Coomber Homestead and Guest House – two classic Australian country gardens

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487 Cudgegong Road, Rylstone – 5 minutes south-west of Rylstone on the Cudgegong Road, between Rylstone and the Castlereagh Highway

Coomber2It’s no surprise the Homestead garden won The Sydney Morning Herald Garden Prize in 1967. Sweeping lawns dotted with well-established trees, such as golden elm and desert ash, are bordered with lush garden beds (planted five years ago) to provide a gentle, shady retreat. An edge of Elina roses – a subtle cream – frames the house.

This garden is being renewed in a grand style. One can imagine a table set with white linen and Royal Albert ‘country roses’. Across the paddock and past the shearers’ quarters, the Guest House garden sits beautifully in the farming landscape, providing 360° views of hills and fertile paddocks. Many of trees here were planted by Tim and Helen Evans in the 1960s: pin oaks, lindens, English elms, liquidambars and plane trees. 

Refreshments: Morning and afternoon teas by Rylstone Public School

Market stalls: Joan Schultz garden art; Grew Some Plants by Charlie and Lisa Page


Redbank – a meandering rural garden


1004 Tara Loop Road, Ilford

Set high on a hill above the Ilford countryside, ‘Redbank’ is protected by an avenue of pine trees and has spectacular views to Coomber Mountain and beyond.

redbank1Kaye and her husband Barrie (recently deceased) settled here in 1964, built their house and established a pastoral property that currently runs 1800 sheep and 30 cattle. The garden surrounding the house is an ornate cottage garden with whimsical elements, and will reward careful scrutiny.

Follow paths, wander, pause, smell and touch. Note the rich, fertile vegetable garden, the patio protecting rare plants, the various clematis climbing over structures. You will eventually come across Kaye’s 50 or so chooks, mainly Isa Browns and White Leghorns, and if you walk out into the paddock you will see the breeding pen.

Can you identify the amazing number of fruit trees including passionfruit, kiwi fruit, pomegranate, persimmon, Cox’s pippin apple, lime and blood orange as well as numerous citrus, stone and seed fruit?


Hazelgrove – a haven for wildlife and people

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1857 Bylong Valley Way, Kandos Opposite Henbury golf course, just north of Kandos Pool

Starting with an almost bare landscape, Peter and Bonnie took into account drainage, soil, heat and frost in selecting and planting their two-acre garden. This has resulted in a flourishing mix of native, exotic, hardy and edible plants. They have created a waterwise environment through rainwater collection, extensive mulching and drip irrigation; and they source waste materials to fertilise their garden and create inspired garden art.

Wander through the native garden at the front and an extensive parkland at the rear, including an elf garden, unusual paths, unique garden art and numerous ponds. Feel free to amble into the sheep and chook paddock where you can peep into the propagation room and hot house.

Don’t forget to visit the extensive vegetable garden plots, the orchard and frost-sensitive room on the southern side of the house. And when you are tired, rest on one of the many garden seats.

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Pat’s Place – Set in Stone

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83 Mudgee Street, Rylstone

Photo 16-2-18, 5 09 06 pmThis garden is of interest for its structural features as much as its plantings. Note as you enter, the 30cm thick stone wall on 10cm footings, which Pat built herself. The back stone section of the house was built in the 1890s and of even greater historical interest is the beehive well (learn more from the sign).

Wander along granite paths which take you to the boundaries of the garden, over a bridge, beside a fishpond, beneath arches and under trees (pin oaks, Manchurian pears and Chinese elm). Honeysuckle, star jasmine, wisteria and grape vines, soften roofs and walls. Pieces of whimsy hide among the plants. Pat has chosen hardy plants and waters her garden using well water and recycled household water.

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‘Keewaydin’ – a Panoramic Parkland

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6121 Castlereagh Highway, Running Stream

Photo 3-10-17, 9 44 22 am copyRae and Guy Sim built their house and began planting this sweeping nine-acre garden 12 years ago. Guy is the structural builder and designer and you will see his handiwork in water courses, rock culverts, climbing frames, stonework, terraces and well-placed, eye-catching sculptural pieces. Rae is the green-fingered artist, designing, planting and nurturing a spectacular range of trees (deciduous, fruiting and native) and bushes; as well as perennials, bulbs, succulents and annuals in pots, beds and paddocks. Their garden continues to evolve, relying on spring water pumped up to two 22,500 litre tanks sitting near the highway.

