Sunday, 22 February 2009


“It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves.” - Robert Louis Stevenson

We had a great Sunday today, going to the house of some friends of ours up in the Dandenongs. The weather was warm, but not excessively hot and the cooler hills with their deeply shaded gullies were just the thing. On the way there we passed by some burned out areas near Dandenong foothills, a very jarring reminder of the bushfires, some of which are still burning. Tomorrow will be another hot day and fire restrictions have been in force throughout the state. Melbourne’s Mount Dandenong, about 50 km from the city centre is wonderful place, full of trees, wild flora and fauna and many communities, small village-like settlements amongst the towering eucalypts, many beautiful houses and villas, as well as the magnificent Mount Dandenong National Park.

Our friends live in Tremont right in the middle of a beautiful forest setting and they have been worried sick with the bushfires. They are dreading when they will be told to evacuate and they have their suitcases packed, ready to leave. It’s heart-breaking as they have a beautiful garden, a lovely house and wonderful paintings, antiques and books. They are seriously considering selling the house and moving as the ever-present threat of bushfire has suddenly become a chilling reality with our recent deadly ones.

We visited a beautiful garden and nursery close to our friends’ house and even with the drought and high temperatures, Cloudehill was magnificent. It is a formal garden laid out in “rooms” (about 20 of them), all on different levels and linked by paths, steps and avenues lined by herbaceous borders and clipped hedges. Water features, art pieces and well-laid out plantings make this an experience not to be missed when visiting the Dandenongs.

Cloudehill garden dates about 100 years ago and is inspired by the famous arts and crafts gardens of England such as, Sissinghurst, Hidcote and Tintinhull. These, in turn, were derived from the renaissance gardens of Italy such as Villa D’ Este and Villa Lante. Art works are dotted within the gardens giving a contemporary twist to the classic design.

Walking through the forest and the gardens today, seeing the awe-inspiring beauty of the mountain made us all the more aware of the fragility of these places. How a single match can transform this little slice of heaven into hell. How many people live in fear of their lives. How all the beauty they have created can be so easily destroyed…
Enjoy your week!

1 comment:

  1. Spouse and I found Cloudehill almost by accident. We were staying in the area over a long weekend, and friends suggested we might like to visit the gardens. Gorgeous!

    I have created a link to your post, many thanks