Redlands is a 3 acre (1.2 hectare) woodland-style garden, built on a terraced, north-east facing slope at Mt Gibraltar in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. The garden has been created in a microclimate – because of its aspect it is protected from harsh winter winds, frost and cold temperatures.
The garden was designed for owner Cedric Rouse by one of Australia’s master gardeners, Paul Sorensen. He began planting trees in about 1936, years before the Tudor style house designed by Sydney architect John Brogan was completed. Redlands is an old garden by Australian standards, and an important example of Sorensen’s early work. Although it has had several owners over the years and undergone extensive renovation, the garden has retained its initial form and character. It’s a good example of a garden with “good bones”, in other words the structure is right, and so it will always be basically sound. A classic Sorensen trademark evident throughout Redlands is the stonework – beautiful paving, steps and dry-stone walls.
Sorensen’s original plantings included some exotic and rare trees, which are now well established and a feature of the garden today. The driveway is lined with a formally spaced avenue of purple-backed sycamores (Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Purpureum’), and to increase the visual depth, blue cedars (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’) have been planted behind a group of European larch (Larix decidua) which have bright green foliage. In another part of the garden are specimens of horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), Copper beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropunicea’), and purple beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’), while a silver elm (Ulmus procera ‘Variegata’) at the rear of the property is surrounded by dark green conifers (Abies alba, Picea abies and Picea smithiana) and English elms (Ulmus procera). Other notable trees include redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum), field maples (Acer campestre) and tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera).
Michelle Scamps and Dale Goodman bought Redlands in 1996. They then set about the task of having to practically recreate a garden which had been neglected for years. It was dark, overgrown and smothered in blackberries and honeysuckle. They had some very difficult decisions to make, because as well as pulling out weeds and some old plants which were no longer attractive, they also had to remove some of the beautiful old trees which were crowding each other out. Today, thanks to Michelle and Dale the garden looks magnificent, and is well worth a visit.
Redlands, Cnr Oxley Drive and Duke Street, Mittagong, NSW, 2575, will be open to the public from September 18 to October 17, 1999, from 10am-4pm. Admission $5. Phone/fax: (02) 4871 3232.