At home with a garden of discovery

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WITH a dance floor on top of a vast water tank, a secret garden full of flowers, sculptures and water features dotted amongst eclectic plantings and music speakers hidden in innocent-looking rocks, Peter Fletcher and Barbara Baikie’s garden is a journey of discovery, with something beautiful and unexpected around every corner.

“There are so many things to look at as you walk around,” says Barbara. “It’s a harsh climate garden, and once things are established they’re pretty much on their own, but we have a mix of natives, succulents, hardy fragrant roses and lavender, perennials, shrubs, bulbs and ornamental trees.”

Peter and Barbara have lived up on the hill in Wallaroo for seven years, and even got married in their gazebo overlooking the Brindabellas. Their fascinating, “ever-evolving” garden will be open to the public for the first time on the weekend of October 26-27.

Barbara says the garden means a lot to her and Peter.

“We have trees planted for each member of the family, a memorial garden, and many plants that were gifted by and planted with dear friends,” she says.

“The sandstone used in our pond is from Peter’s father’s garden. The fountain in the secret garden was a surprise gift from Peter. The archway, I gave him for his 60th birthday. Everywhere we turn there’s a happy memory.”

When the couple bought the 58-hectare property seven years ago it was a bare hilltop, and they have worked hard to get it to where it is today.

“We started by creating the pathways, and Peter used rocks found on the property to make garden beds, then things evolved naturally and intuitively from there,” says Barbara. “We didn’t have any master plan.”

There was barely even a tree on the property seven years ago, apart from a couple of gum trees, but Peter has since planted more than 6000 trees, including elms, oaks, native wattles and fruit trees, with help from two grants from Greening Australia. He even created a pathway lined with Manchurian pears for Barbara to jog through.

“Gardens should be beautiful and sustainable,” he says. “It’s easy to get absorbed in the building and planting, but it’s good to remind ourselves of where we are, and how lucky we are.”

There’s also a reflection pool, where Barbara loves to go to reflect on what’s important in life.

“I’d love people to look around and feel thankful,” she says. “There is such a magical sense of peace up here and we want to share that with others.”

Peter and Barbara’s garden at 88 Rochford Road, Hall, will be open on Saturday, October 26, and Sunday, October 27, 10am-4.30pm. Adults $7, children under 18 are free. Funds raised will go to the Wallaroo Rural Fire Service, Canberra Refugee Support and Open Gardens Australia. More information at opengarden.org.au.

Information about other open gardens:

  • Walcott garden, 10 Wickham Crescent, Red Hill.
  • Burra Open Gardens will also be open from 10am-5pm on the weekend of October 26-27. “Aberfeldy”, 20 Wells Place, Googong; “Roselawn”, 1291 Old Cooma Road, Googong; “Glenbog”, 314 Plummers Road, Burra; “Tijara”, 100 Williamsdale Road, Burra; “Nankeen”, 28 Finlay Pl, Burra; and “Felix”, 1386 Urila Road, Burra. Single garden visit is $10; $25 to visit all gardens. Children under 15 are free. Funds raised go to the Lions Club of Queanbeyan. Visit www.burra.org.au for more information and to plan your visit.
  • Janet and Andy’s garden at 6 Gidabal St, Aranda, has been cancelled.

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