Saturday, March 24, 2012

Plump figs, spiky chestnuts, one hundred year old camellias

Winding pathways; roses, hibiscus, sunflowers, fuchsias and camellias over 100 years of age; flowers buzzing with bees; succulents and shrubs; a sundial, pond and a waterfall that uses a hand pump to make water fall over a series of old shovels to a pool below -- all these and more make up the Churchill Island cottage garden.

This garden is lovingly tended by the Phillip Island Nature Park and a team of volunteers belonging to the organisation 'Friends of Churchill Island', whose vision is to "preserve that which is precious".

Located on the top of a gentle rise (overlooking the 72 ha of the Churchill Island farm, and surrounded by the glittering blue of Western Port Bay), the garden and orchard surrounding Amess House thrives, due to the friable orange-red volcanic soil, reliable rainfall and moderate temperatures.

The Churchill Island cottage garden and orchard was planted after seeking the advice of Ferdinand Von Mueller -- of Melbourne Botanic Garden's fame. The plants chosen, and the informal style of planting reflects a former time.

A wooden gates welcomes visitors to the garden, invites them to pause beneath the spreading branches of a fig -- laden with plump green fruit -- look up into the foliage of a chestnut tree, dripping with spiky chestnuts.

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