Cool, quiet, green and wild

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“I love to sit by the waterfall, there’s a little foot-rest there, and it’s cool and quiet,” says Christine Reid, whose peaceful Pialligo garden, Tanbella, with its stunning lake centrepiece, mature trees and expansive lawns, will be open to to the public as part of the Australia’s Open Garden Scheme on the weekend of March 5-6.

“The whole garden has a park-like quality – it’s wonderful to stroll around; it reminds me of going to the local park and lolling about under the trees,” says Christine. “I love the greenness of it, and that there are lots of private spots.”

Tanbella was designed by Dr Terry Gavaghan, who created the garden’s “fantastic bones” and the man-made 50m lake, which is home to waterlilies, koi carp, several frog and dragon fly species and perpetually hungry duck James (“he doesn’t know how to forage!”).

The plantings around the lake, including metasequoia and casuarinas, are a mix of natives and exotics, originally chosen to follow a colour scheme for each season.

“Thanks to the design, the garden itself is not hard to look after, except for the weeds – I’ve never seen so many weeds!” says Christine. “The soil here in Pialligo is just wonderful, everything seems to grow and grow.

“Really you’d need a full day a week to keep it under control, but I don’t often do that much.”

Christine says she loves being able to run her accountancy firm from the purple-painted office in the garden. “Being at work is like being in a bird hide; we have little fairy wrens, parrots, magpies, and they come and play in the window – I don’t think they realise I’m in there,” she says.

“They’ll come inside if I leave the door open. We’re forever trying to catch them and get them out.”

The 8000sqm garden is also home to 20 or so chickens, a veggie patch, a tennis court – “although none of us plays” and a spectacular range of fully mature trees.

“The trees are the real stars in this garden – we’ve got liquid ambers, magnolias, oaks, Chinese elms, persimmons, cedars and golden ash,” she says. “And I do enjoy coming home into the driveway, and seeing the fountain. It’s just lovely.

“I like the wildness of the garden; I don’t want it to be manicured and perfect. There’s nothing better than sitting in my favourite spot, having a cup of tea, with my feet in the waterfall.

“I just wish I did it more.”

Tanbella is located at 20 Beltana Road, Pialligo and will be open from 10am-4.30pm on Saturday March 5 and Sunday March 6 at an entry fee of $6. Children under 18 are admitted free. Funds raised will go to the Australian Open Garden Scheme. Tanbella Orchard will also be open for fruit picking. More information here.

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist.

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