Open garden / Beyond the exotics, the bush calls

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Photos by Andrew Finch

A SECRET garden welcomes visitors to Peter and Lyn Woodbury’s Googong property, with camellias, rhododendrons, peony roses and other exotics tucked away around curved paths under a shady hakea tree.

However, the rest of the garden is predominantly native with a dry creek bed, kangaroo paw, golden correa, forbs, grasses, grevilleas, mountain devil, native frangipani and other local indigenous plants.

“Being out of town, we didn’t want to introduce too many things that aren’t native to the area,” says Lyn.

“We feel the garden looks how it’s supposed to look and blends really well with the surrounding bushland.”

With a large, 16-hectare block that’s slowly regenerating, Peter and Lyn’s attention is focused mainly on the 0.4-hectare area of garden that surrounds their solar-passive-designed house.

Their relaxing, bush-style garden will be open to the public through Open Gardens Canberra on the weekend of November 28-29.

Peter says he has a particular love of banksias and has many varieties behind the house.

“I like natives as they flower for a much longer period of time, and they attract so many birds,” he says.

Lyn’s domain is the neat veggie patch, with a potato garden designed by Peter for easy harvesting, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peas, beans, capsicum, eggplant, herbs, cucumbers and corn, root vegetables and asparagus, and the vast productive orchard, which she says provides most of their food, including a lemonade tree, lemons, nectarines, mandarins, tangelos, cherries and pears.

“It’s so well-organised that it doesn’t require too much work, but I’ve taken over this aspect of the gardening since I retired and I love it,” says Lyn.

“It’s nice to be able to think, ‘what’s for tea?’ and go and pick it from the garden.”

Peter and Lyn say that as they mulch heavily, the care of the garden isn’t huge.

“We don’t need to weed much – it’s designed to be easy care,” says Peter.

“The garden has changed over the years as we do, and from season to season, but we enjoy giving our time to it.”

1048 Old Cooma Road, Googong, open 10am-4pm, on Saturday, November 28 and Sunday, November 29. Admission $8; free to under-18s and Open Gardens Canberra members. It costs $25 to join for free entry to all open gardens until August 31. More information at

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist with a particular interest in homes and gardens.


  1. Many studies are showing that there are benefits to fostering native plants and animals in residential and urban environments. As you mentioned in the article, it can reduce the time needed for maintenance and watering. Hopefully people will take more efforts in bush regeneration projects to help protect and restore natural habitats in the area.

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