A sustainable oasis in Bywong

Using salvaged materials and permaculture principles, landscape designers Jennie and Chris Curtis have created a sustainable house, a huge, wildly productive veggie patch and a stylish garden packed with trial plantings of native cultivars at their home in Bywong.

“We’ve lived here for about four years now, although we have owned the land for 15 years,” says Jennie of the 10-hectare property.

“We’ve discovered that when you use salvaged materials, there has to be a lot of designing as you go along to make it work.”

Photos by Silas Brown.

The award-winning garden and small farm, Roogulli, will be open to the public for the first time as part of Open Gardens Australia on the weekend of November 24-25.

Chris says most of their efforts go into growing food, with a focus on the plentiful veggie patch of broad beans, cherries, quince, berries, asparagus and heritage apples. Strawberries are planted around the edges, where they thrive, says Jennie.

“Edges often get more light and water, so plants generally do better there,” she says. “It also makes for more weeds and therefore more work too, unfortunately!

“This year we’ve also started an edible food forest based on the permaculture principles, so there will be trees with an edible understory.”

Jennie and Chris also breed Sussex White and Sussex Buff chickens, as well as llamas and alpacas.

Extras on both days include a walking tour of the farm at 11am, a talk on “Feasting from the Permaculture Garden” at 2pm, and a talk on “Putting Sustainable Garden Design into Action” at 3pm.

“We’re learning as we go along, and we’d like to put the information out there for anyone who’s interested,” says Jennie. “People will grab on to whatever they’re ready for.”

 Roogulli, 45 Glendale Lane, Bywong, will be open 10am-4.30pm, Saturday, November 24, and Sunday, November 25. Adults $7, children under 18, free. Funds raised will go to Open Gardens Australia and Wamboin Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade. More information at opengarden.org.au

IN the big courtyard: Plans of the garden will be on display. Local plant breeders and suppliers of many of the native plants, Peter and Jennifer Ollerenshaw from Bywong Nursery will display some of their native plant cultivars. Architect Peter Adamson will be available to discuss the design of the house and Michael Quigley (Out and About Landscapes) will answer questions about the landscape construction.

In the paddocks: Glynda Bluhm from Alpaca Magic will answer questions about alpacas and llamas. Mt Fairy Mowing will have a display of some of the equipment used to manage the pastures at Roogulli.

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