Photo 3-10-17, 9 52 24 amMeaning the spirit of the northwest wind, “Keewaydin” has its origin in the story of Hiawatha. Great location and first garden to visit for those travelling from Lithgow, Sydney or the Blue Mountains.

Morning and afternoon teas and light lunches will be served by Ilford/Running Stream CWA.

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Kandos Gardens Fair 2018 – Save the Date!

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The popular biennial Kandos Gardens Fair is back again and not to be missed by garden lovers. Put Saturday and Sunday 7 & 8 April 2018 in your diaries!

20171003_094514This is our fifth Kandos Gardens Fair and will not disappoint enthusiastic gardeners. The theme is “Every garden tells a story…” and we have a diverse range of wonderful gardens open for our visitors. Eleven town and country gardens will represent the Kandos Rylstone area – they range from iconic pastoral properties, to town gardens and even a Convent. Different gardens, different locations, different styles.

Of course there will be guest speakers, workshops and demonstrations to participate in. As well as a wide variety of market stalls and entertainment and exhibitions at the various properties.

So much to take in! We recommend scheduling the full weekend to make the most of this exciting event. IMG_2066

If you’re interested in holding a market stall in one of the wonderful gardens, please contact us and we’ll let you know details.

We look forward to seeing you in 2018.

save the date

Preview – a Courtyard Garden


‘The Hall’ 
June and Brian Keech 23 Rodgers Street Kandos
June3A little over three years ago this small, unique, courtyard garden was a rough patch of kikuyu and weeds. An area was levelled and the workshop erected using recycled materials. The brief was to have a low maintenance and water efficient garden. A small rainwater tank supplies drinking water. The majority of plantings were ‘potted-up’ from the owners’ previous garden and chosen for their hardiness, diversity of foliage and variety of shapes and colours. Succulents, agaves and other desert plants sit happily amongst hardy trees and shrubs from the Mediterranean Region. Prominent throughout is Garden ‘Art’, all of which has been salvaged from tips and throw-aways and reinvented. It is an easy-care garden which looks good all year round. And the best feature for the owners? No lawn mower!

Attractions at the Hall:

  • Found Objects Stall
  • Basket Weaving & Floral Work
  • Ad-Hoc (recycled furniture for home and garden)


Gunnadoo – A colourful Garden at Clandulla

Not just a pretty garden, it is famous for its strawberries and produce.

Not just a pretty garden, it is famous for its strawberries and produce.

I saw this Clandulla Garden in 2010 when we held our first and only “2848
Garden Awards”.  It was those awards which gave us the idea of holding the
Kandos Gardens Fair.

In the awards Fay and Colin Burchell took out first prize for a new garden.
And if you visit their garden you will see why.

Each year under Fay’s imagination and green thumbs and Colin’s handyman
skills their garden increases in colour, luxuriance and produce. Even if you
saw it in 2011 you will see many changes this year.

Fay and Colin have taken to the country life-style completely. Their farm,
four kilometres from Kandos, started as a country getaway but it soon turned
into a permanent home.

They built their house on a windy, rocky paddock of poor soil. Not the type
of ground most people would envisage a garden. But Fay and Colin have
performed miracles. It is a cheerful, abundant garden with a profusion of
colour. Roses, geraniums, perennials and vegetables thrive amongst
drought-tolerant plants. Fruit trees and well-chosen specimen trees are
getting established. Archways, trellises, fountains, found objects, old
machinery and ponds provide structural features while Fay makes clever use
of pots and rockeries to showcase her plants.

She also tells me home-made compost is what makes her garden grow.

As usual this year she will be selling plants (strawberry and honeysuckle, I
believe) and jams etc (her strawberry jam is to die for). Pat Tilling who
creates marvellous wall hangings and table tops with mosaics will also have
a stall there. There will be other activities but we are still working on
the program which should be out by the end of the month.

by Colleen O’Sullivan