Gifted to the Diggers Garden and Environment Trust in 2011, St Erth is a certified organic garden which showcases rare exotics, significant trees and edible gardens. There is also a nursery and shop selling plants, garden supplies and books as well as a cafe serving lunches and snacks from Thursday to Monday.
The garden has twelve different sections to explore including the rose and daffodil garden which dates from the 1950s, the kitchen garden which features heirloom vegetables used in the cafe and an espaliered orchard where 44 trees watered by recycled water can be found. The espaliered technique of growing fruit trees shows how even small gardens or courtyards can be planted with food crops.
For home gardeners looking for inspiration, there is much to be found here. The food forest is a permaculture style garden with hazelnut and almond trees planted in harmony with flowers, herbs and berries.
The dry climate orchard contains fruit trees suitable for dryer areas of Australia and the bush garden showcases local plants such as the blackwood wattle.
The cottage, which now houses the nursery shop, dates from the 1860s when Cornish stonemason Matthew Rogers built it and named it St Erth after his birthplace. The cottage and garden are in a lovely but quiet part of the world and it is easy to imagine it was always this way. Yet there was once a post office here and a boot factory that provided employment for a town of 13,000 people.
The Garden of St Erth was developed by Tommy Garnett, who purchased the property in 1967. He established many of the rare exotics at St Erth and was to become one of the most respected garden writers this country has seen.
In 1996 the Diggers Club took over the running of the gardens and restored the stone cottage. Entrance to the gardens is $10 for non members of the Diggers Club with children under 16 admitted free of charge. The garden is open 7 days a week, with the cafe open Thursday – Monday.
Diggers Club operate Heronswood in Dromana and Cloudhill at Olinda as well as the Garden of St Erth. Members of the Diggers Club get free entry as well as discounts on products from the shop. More details are available at diggers.com.au