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Romswood Peony Farm Open Weekends

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by Danielle Norton (subscribe)
I'm a freelance travel, lifestyle and content writer based in Melbourne. If you need the right words, I have them. Feel free to connect with me or have a look at my site for examples of my published work
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Pick your own pretty peonies
The peony is an exquisite flower. Its petals fold around each other tightly until it is ready to bloom and when it does, it really is a sight to behold. In general, the peony has a six week blooming period. Each November the Romswood Peony Farm throws open its gates and welcomes the public for two open weekends in late November when they flowers are at their prettiest. Because the different varieties grown on this farm have a staggered blooming season, there are plenty of flowers in various stages of their life cycle for the crowds to enjoy.

Peony farm romswood
Peony in bloom at Romswood Peony Farm

On the road to Kerrie, we pass horse studs and paddocks of foals. Weeping willows, blossoming wattle and eucalyptus trees line the road. Only 35 minutes from Melbourne airport, the idyllic scenery makes it feel like a long way from city life. When the bitumen ends and we venture on to a gravel road we feel like we're in the country proper.

Parking in a field, we grab our secateurs and our baskets and head for the entry, ready to enjoy a little harvest of the four and a half acres of garden. With rows and rows of plants ready to bloom we know we have lots of colour choices to makes over the next few hours. At the gate, we are given instructions about how to tell if a peony is ready to cut. If it's soft and spongy like a marshmallow, it's about to bloom and should be cut way down the stem at the junction of the second set of leaves.

My friend, Kate, ready to harvest more flowers

We decided to visit them on the last open day of the season because we have heard that Parkers Mini Circus will be there to entertain the kids. The ringmaster puts on a very old-fashioned show with lots of audience participation. He has five budgies who perform a number of clever tricks, and a few naughty ones, causing the kids in the audience to laugh and heckle a little. When Eline and Oscar (both budgies) have their moment in the spotlight, Eline was a good girl, hopping back into her cage as requested but Oscar had to be bribed. "OK," said the ringmaster after asking him a dozen times to hop back in. "I'll give you $20." Obviously, these were the magic words, because he reacted immediately.

Parkers mini circus
Parkers mini circus

After a few tricks from is cockatiels, Heckle and Jeckle, the ringmaster announces "the only bird with four legs in Australia."

"Alison is a rabbit," the kids delight in shouting out pantomime style.

"No," says our ringmaster, she's a 'rab-bird'."

After the show we wander around the farm, enjoying the live music is in the band), lining up for a sausage from the sausage sizzle, then taking a seat at one of the garden tables set with a bunch of peonies, of course. It's so pretty, everywhere we look; from the fields of flowers to the special picnic rug set up under a romantic blossoming tree with champagne in an ice bucket and two gloriously old-fashioned glasses waiting to be filled. (We discover later in the day that this little vignette was actually the site of a late afternoon proposal.)

Picnic at Romswood farm
Sophie posing at the picnic rug, site of a romantic proposal later in the day.

At the shop, there are dozens of floral, peony-inspired wares for sale. Handbags, jewellery, aprons, creams, this is a comprehensive gift shop. Only a few weeks out from Christmas, it's a good place to purchase a few stocking fillers. The owner, Virginia McIntosh, makes the deliciously fragrant peony candles, diffusers and cards.

We wander for hours, spotting hundreds of ladybirds on the buds, trying to choose the perfect flowers for our homes. There are huge pastel pinks, opened and almost drooping, there are tightly closed red buds and white peonies about to burst open. We gather a selection and front up to the wrapping trailer to have our bunches assembled.

Peony flower farm
Ladybird on a peony.

The area is renowned for its terrible internet access so visitors need to bring CASH because EFTPOS machines cannot be relied upon. This is quite a challenge for the city folk who make up a large proportion of the crowd. We're not used to the limitations and we never carry cash anymore. Luckily, we had come prepared and handed over our dollars in exchange for a bundle of prettiness and joy with true gratitude.

As we leave the farm rosellas fly along the road, keeping pace with the car for a little while, their red bellies bright and vibrant, their wings beating furiously. It's been an absolute delight to have a Sunday country road trip. We'll definitely be back this time next year.

Romswood Farm supplies florists in and around Melbourne. Rumour has it that they supplied the flowers for Elton John's wedding in 2014.

Tips for visitors:
Dogs are not allowed on the property on open days due to food regulations so leave your little best friend at home for this one.
Take cash. You will need it.
Bring your own picnic to enjoy. There are a hundred different vantage points around the property.
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*Danielle Norton was invited as a guest
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Why? For a great day in the country and to harvest your own Peonies
When: 17, 18, 24, 25 November, 2018. Dates to be advised for 2019.
Phone: 03) 54270415
Where: 155 Cherokee Road, Kerrie, Victoria.
Cost: $12 for adults. Kids and students are free.
Your Comment
Sounds an idyllic day and the photos are spectacular
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|5927) 669 days ago
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