Can you believe this stunning property, called Tulip Top, is designed, planted and cared for by two people… Pat and Bill Rhoden.
Twenty years ago, when they lived in Canberra, Pat and Bill had won awards for their suburban garden…so when they retired they decided to find a bigger property and to really indulge their passion for gardening.
They now have a wonderful spring garden on 10 acres (four hectares) just north of Canberra at Sutton.
It seems incredible to me that Pat and Bill manage this property on their own, their son helps with some gardening, and their daughter organises the administration when Tulip Top opens in spring.
They are now 70 years old, and still propagating, pruning, weeding, mowing, sowing, and doing all the other maintenance jobs
……so I can just stop complaining about my knees after a day of gardening!
Twenty years ago they began by planting various trees. To form a canopy for the garden they have English and Chinese elms, conifers (excellent wind breakers) and eucalyptus trees are all in the mix..
Weeping willows give an early spring lace green effect..
The one thousand flowering trees took my breath away…
They have crab-apple, peach, cherry, apricot, quince and plum trees.
A particularly eye-catching tree is the Double Flowering Peach tree..
The Australian Garden History Society has showcased the progress in the garden with photos and articles near the entrance to the gardens..
…here is a short summary of Pat and Bill’s year of gardening..
The garden is open to the public for four weeks in spring (the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October)
In November they lift the bulbs, which are labelled and stored in crates. (500 000 bulbs at last count).
Then two weeks worth of pruning trees..
After a Christmas and holiday break, Pat and Bill begin again in February. They re-shape the beds, add fertilizer, and make sure the PH in the soil is right.
They check bulb catalogues, and trial about 10 to 12 new cultivars each year.
In mid March seedling trays of annuals arrive, including pansies, primulas, and English Daisies, amongst others.
In early autumn the tulips go into cold storage.
Tulip planting begins in May for a six week period….right into our winter, June. As they can’t plant until the soil thaws in the winter mornings, Bill says sometimes they have to work in the dark to make deadlines.
Tulips are planted en masse, with early, mid and late varieties.
Everything is covered in sugar cane mulch…this offers protection against the birds and frost, and saves on watering and keeps the weeds down..
Pat says that World Favourite has always been a good performer for them. In the evening light, the red and yellow tulip looks as there is a light burning inside it.
Paul took a photo of this beauty, but unfortunately we don’t know its name…
This lovely apricot coloured tulip is called Actrice
Do you have a favourite tulip?
I just love all red tulips, and they bloom in the most difficult parts of our garden..
and the white tulips….
One very good reason to plant white tulips in our garden is that cockatoos don’t pick white flowers quite as readily as others (apparently)
…..and if you are looking for some bling, how about this one, aptly named Fabio!
One of the many kind volunteers said that Bill and Pat don’t get much sleep the week or two before opening but they are quoted as saying “just seeing the joy visitors get out of coming to Tulip Tops is the biggest reward for us”
Many thanks to Bill and Pat for a wonderful day..
The gardens are open in the last two weeks of September, and the first two weeks of October. (the beginning of spring in Canberra)
18 Replies to “Canberra in spring: Tulip Top”
Unbelievable that two people in their seventies can manage such an enormous stunning garden. Thanks for your tour and your photographs which show the gardens so well.
Isn’t it incredible…. It shows what you can do when you have a passion!
Loud applause to Bill and Pat. This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I chuckled through the entire post thinking about how I planted 45 daffodil bulbs over the weekend and thought I was doing good. These are two outstanding GARDENERS, and one word comes to mind – WOW.
That is exactly what I thought Judy… Wow! Imagine digging up all the bulbs every year!
That is a daunting amount of gardening for two people. Whatever their age!
Yes absolutely true.. This is a huge undertaking for two people.. Even if they were in their twenties!
Holy cats! In the unlikely event that I come to Australia, I will be sure to come in the spring and visit those gardens. Wowsah, they are incredible! It also blows my mind to think of how much two people who are in their seventies accomplish. Very humbling. Thanks so much for writing this post.
Yes, I agree Laurie, it is humbling to see these gardeners.
Kudos to Bill and Pat. What an amazing achievement! The tulips are truly wonderful and the gardens so magnificent. The ‘World Favourite’ is gorgeous. I think the pointy mauvy pink and white tulip is called ‘Claudia’. I’d love to see it all in real life, but your photos are great, Gerrie. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Sylvia, and I’ll check on the Claudia tulip and fix that. Lovely garden to visit, it really made my day!
That is an amazing achievement to create such a beautiful spring display, it was lovely to see it and wonder how they achieve it. Sarah
Yes, so true Sarah, I can’t imagine doing anything like that, every year!
Goodness, this couple blew me away! What a stunning garden, and to think those tulips probably need planting every year….WOW! Lovely to see your spring!xxx
Thanks Dina .. yes imagine planting those bulbs every year! Inspiring gardeners for sure!
Such bright, beautiful colors! And here I am just about to place my bulb order for fall planting.
A bulb catalogue is the best part of autumn I think..
What a beautiful garden! The blossom-covered trees are breathtakingly wonderful and the amount of work involved each year makes my mind boggle!
I agree Clare, imagine lifting those bulbs every year!