Leslie is perpetually on the prowl, always hoping to hit upon an esoteric eatery, out of the way oasis or atypical amusement. She as also a fervent fan of her spirited sundry subscribers and of amazing abounding alliterations.
Published July 22nd 2013
Killara's biggest secret is out
Psst! Can you keep a secret? Neither can I and luckily neither could Arthur Newling Swain.
Seventy years ago, Swain, a second generation Sydney bookseller, embarked on a quiet adventure. Mick, as he was known, began to quietly transform the bush land behind his house into an English country garden. Swain then terraced, sculpted and planted his patch into a dreamscape. The secret was out when Swain bequeathed his down-low domain to The National Trust in 1972. Later, the gardens were deeded to Ku Ring Gai Council who continue to maintain them
Walking into Swain Gardens is a bit like falling into Alice's rabbit hole. As you stroll steeply down a long curving drive the light becomes dappled and the air becomes heavy. Babbling to your left is Shot Machine Creek, while, and on your right is a vintage bungalow with its resident feline stretched out and luxuriating on the front porch. No matter the time of day, the result is otherworldly.
The grounds are pristine and never without colour. Thus, the Camellias of winter give over to the Azaleas of spring and then the Roses and Crepe Myrtles of summer. The roughly cut stonework, multiple terraces and manicured lawns create a serene orderly retreat from a chaotic world. From the tiered overlook or the hilltop gazebo, the view is at once expansive and intimate.
The gardens have additional amenities making them not just beautiful but also user friendly. An old tennis court has been repurposed as an area for outdoor functions complete with a table, bbq and benches. On the hilltop is a large gazebo with two tables inside for your picnicking pleasure. Other facilities on the grounds are also for hire at a reasonable cost. Should you like to host a small luncheon overlooking the gardens, there is a meeting room that can accommodate up to ten guests. Likewise, Swain Gardens is available for wedding bookings in both the gazebo and flat lawn areas.
When you visit, there is a great likelihood you will be quite alone in these magnificent gardens. Swain Gardens is a most serene and secluded place and I suspect that the neighbours all rather like it that way. So, if you do happen to see someone else in the garden nod, smile or say" hello" but whatever you do don't tell them who sent you.