Award winning extensive formal gardens of Sunnymeade
One of Australia’s best kept secrets!
Experience the delights of Sunnymeade garden, 1998 winner of Your Garden magazine Australia and New Zealand garden of the year competition and featured in Vogue Living magazine 1999, Australian Country Style magazine January/February 2001 and September 2015 edition, Better Homes and Gardens magazine February 2010 and Channel 7 Better Homes and Gardens television programme February and December 2010.
Hidden away in the picturesque tableland of the Strathbogie ranges, just over 2 hours drive from Melbourne in Victoria’s north east, in an area once roamed by the infamous bushranger Ned Kelly you will find sunnymeade.
A series of inter-connecting rooms, each with its individual atmosphere or planting is a style popularised by the best 20th century formal gardens such as Hidcote or Sissinghurst. But, if you transpose that style to rural Australia, add endless imagination, over 20 years of hard work and the best selection of plants available worldwide, you achieve an enchanting garden such as Sunnymeade.
Once through the entrance gate a border of perennials invites you on. Clematis sprawls amongst herbaceous peonies, foxgloves and roses. The legendary mandrake, with its broad leaves and fleshy yellow fruits favoured in myth and magic largely because its shape resembled a human figure and said to utter a wild shriek if dug up, that if heard meant - death grows here!
Leaving superstition behind, a path entices you onward in this section of the garden to a lawned area enclosed by Hornbeam Carpinus betulus, a deciduous tree from Europe to a vista terminating at one end with a garden statue and leading in one direction to a Persian style garden with a central raised pond and pavilion with brilliantly coloured flowers and exotic foliage. In the other direction is a Yellow Garden.
At its centre point is an arbour of wisteria heavily laden with flowers in late spring. An archway through a sandstone wall reveals a garden of old roses enclosed on one side with a hedge of purple and green beech, Fagus sylvatica with a focal point of a Victoria era wrought iron and lace gazebo overlooking a box parterre of swirls and curlicues.
Passing through a stone arch of local granite you cross the driveway to a sunken garden of hot colours in front of the Colonial Georgian sandstone residence. Wide sandstone steps lead onto a lawn bordered with purple and blue flowers. Featured in this garden is a decorative metal screen clothed in clematis and roses creating a sheet of colour. Here also grows a wonderful specimen of Tibetian cherry Prunus serrula, displaying its trunk looking like polished mahogony.
The eye is lead on by a distant large ornate urn and approaching this is a circular lawn enclosed by holly hedges. After the abundance of previous areas this room is a restful epilogue giving the mind a chance to quieten before venturing on.
Several paths lead from here, back to the drive through a charming Gothic style stone building, through a shady pleached hornbeam walk underplanted with Cyclamen hederifolium, to glimpses of colourful perennials, or towards the ornate urn. Reaching the urn at the end of the main vista from the house a path passes through beds resplendent with peonies, lupin, iris, standard wisterias and punctuated by the towering spires of Echium pininana from the Canary Islands.
The highlight of summer at Sunnymeade is reached next, a border beckoning colour planted on the principles of Gertrude Jekyll, a famous English gardener who perfected the art of using colour harmonies. The border starts whites and silvers, follows on to pinks, blues and purples and culminates in reds and yellows then reverses through the previous colours back to white.
A garden tower with a peaked roof and balcony provides an attractive backdrop for this area. Passing on to a pond, an opening in the border reveals a fine view of the surrounding countryside to Mt Wombat beyond.
A laburnum tunnel under-planted with winter and spring bulbs including many different galanthus, Cyclamen coum, fritillarias and crocus leads to the fruit and vegetable garden. A tunnel supports 30 different old apple varieties with a framework of espaliered pears on one side.
For those who’d like to stay over and experience the garden to themselves there is a charming sandstone cottage available.
Sunnymeade is a garden incorporating many ideas and themes, designed to enchant the less knowledgeable visitor and to tantalize the plantsman.
“The best garden I’ve seen in Australia.” Trevor Nottle, garden writer and historian.
Visitors to the garden should note that there is no wheelchair access to the garden. Please be aware and consider for safety reasons that due to steps, graveled areas and narrow pathways the garden is unsuitable for wheelchairs and is not recommended for persons needing mobility support. Disabled persons wishing to visit the garden must be able to walk confidently without mobility support and wear suitable footwear. Prams and pushers are not permitted in the garden.
Sunnymeade Garden was recently filmed as part of the Emirates 2017 Melbourne Cup Tour and Victorian Racing Club Spring Racing Carnival and was declared winner chosen by public vote of a competition sponsored by Seasol that profiled seven of the most diverse gardens across Australia.
Click on the video > for a view of Sunnymeade and the lower right hand corner for a full screen view
Refreshments are available throughout the day on open garden days from our new Gaudi of Barcelona inspired coffee shop. Lunches are not available.
Garden Tour Groups:
Groups of 30 or more can visit privately by appointment. Admission charge for entry to the garden is $22.50 per person (includes Devonshire Tea). Devonshire Teas are not available on open garden days.
Garden groups do not need to make an appointment to visit on days when the gardens are open to the public.
To make an enquiry about a garden tour or to make a garden tour group booking contact Craig Irving by telephone on 03 5790 8519, by facsimile on 03 5790 8518 or by email at:
2019 Open Garden Days :
SUNNYMEADE SPECIAL OPENING APRIL 27 & 28 2019
10am-4pm, sign posted from Strathbogie.
Coffee and cakes.
Sorry due to steps and gravel areas no prams and pushers.
I am having an opening as a tribute to my mother Margaret Irving who died recently, Sunnymeade would not exist without my mother’s support, encouragement and hard work. My mother was always happy to let me have the credit for creating the garden, but it was her light that lit my path and kept me going in difficult times and when l had doubts or lacked enthusiasm.
This weekend is to honour her memory and legacy. I hope you can make it as the garden looks beautiful considering it has been a difficult year.
The gardens will be open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on each of the open days .
Garden entry: $15.00 Adults, $7.50 children. Concessions not available.