As some readers may already know, I love the gardening book, Australian Dreamscapes, and when ever possible we try to visit a Dreamscape garden on our travels.
I hope you have time to look, and enjoy, this stunning and unique garden called Eagle’s Bluff near Tenterfield in New South Wales, which is featured in Australian Dreamscapes.
Carolyn Robinson, a garden designer and plantswoman, had travelled to many parts of the world with her husband Peter, before they settled in the picturesque town of Tenterfield in New South Wales. Carolyn became well known for her garden design and for creating a lovely, more traditional garden called Glenrock near Tenterfield.
However, for the next chapter of their lives, Carolyn and her husband Peter fell in love with a a more rural property, Eagle’s Bluff, overlooking the Bluff Wilderness area near Tenterfield.
In a remarkably short space of time, they built a house, surrounded on three sides by a river with a backdrop of hills in this rugged landscape. Equally remarkable, Carolyn has planted an expansive garden, full of native and exotic plants, trees and gently swaying grasses.
Carolyn says in Australian Dreamscapes, ”At Eagle’s Bluff the landscape was far more imposing, I could open my mind to the landscape and flow with it. It is a wonderful feeling of being free and not hindered by traditional gardening styles.”
The house has magnificent views from the large windows, looking out onto their pond which reflects the sky, the clouds and the mountains.
The view encourages the eye to look further into the garden and across to the river and the mountains.
Amongst her many talents, Carolyn has been collecting stones and rocks for twenty or so years, and uses them to make stone walls to provide structure in the garden. When she and her husband Peter bought the property, she was delighted to find that there was a jumble of rocks, many of which were flat sided, and able to be used in her new garden.
Carolyn says the stone walls act as a ha-ha foreshortening the distance to the river. Sweeping gardens by the pond are filled with low-growing shrubs and perennials…..absolutely breath-taking on this glorious autumn day.
The paths and the soft green lawns lead us on through a wonderful series of gardens. Carolyn is renowned for her appealing plant palettes, using a variety of shapes, colours and textures.
The gardens spread out like an amphitheatre for the surrounding hills. There are Salvias, Westringa, Lavenders, Grevilleas and many more well chosen plants for the climate.
Another of Carolyn’s quotes from the book ”Foliage colour is more important than the flower colour, and the use of purple foliage is a signature of my design because it works well with glaucous shades in the native vegetation and acts as a foil for the harsh Australian light.”
Carolyn and has planted to encourage the bees, butterflies and birds, and all were in abundance the day we were there.
Tenterfield has cold frosty winters, (occasionally light snow), and moderate hot wet summers. However, as with many parts of Australia, there can be floods and droughts and fires….all of which have occurred in the last few years.
The Robinsons’ main water supply comes from the river, but mindful of the vagaries of the Australian climate, they also have a small dam and two large tanks in case of drought. There is a sprinkler system through the garden, a feat in itself!
Carolyn also plants with drought hardiness in mind and says it is crucial to put plants with similar water needs together.
Deciduous trees, claret ash, golden ash, pistachio, pear and crabapples and prunus are all grouped together, and give shade, but on 40 degree summer days they can be given a drink if needed.
Most of the garden beds are covered with pebbles or crushed rock, and even small amounts of rain can soak through the gravel and stones.
Carolyn loves a mix of plants, massing ground covers, shrubs and formal hedges contrast against textured foliage, spreading natives and flowing ornamental grasses..
To soften the look of the hill on the south side, which was sadly denuded of trees some years ago, Carolyn has added eucalypts and chosen companion plants that would be able to handle competition as they matured.
One distinct lesson Carolyn has learnt from her previous garden, is to plant everything together, when the Eucalyptus are tiny. That way, all the plants around have a chance to develop their root zones and get their defences going before the Eucalyptus dominate. She says ”I always see it as roots waging war under the ground!”
Carolyn expressed her wish for this garden: ‘‘I wanted to create a garden in harmony with the wider landscape, and , in a small way, enhance the spirit of the place”
Carolyn and her husband Peter kindly offered us coffee and cake when we had finished taking photos. As we sat chatting, looking out across the pond, the gardens and the blue hills beyond, I felt that Carolyn had indeed enhanced the spirit of this captivating landscape.
Eagle’s Bluff is a private garden and not available for general viewing, however, the first garden Carolyn created near Tenterfield, called Glenrock is often open during the year.
There are two Dreamscape books, one called Australian Dreamscapes, and another simply called Dreamscapes, featuring gardens all over the world.
Hillandale: a garden for the Impressionists about Sarah Ryan’s garden at Yetholme in New South Wales, Australia. (Dreamscapes Australia)
Fisherman’s Bay Gardens As much as we would like to make gardener Jill Simpson an honorary Australian, her garden is set in beautiful Akaroa in New Zealand, and therefore Jill is featured in the first book called Dreamscapes.
All three gardens are featured on Instagram.
Thank you for reading my blog post today, and may you enjoy your garden or nearby greenery, near or far, summer or winter.
Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved