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On the weekend of October 26th and 27th is the Alexandra and District Open Gardens with a massive display of 12 private gardens opening to the public. This event was named the Murrurundi Community Event of the Year last year after raising $120,000 for community groups such as the local school and hospital. So not only do you get to visit magnificent gardens but you're also helping the community.
The gardens vary in their size and plantings considerably, and range from farm gardens on a grand scale to intimate township gardens. The gardens that you can visit are:
# Flora Vale, named by the original owners that built the homestead in 1882 and began the first plantings on the property that included two large palm trees, large elms, lemon-scented eucalyptus, Japonica, Wisteria and a strawberry tree, all of which still remain on the property along with the more recent extended garden beds and water fountain that have been put in by the current owners.
#Sharwood's garden is small after being subdivided in the 1930's but with a beautiful old local handmade brick home from the 1890's and originally home to the first baker in Alexandra it's still well worth a look. Botanical artist Margaret Zaal will be painting in the garden from 10:30 onwards and some of her paintings will be on display and for sale.
#Pat Jane's Garden is open to the public for the very first time after much encouragement from friends and locals alike. Pat's garden began as a veggie patch in the back yard of her small town garden but has grown into a spring delight with roses, bulbs, crepe myrtle trees sheltering azaleas below, a towering liquid amber amongst others.
Pam and Brian's Garden
#Pam & Brian's Garden has only been established for 6 years after they started with a vacant block and have built it up to include vast lawn areas that flow down towards the pond with garden beds and trees adding interest. A small shade house is filled with Orchids and ferns.
#Millbrook has beautiful views over the Goulburn Valley and is the home of 92 year old Ron. The garden has river lagoons with waterlillies which give it a luxurious feel and is surrounded by lovely deciduous trees. Ron will also be showing off his other two passions that include a 1926 T Model car and 15 old horse buggies.
#The Poplars is a mature garden which is highlighted by the permanent creek, tree ferns, large trees and exotic shrubs. Picnics are welcomed within the garden as is a visit to their chickens, pigs and miniature ponies.
Margaret and Judy's Garden was once a former paddock that they fell in love with and started a garden, that was 20 years ago and now that garden is their major occupation and expense. With plenty of water they have created an exquisite garden with a dam covered in water lilies, many beautiful flower beds and established trees, a veggie garden, fruit trees and much more.
Margaret and Judy's Garden
#Harry and Pat's 2 acre property has an idyllic park like setting with a large pond that has pink and white water lilies during spring and summer. It looks like a great place to reflect and relax.
#Hardham's Garden main feature would have to be the 'Monet' influenced bridge that crosses the Little Steavenson River that runs through the property. This garden has many mature trees, deciduous trees, azaleas, camellias and plenty of bulbs to bring a burst of spring colour to the garden. There are plenty of places to sit and relax in the garden, either on the expansive lawns, riverside or under the gazebo. If you're sitting riverside make sure you keep a look out for trout, fresh water crayfish and the resident platypus. The Hardham's garden is located in Buxton.
Jill & Geoff's garden
#Jill & Geoff's Garden was formerly an undeveloped section of farmland with Peppermint and Blackwood trees along with dreaded Blackberry bushes. Fast forward 15 years and you will find Jill and Geoff's garden recovering after losing many trees and shrubs from the heat of the Black Saturday fires in 2009. The pictures of this garden are stunning as are the views across the dam and over the hills.
#Saldin Lodge Garden has been included into this year's schedule as an example of recovery and regeneration after being burnt out by fires and the top soil washed away.
This property is still in the early stages with fences replaced, debris cleared, paths layed and seedlings spread. The property has a lovely lake which is not just pretty with the reflections of the trees but it's also a permanent water supply.
You will be able to purchase sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, cakes and gifts in Kim's Barn Cafe and indoors at Saldin Lodge will be Australian prints and organic vegetables for sale along with sculptures and a gallery to admire.
#Sally's Garden was saved from the brushfires in 2009 by herself and her neighbour using her trusty fire pump and now she is happy to share her garden and invite you to have a look around. Sally has spent many hard working hours transforming this former paddock that had nothing more than a few young trees and lots of blackberries and rubbish.
Sally calls it her four seasons garden because it has colour all year round.
So there are the 12 great gardens to visit in Alexandra and district.
Jill and Geoff's garden
Getting there: From Melbourne CBD to Alexandra is approximately 132 km and will take just under two hours to get there. For directions click here.
Given that Alexandra is a two hour drive from Melbourne you may wish to stay overnight, in that case there is plenty of accommodation in the area that can be found in Alexandra and the nearby town of Marysville.
Garden entry costs $3 per garden or $25 for entry to all 12.