Spring has arrived in Australia, and for the first time in almost three long Covid years, we are able to visit open gardens all over the southern states.
Last weekend, the country town of Bathurst, New South Wales, held its Spring Festival.
We don’t live far from Bathurst and Paul and I met at College in Bathurst many years ago, so we have great affection and memories of this town.
There were many open gardens to visit, both in Bathurst, and around the district. We spent so long looking at some of the country properties and gardens that we will have to come back next year for the rest!
The owners of the gardens often provide ”a story” about their garden, and this is the beginning of the story of Mill Cottage, in O’Connell near Bathurst.
“We bought Mill Cottage, also known as the Garden House, attracted by the historic house, the old garden, and orchard and the lovely setting beside the Fish River. “
“The original 100 acre farm was taken up by Daniel Roberts in about 1829. Daniel Roberts was born in Wales in 1800 and arrived in the colony in 1826. The 1828 census lists Daniel as being a free settler, a carpenter, aged 28.“
“Daniel met Catherine Spinks about 1828. She had arrived in the colony in 1820 when she was only 13 years old, with her convict mother, Anne. Daniel and Catherine were married in Parramatta in 1828. They left on horseback after their wedding and arrived in O’Connell, where they settled.”
A very long way to travel by horseback…they were tough in those days!
‘The present owners know there was the stone and brick house here by 1837, called the Garden House. This assumes there was a notable garden from the beginning, maybe tended by the two convicts allocated to the Roberts family.‘
‘Daniel built a water mill, located about 200 metres upstream from the house in 1833. He saw the need for a place to mill the wheat that the early settlers were busy growing. Local farmers brought their wheat, it was ground into flour, and a sack cost them one penny!‘
‘Daniel became a prosperous local businessman and over time the property was sold, and the land around was subdivided.‘
The present owners have extended and expanded the garden over the previous ten years .
The garden has mainly cool climate plants, bulbs, roses, salvias, hellebores and many other perennials, with a wonderful shady Box elder (maple) tree in the centre of the garden near the house.
We were lucky to have a lovely sunny day to visit Bathurst and surrounds, however, like much of the Eastern states of Australia, Bathurst has experienced heavy rains this year, and the Fish river, (seen in the photo below) was rising.
All parts of the garden have attractive borders of plants, and this gave us a chance to wander through the garden and take time to look at all the flowering spring shrubs.
I didn’t get a chance to talk to the owners of the property, but I did wonder if kangaroos hopped over the fence/gate to eat the abundance of fruit, vegetables and flowers.
We had a wonderful time wandering through this garden and it was a delight to be out and about amongst fellow gardeners. Many thanks to the owners of the property, as it must take an enormous effort to get ready for an Open Garden weekend.
For those who are interested in learning more about the house, Lee Steele’s Volume Two of “Heritage Homes of Bathurst and District” describes this house in more detail.
I have photos for at least one or two more gardens, so I hope you can look out for them.
Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved