Time Out

We took a break from all the bottling last Sunday and headed out to the Open Garden Scheme’s Annual Plant Fair, which this year was held at Bellevale near Yass.
The property certainly lives up to its name as it is situated on a hill with great views out to that big mountain next to the Hume Highway


yes that one, (can anyone tell me the name of the mountain?), and out to lots of other very beautiful rural scenes.


The current owners, the Abbey family, bought the property in 2007, from the descendants of the original family that bought the property in 1834. The new owners have been working  to renovate the existing gardens, which will be quite a challenge as there are 2 acres of them! The work so far has included re-placing, as necessary, some of the old roses in the formal rose garden.


This roses are protected by a photinia hedge which, while not a personal favourite of mine, certainly forms an attractive windbreak for this part of the garden. The hedge is also enhanced by features such as this lovely wrought-iron gate the pattern of which was rather marred by the whoever stuck the sign on it.


Next to the rose beds is a stone flagged terrace with a central sundial. The large sculpture on the top of the sundial was made by one of the sculptors whose work was being sold on the weekend.


There is still a lot of work for the owners to carry out, particularly along the embankment along the eastern side of the house. Those who were able to negotiate the rather irregular stone stairs were able to look at some of the more unusual plantings such as the Osage Orange tree which was dropping its oddly-shaped fruit around its base. For those unable or unwilling to risk the stairs an attractive bowl of the fruit was placed on a table on the eastern verandah of the house.


I’m presuming that this tree, which is estimated to be over 100 years old, was originally planted for its decorative value. While traditionally the wood was prized by the native Americans as a superior timber for making bows, (as in bows and arrows), today’s woodworker would be more likely to know it for the striking orange colour of the timber which is highly valued by the wood-turning fraternity.

In addition to the plants, garden ornament and tool sales, this year’s fair also included a sale of botanical art which was displayed in the ballroom of the house. And yes I did love that 17 ft ceiling (about 5 metres high) – perhaps if we ever decide to extend Chez Fork we can fit one in …

Moving from the sublime to the ‘mundane’, one of my favourite spots in the garden was the clothesline, which was surrounded by plantings of daisys, agapanthus, lavenders and other familiar favourites.


It certainly makes for a pleasant location to hang out the washing.

While the Abbey’s have only been at Bellevale for some four years, and it’s too early to tell see how the new native plantings will develop, they have clearly committed themselves to restoring and enhancing this garden. I hope I can return in future years to see how they have progressed.

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