Open garden / Heavenly views from Carol’s hillside haven

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_D4S4070-PanoCAROL Kemp says that because the views from her home in Calwell are nothing short of spectacular, she knew her garden had to be special, too.

“When we first moved in, it was a dead, overgrown mess,” says Carol.

“But I knew I could turn it into something that would more than match up to the views beyond.”

Carol’s garden, with a touch of the tropics and year-round colour, will be open to the public through Open Gardens Canberra on the weekend of April 30 and May 1.

The garden is relatively young, with only the cypress, yuccas, palms and albizia remaining from the previous owner.

“We moved in four years ago and I didn’t know where to start, so we invited friends and family around for a working bee one weekend and removed 15 truckloads of dead waste,” she says.

“It was all weed mat and black plastic, and we had to spend a long time, a couple of years, preparing the soil, digging in organic matter – it was hard to wait but whenever I planted anything prematurely, it failed.”

In the meantime, Carol planned a series of meandering paths and steps to enable better access to the steep block, and as soon as she could, set about planting a combination of “everything” she likes.

“It’s an eclectic garden, and it’s full of all the things I love – exotics, natives, tall, small, colour, foliage and tropical plants,” she says.

Carol says she has created several sitting areas, each of which captures a different view and celebrates an aspect of the garden.

“My favourite spot to sit is by the rose garden, where I can look out at the beauty around me and contemplate life,” she says.

“The garden takes a lot of my time but there is nothing like sitting and enjoying the heady scent of roses drifting in the air.”

Carol has also built a Mediterranean seating area, entered through a laburnum arch, with a stunning protea, wisteria, palms, ferns and little pops of tropical colour.

“It’s a very young garden and it’s got a lot of growth to do, and a lot of character to take on,” she says.

“But it’s such a special place and when I sit out here enjoying the views, I feel I could be anywhere in the world.”

109 O’Connor Circuit, Calwell, open 10am-4pm, Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1. Admission $8; free to under-18s and Open Gardens Canberra members. Plants and refreshments will be for sale, with funds raised going to beyondblue. It costs $25 to join Open Gardens Canberra and gain free entry to all open gardens until August 31, 2017. More information at


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

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