Guestlands, at 10 Blacks Road, Arcadia, and Tanglewood, at 52 Porters Road, Kenthurst, will be open 10am to 4.30pm on November 2 and 3 as part of Open Gardens Australia’s Open Garden Scheme. ISABELL PETRINIC interviewed the owners and discovered stories as beautiful as the gardens themselves.
A luton garden chair sits empty, looking into a traditional parterre — a gentle reminder of Peter Guest’s nan, Ngatiawa Thompson, who used to watch from this chair as his garden wonderland, GUESTLANDS, unfolded.
‘‘Pete was such a dreamer and a schemer and she couldn’t believe he brought it to fruition,’’ his wife Jenny (pictured) said of the Tuscan garden they created, with hidden rooms, a column rose walk, deep garden beds spilling over with perennials and shrubs, and intriguing paths leading to bridges over a cascading creek.
Coincidentally Ngatiawa means ‘‘running water’’ and the couple have attached a brass plaque with her name to her favourite chair.
Looking at the garden now, with its oversized chess pieces, wishing well and rustic timber shack, it is hard to imagine how Guestlands looked 15 years ago when the Guests purchased the bare, former wholesale nursery.
Peter remembers Jenny looking at a photograph of the property in the local newspaper, saying: “I don’t care if it has a house or not; we can live in a shack, but look at that dam and those wonderful trees!”
Today there is a porch suspended over that dam and the couple is now working on a vegetable patch.
TANGLEWOOD's owner Val Player said when she and her husband Max bought the property in Kenthurst nine years ago, both the house and the garden were ‘‘derelict’’.
‘‘When I first saw it, it almost made me cry; it was terrible,’’ Mrs Player said of the acreage property — another of the gardens open for viewing on November 2 and 3 as part of Open Garden Australia’s Open Garden Scheme.
‘‘There was some infrastructure left, so we worked with that,’’ she said.
‘‘We re-planted and we weeded and then we re-planted.
‘‘We were also in drought when we moved in, so it was hard.’’
Their labour of love has produced a garden of colour and romance, with an abundance of roses, cottage shrubs, and mature shade trees underplanted with perennials.
The first garden room features standard camellias, roses, foxgloves and gazanias, all in hues of apricot and orange, bordered by a tall viburnum hedge on one side and Japanese box on the other.
Along the western border are beds tumbling with hellebores, irises, nicotana, cannas, gardenias, salvias and many other perennials.
A pretty rose arbour leads to a small pond containing goldfish and water lilies, and bordered with blue fescue, erigeron and euphorbia.
‘‘It’s a very private garden so you just feel you’re in a nice park [and] every week it changes,’’ Mrs Player said.
Other features include a beautiful low stone wall topped with rose Buff Beauty, clipped standard figs and a wisteria arbour.
There is also a bountiful vegetable patch, containing broccoli, lettuce, snow peas, beetroot, rhubarb, as well as fruit trees — and more to come.
‘‘We’ve just put in a fence out the back to keep the wallabies out — they were coming in from the bush to eat the roses,’’ Mrs Player laughed.
She said local horticulturist, Sue Montgomery, put her garden forward to be part of this year’s Open Garden Scheme.
‘‘She designed the 10-metre reflection pond for us about seven years ago,’’ Ms Player said.
It is the first time Tanglewood has been included in the national non-profit open garden scheme, although it has been opened before as part of the Galston Garden Club open garden weekend.
November’s opening raises money for her charity of choice, non-profit group Rainbow Club Australia — a provider of swimming lessons for kids with disabilities in Cherrybrook, among other places.
Morning tea and a light lunch will be available.
■ Non-profit group Open Gardens Australia has 10,000 gardens on its books nationally which are opened for one or two weekends every season.
Admission to the open gardens mentioned above is: $8 (Tanglewood), $7 (Guestlands), free for under-18s.
■ For more open gardens: opengarden.org.au.