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Welcoming visitors to a ‘dear old garden’

Owners Peter and Kate Gullett… “We’ve always enjoyed being able to share the garden.” Photo: Holly Treadaway

KATHRYN VUKOVLJAK previews an upcoming open garden – historic Lambrigg at Tharwa. 

WELL-established and park-like, with expansive lawns and shady old trees, historic Lambrigg has matured in recent years, say owners Kate and Peter Gullett. 

Despite the tough, hot summer, Lambrigg will open as part of Open Gardens Canberra on March 28-29.

Photos: Holly Treadaway

“It just keeps getting hotter, but we love being out here in the bush,” says Peter, who grew up on the property that was originally established by wheat-breeder William Farrer in 1891. 

Much of the garden was developed by Peter’s parents, who lived at the property from 1949 and created stone walls, garden rooms and terraces to help manage the steep site. 

“They grew a lot more flowers than we do; annuals and perennials, but we’ve simplified things with more hardy plantings, like hedges of rose and lavender, so it’s easier to maintain,” says Kate.

“Having said that, I’ve planted a small flower bed with mini dahlias, catmint and roses where we used to have a veggie patch, it’s a bit of fun.”

From the pin oaks planted in the 1950s along the driveway to an olive tree in memory of Peter’s family who lived in Greece, the garden also features an English oak tree on the north-west side of the garden that Peter grew from an acorn when he was a boy. 

“It was a good place to plant it as it provides beautiful shade, though I’m not sure I had that foresight at the time,” Peter says.

Peter and Kate say they keep the trees high and trimmed up to allow for vistas underneath over towards the Murrumbidgee river, and enjoy the magnolias, azaleas, tough pink and white dogwoods, rhododendrons, Japanese maples and camellias around the homestead. 

In 2015 they received a grant from Heritage ACT towards the restoration of Farrer’s laboratory, and say they’re now working on updating the infrastructure, adding stone walls, timber screens and ha-ha walls.

“We’ve always enjoyed being able to share the garden, hosting weddings and other events. We love it when visitors bring a blanket and a book, find a spot they like and settle in,” Kate says. 

“It takes a while to wander through,” says Peter.

“It’s a dear old garden. We’re fond of it.”

“Lambrigg”, Tidbinbilla Road, Tharwa, 10am-4pm, Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29. Entry $8, free to under-18s and Open Gardens Canberra members. Funds raised go to the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital. Visit

Photos: Holly Treadaway

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Kathryn Vukovljak

Kathryn Vukovljak

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