Tipperary Church is set on a 2.5 hectare property 11 kilometres from York, Western Australia. It was originally a place of worship that has since been converted to a private home, gallery and magnificent garden.
The area consists of open farming country, with massive gnarled wandoo and York gums.
When Don Burke visited this garden in 1993 he considered it to be one of Australia’s best gardens, its design, maintenance and planting well suited to the dry Mediterranean style climate of this part of Western Australia.
In 1835, the Burges family established a large property near York. The church was built in 1832 to serve the religious needs of those working on the property. The church, located by the roadside, consisted of a single spacious room with pointed windows and doors and a pointed high pitched roof in a loosely gothic style.
An earthquake damaged the church in 1868 and it subsequently passed into private hands, being bought by artists, Tedye and Bryant McDiven in 1978.
The church was extended and made a comfortable and elegant house. A lodge for visitors was built nearby and an art gallery, the Salek Minc gallery, displayed the varied collection of the late Dr Salek Minc.
Several years ago the McDivens sold the property taking with them to their new house the Minc art collection.
The garden at its peak
During the McDivens time at Tipperary Church Tedye McDiven was the principal gardener. Her artist husband Bryant contributed to the design. The McDivens say the garden was built on “the same principles as a painting”, designed to lead the eye to the rolling hills surrounding the property.
Tedye McDiven says one of the beauties of the view from the garden she created is that it is always changing according to season from seed to harvest.
The garden falls into two geometric forms and two distinct colour groups with no colour outside the walls that will interfere with the natural setting. It is a very formal garden, designed to complement the austerity of the church and is all set under large gum trees.
Close to the buildings, the garden is walled into rectangular garden rooms which provide sheltered links between the three buildings. These gardens are full of flowers including in spring jonquils, forget-me nots, irises, daisies and daphne.
The average rainfall in York is 10″ or 250mm a year with drying winds that parch the garden and extremely low humidity. These are difficult conditions in which to create a garden yet the plants here at Tipperary thrive.
As the property has changed hands the house and garden are no longer open to the public. Tedye McDiven is beginning a new garden around their new house in York and may in the future have it open from time to time.