Recently, I made a trip to one of my favourite nurseries and open gardens, called Heronswood and located in Dromana. It is also known as The Diggers Club. Beautifully landscaped gardens surround the Heronswood House, which was designed by Edward Latrobe Bateman in 1866. The gardens contain an extensive collection of heritage flowering plants and perennial borders. Most of the plants that are displayed in the gardens can be purchased at the nursery. The gardens have been designed in sections with pathways that lead the visitor clock-wise. Borders stop the eye from being able to see what may lay around the corner, making it exciting as to what you may stumble upon!
The white garden contains a vast range of beautiful floral plants such as Hellebores, Gardenia, Luculia grandifolia, and the elegant Elaeagnus angustifolia, also known as the Russian olive tree (just to name a few). Upon exploring the gardens you will notice there are 5 vegetable gardens that all contain heritage fruit and vegetables, which the team at Heronswood have retained and recovered. At the time I was visiting, the veggie garden was looking brilliant! The winter crops were flourishing; look at the size of the cabbages! Unfortunately my cabbages in my veggie patch got attacked by slugs and snails, so I hope next year I will have better luck.
Upon entering Heronswood there is a dry landscape garden that is planted out with cactus, succulents and other dry loving plants. Exploring the gardens, I stumbled across two plants that I fell in love with. The first being the red flowers which belong to a plant called the Honey bush, Melianthus major. The second plant I fell in love with was the Chocolate Vine/climber, Akebia quinata. As the name suggests, the flowers give off a scent that does slightly resemble chocolate. I will be writing culture notes on both plants in the coming days. There is a garden entry fee that costs $10.00 for adults and is free for children under the age of 16. But If you are part of the Diggers club you will be gifted free entry into the gardens.
As much as I love the gardens there is something that gets me excited every time I visit the Diggers club. What I absolutely love about this place is this particular room. As a Horticulturist this is my ‘candy shop’ or ‘jar of cookies,’ so to speak. This is where I get so absorbed, inspired and lost in thought that I can easily be standing here looking at all the different seeds for hours. This is what I love about gardening, you can take a tiny seed, nurture it and watch as is grows from something that was originally smaller than a pea and into a living, vibrant plant that can stand 1 -10 meters tall. Growing homegrown fruit and vegetables is also highly rewarding!
If you have never been to Heronswood it is a must! If you are passionate about gardening and growing plants, this is a great place to go to see some unusual heritage plants. There is also a cafe where, if after exploring the garden you find yourself needing a bit of energy, you can stop and have a cup of tea, and then hit the nursery to discover some plants.
By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs