Heronswood, the Digger’s Club, and Gardening Australia…..all on a summer’s day

Since the birth of our granddaughter last year, we have frequently travelled to Melbourne to visit our daughter and family.

In late November, we took a slightly different route to Melbourne, and spent a few days in the beautiful Mornington Peninsula.

On a sunny, almost perfect day, we visited a wonderful property called Heronswood at Dromana.

This historic property was established in 1864, and the Gothic Revival house was built in 1874.

Dromana  is a very scenic part of the world, but the wind and weather can be wild and unpredictable. A tough climate to establish such a beautiful garden.

William Moat was originally employed to develop spacious lawns and  gardens, and large trees were planted to serve as wind breaks. Some of these trees survive to protect the garden today.


Clive and Penny Blazey bought Heronswood in 1983, raising a family there while using the garden as a testing ground for new plant species and dedicated to preserving heirloom varieties for the business they established called the Diggers Club.

Like many gardeners all over Australia, Paul and I have benefited from being members of the Diggers Club, getting new seeds, plants and bulbs by mail order, and reading their excellent quarterly magazine.

The garden is layered on a fairly steep slope, and is directly above the beach where the explorer, Captain Matthew Flinders, landed on 27th April 1802.

The garden path winds gently between each part of the garden, showcasing the planting over the years.

It has evolved into a summer garden of perennials and subtropical fruits, shaded by lush mature trees..


It is inspiring to know that these colourful perennials can withstand heat of 40 degrees (Celsius)104 (Fahrenheit)

We had, quite by accident, chosen a day when the crew from the ABC series Gardening Australia were filming in the gardens.  They all looked relaxed, friendly, and professional, and we chatted to Jane and complimented her on the program.


The Subtropical Fruit Border

This section of the garden highlights the versatility of subtropical fruits in all climates…(who knew bananas could grow this far south?)

The Diggers  best selections are combined with hot coloured (red, yellow and orange) dahlias, to contrast with the lush green foliage.


Hidden away amongst the grasses and foliage we could hear frogs before we came to a small bridge and pond ….a great breeding ground for them in this lush garden.


This plant, with multiple blue flowers was a ”one stop shop” for many bees.

Clive and Penny Blazey have been amazing custodians of this property for years. Clive is an advisor for the Seed Saver Exchange in Iowa, USA, which was established around the same time as the Digger’s Club in Australia.

The  Digger’s Club has over 75 000 members, and the Blazey family give away a percentage of their profits each year. Penny is involved in many charities, both in Australia and abroad.

In 2011 the Blazey’s gifted ownership of The Digger’s Club and the gardens of Heronswood and St Erth (near Daylesford) to the Diggers Garden and Environmental Trust.

Clive and Penny succeeded in developing a wonderful collection of unusual perennial plants with open pollinated seeds to provide what they called

”…the gardener’s inheritance seeds you save, sow and share forever…”

After enjoying this lovely garden, the last words come from Clive Blazey ….

“”I’m obsessed with living plants. Gardening connects you to biology, archaeology and the environment. It’s a fascinating pursuit.”

I’m inspired!


Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved



26 Replies to “Heronswood, the Digger’s Club, and Gardening Australia…..all on a summer’s day”

  1. That is lovely. And very English if you don’t look too closely! Is the blue plant with multiple flowers an Echium?
    We have progressed to South Australia and swopped the cockatoos for kangaroos in the garden. Six of them! I do love this country.

    1. Yes the blue flower is Echium candicans (Pride of Madeira…thanks to a comment from Diana)
      Look forward to seeing more of your travels in South Australia.. and I’m glad kangaroos have greeted you in your garden. I hope they have a few Joeys to show you.

  2. You got a double lucky draw card there, Geraldine – 2 of my favourite things in one hit. Looks like a really beautiful day to be there.

    1. You would have loved the garden … Cool and shady.. But what a bonus to have the crew from GA. I learnt a lot more about the Diggers Club too.

    1. I absolutely love the salvias, and Delphiniums, but I think they may not be as hardy despite how lovely they look at Heronswood. Salvias are great in Canberra. Yes when I googled Heronswood it came up with the garden in Washington State (Kingston?) Also looks to be a wonderful garden.

  3. Thank you for sharing your excellent pictures of such an interesting garden. it is 60 years since I used to visit friends who had a house there at Shoreham.

    1. That is interesting, Shoreham is not far from Dromana. The Mornington Peninsula reminds me of some parts of England, perhaps you noticed that too?

  4. Thank you for taking us along with you to see and explore this gorgeous garden property. I love the name ‘Diggers Club’ so looked it up and spent quite a while reading some very good gardening articles. I love their tools. 🙂 10°F here this morning so I really enjoyed the lush grounds, beautiful flowers, and I also envy well defined pathways.

    1. I agree with you about the Diggers Club tools, very tempting to buy. I also love a big wide path with a curve in it, and the Heronswood paths made it easier to see the garden and take photos. OH dear Judy, 10F degrees….if you had my granddaughter with you, you really could sing ”Baby it’s cold out there!”

    1. It is called Pride of Madeira, (Echium candicans)…and is a tall stem with a lot of small blue flowers, struggling a bit for light under one of the big trees.

  5. What a wonderful garden and the house is lovely too. Clive and Penny have done an amazing job. You must have been so impressed with everything you saw there. Great photos, Gerrie. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Those are some gardens! Very different from what we have in Maine. And why shouldn’t they be, given the differences in climate? I so enjoyed seeing the different plants, and I will be looking at this post again so that I can take it all in a second time. Many thanks for sharing this.

  7. Drought tolerant plants are really the practical choice for this kind of climate! The guys at The Diggers Club are great people. That garden is very impressive, so much variety!

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