A little bit of garden heaven

THE gardens of the Blue Mountains are world class and a must-see in spring if you have not visited the mountains before.

Merry Garth

The gnarled branches of a rare Japanese Maple at “Merry Garth”.

Last weekend, I decided to take a couple of days off with a purposeful visit of one garden in particular, namely “Merry Garth” at Mount Wilson.

Libby and Keith Raines established this garden more than 30 years ago.  The land was part of the famous Wynstay Estate with a small workman’s cottage built in 1930.

The Raines, plus three small children, purchased two hectares in a largely cleared area surrounded by forest in 1979 to start creating the magnificent garden it is today.

Like all gardens, it is a garden in the making and like all gardens, including our own, will never be finished.

Many of the trees and rare shrubs were given to them by famous garden names such as Peter Valder, formerly owner of nearby “Nooroo”, housing Australia’s best collection of Wistaria. Or Paul Sorensen, who laid out the stunning “Everglades” garden at Leura, a garden not to be missed.

Their collections of rare magnolias, hybrid rhododendrons, dogwoods, maples and mollis azaleas is simply spectacular in spring.
The rock garden includes rare conifers and a collection of daphne plants.  The main purpose of my visit was to add to my collection of daphne, adding another 10 varieties to the nine I already had growing.

These were from their old-fashioned style of nursery as part of the gardens, rather than the supermarket garden centres of today. The nursery is a mecca for those looking for rare and unusual plants. Most folk connect daphne with China and Japan, however there are even more varieties from the Mediterranean region, from the hottest parts of Italy right up through the Caucasus.

To give you an idea of the interest in the gardens I arrived at 9.30am intending to collect my daphnes and be on my way – come 2.30pm and I was still there!  The gardens are open in spring from September to November and in autumn in April and May.


Windy Ridge

The formal sunken garden at “Windy Ridge”.

The next garden I visited was “Windy Ridge”, also at Mount Wilson. It turned out that we used to purchase camellias and azaleas 30 years ago from the owners, Roger and Wai Davidson from their Sydney nursery when we had our nursery in Yass.



The property dates back to 1877 as part of the historic “Yengo” estate.  Today “Yengo” is another superb Mount Wilson garden in its own right. The Davidson’s purchased the then-basic garden in 1995 to house their large collection of cold-climate plants.

This has now been converted into a grand garden with incredible brick terraces and features. Like most mountain gardens, this garden truly comes alive in spring. Quoting from their guide, it is “a garden to intoxicate the senses, of light and shade, of seasonal colour and exotic cool climate plantings”.

This sums it up perfectly and I am suggesting in your forward planning for the coming spring head to Mount Wilson, it is a little bit of a garden heaven.



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