The evolving garden of discovery

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Barbara Baikie and Peter Fletcher… “We find solace from putting love into the garden.” Photo: Holly Treadaway

“TERROUX” is a meaningful garden for owners Peter Fletcher and Barbara Baikie, who started planting trees, shrubs and flowers on the Wallaroo property 15 years ago from the bare ground up. 

Overlooking the Brindabellas, a series of garden rooms now frame their house, featuring a mass of Mr Lincoln roses, hedges of flower carpet roses, callistemon, conifers and photinias, a reflection pool, formal secret garden and a Mad Hatter teapot fountain made by John Payne, of Bingie Pottery. 

“Terroux” will be open to the public through Open Gardens Canberra on November 16-17 with a kids’ trail, lunchtime sausage sizzle and tours with Peter of the wider property for anyone keen to explore. 

Beyond the garden around the house, which is managed by Barbara, there is a park-like feel with three dams, horse paddocks and the beginnings of a new Japanese garden with cherry blossom trees and maples.

“When we bought the land in 2004 it was entirely barren, just grasshoppers, snakes and a couple of gum trees,” says Peter. 

Peter estimates he’s planted 10,000 trees and aims to plant another 10,000, using tonnes of horse manure from a nearby riding centre to break down the clay soil.

“We find solace from putting love into the garden and connecting to the land,” says Peter.

“We’re very aware of climate change and this shows you can take degraded land and make it grow again.”

Peter calls it a garden of discovery because there’s something unexpected around every corner. 

“I’m self-taught and the garden is evolving all the time,” he says. 

“Everything we plant has to be self-sustaining, tough and resilient. The garden cops cold and dry winds and there’s not a lot of water at times, so we water strategically.”

The couple say everything tells a story and is steeped in meaning for them, with a labyrinth for walking meditation and memorial gardens for much-missed family members. They were married on the property in a gazebo gifted to Peter from Barbara.

“I practise gratitude daily and I’m so glad to be able to share this garden with people,” says Barbara. 

“We love to put on events, hear people’s comments as they walk around and feel the joy and tranquility of being here. It makes us happy to be philanthropic and give back. 

“It’s important that we take the time to sit and enjoy it for ourselves, too.

“We’re truly grateful for what we’ve got.”

“Terroux”, 88 Rochford Road, Wallaroo, open 10am-4pm, Saturday, November 16 and Sunday, November 17. Admission $8; free to under-18s and Open Gardens Canberra members. Funds raised go to Global School Partners. It costs $25 to join Open Gardens Canberra and gain free entry to all open gardens until August 31. More information at opengardenscanberra.org.au/members 

Peter and Barbara are hosting a fundraising soirée on the evening of November 17 from 4pm-6pm, with a performance from jazz duo Victor Rufus and Tate Sheridan. Tickets $50 per person, bookings essential at trybooking.com/BFVCW

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

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