Cloudehill is a 2 hectare garden in the Dandenong Ranges, just on the edge of suburban Melbourne. Waverley Arts Society blog wrote Cloudehill Garden was a work of art. In the 1890s the Woolrich family cleared bush in Olinda to create a working fruit garden. Then in the early 1920s, they established Rangeview Nursery and developed a cut flower and foliage farm. The family prospered for many years, however in 1962 bushfires devastated the farm and the business languished.
Jeremy Francis had long sought land in the Dandenongs to create a garden. He was introduced to the owner Jim Woolrich, the last of the second generation of the family, and learned much of the history of the nursery trade. After Jim's death, the family offered the property to Jeremy and in 1992 Cloudehill was established. The new owner decided to create a Garden of Eden, based on the established design principles that arose out of Arts and Crafts gardens. Everything was planned: the paths, the trees, the flowers, the sculpture etc.
I'm not familiar with garden design principles, so Katya at Bosco Parrasio blog was super. “Cloudehill is inspired by the famous arts and crafts gardens of England: Sissinghurst, Hidcote, Tintinhull and others. These, in turn, are derived from the renaissance gardens of Italy such as Villa D'este and Villa Lante. Our green theatre is a tribute to those magnificent Italian hill gardens. Of course Cloudehill's location, with its gentle slopes, the dramatic forest to one side and exhilarating views to the mountains, provide plenty of inspiration and the placing of art works into the gardens give a contemporary twist to a classic design”. With the daffodils, she said, we see the change from the structured to the naturalistic.
See photos of Sissinghurst gardens, created in the 1930s by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson, in Gardens of a Golden Afternoon. Examine Bishop's Gate which connects the Tower Lawn to the White Garden - the plants are not Australian, but the vistas and garden architecture are familiar.
Intelligblog noted that Cloudehill was laid out in about 20 rooms or garden compartments, all on different levels and linked by paths. Each compartment has its own theme, but there are also integrating elements, like brick and stonework, lined by herbaceous borders and clipped hedges that make each compartment feel an essential component of an integrated whole. Water features and art pieces were the modernising highlight for Nicholas.
VARPORIUM CENTRAL blog suggested “to see the perennial borders at their best on a clear morning after rain with the mist rising and melting is nothing short of miraculous. Flora Aik blog was just mesmerised with the estate.
If there is any disagreement, it is over the sculpture. In a new experimental part of the garden where it is too steep to walk, the new owner has used C17th Italian commedia dell'arte figures by Lazlo Biro to create what he hoped would be a really bold element and a wonderful focal point. Perhaps C17th gardens in northern Italy really did have lawned spaces where commedia dell'arte troupes played. But for me they didn’t fit into C21st Melbourne. The hugs garden pots, on the other hand, were wonderful.
p.s People interested in the art of landscaping might like to look at a blog called Corporate Stay Solutions.
From the Archives: Mistletoe Madness, 1796
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