Of all the large gardens in Australia, Kennerton Green at Mittagong in the New South Wales Southern Highlands is one of the very best. This magnificent garden has had a succession of owners, in fact Burke’s Backyard first visited in 1988 when it was briefly owned by Susan Renouf. The current owner is Marylyn Abbott, who has changed and refined the garden over the past 11 years, almost doubling the size of the planted areas.
The potager is laid out as a St. George’s cross intersected by a St. Andrew’s cross. The design has been created with clipped box hedges then filled in with vegetables, herbs and some flowering plants. It is enclosed on three sides by walls espaliered with Red Delicious and Jonathan apples, and bordered on the fourth side by a low building with Gothic design windows. The potager entrance is modelled on the lychgate of St. Simon and St. Jude’s church in Bowral.
Putting white plants together in a garden is often easier than trying to make different colours work together. In this area plantings of May bush (Spiraea cantoniensis ‘Lanceata’) and alyssum (Lobularia maritima) harmonise beautifully with whitish gravel and white fantail pigeons living in a white dovecote. May bush flowers in September to October in Australia, so Aussies should really call it September bush! It has a lovely weeping habit, and grows in all but the hottest parts of the country.
Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
This area features a lovely wooden structure covered with climbing roses, and 5000 pink iris planted at the edge of the lake.
Silver Birch (Betula pendula)
One of the newer parts of the garden, the woodland is designed to be very natural, quiet and calm. A grove of silver birch trees (Betula pendula) encloses a pond featuring blue and white Louisiana iris and a Chinoiserie birdcage. The simple blue and white colour scheme works particularly well, and demonstrates the importance of restraint in garden design. The plantings of silver birches were staggered over several years, giving an authentic forest effect with trees at different stages of maturity. Silver birch grows best in the colder areas of Australia.
Bay tree (Laurus nobilis)
Based on a French parterre, the bay garden consists of eight equal oblong beds surrounded by low box hedges. The beds are outlined by a grid of 80 standard bay trees (Laurus nobilis) with their feet in clipped box rings. There is a 3 metre (10′) tall bay tree as the centrepiece.
Regular viewers of Burke’s Backyard might notice something familiar about the water feature in this part of Kennerton Green. It is based on an irrigation canal which brought water to the vegetable gardens adjacent to the Alhambra in Spain, one of the best gardens in the world.
Kennerton Green is open daily, September 1 – November 30 10.00am to 4.00pm
This garden is currently for sale: contact Drew Lindsay Real Estate on (02) 4861 2799.
Gardening With Light and Colour by Marylyn Abbott. Published by Viking (distributed by Penguin). Cost – $50.