Stephen RyanMy ‘Tugurium’ garden opening in May

My garden (and of course my partner’s) will be open for the public on the last weekend in May 2015, (the 30th and the 31st) which is the final weekend of openings for Open Gardens Australia (OGA), and the impending event started me thinking.

Autumn colours at Tugurium

Autumn colours at Tugurium

It is truly sad that this organisation is folding at the end of June but never fear, something will rise from the ashes! I am reliably informed that N.S.W. and South Australia already have their acts together and have registered new state based schemes and Victoria is well underway in doing the same. So although the end of a long era has come, new things are afoot and garden visiting will not stop.

I have a long association with OGA dating well back to near its beginning as the Victorian Garden Scheme. I have opened my own garden 35 times, have been a local selector for the scheme as well as done a stint on the Victorian Committee so I have seen it from lots of different angles and perspectives.

Garden at Tugurium

Garden at Tugurium

The best things about OGA was that it encouraged Australians to become garden visitors so that they could see what could be done as well as encouraging those that were opening to put their best feet forward. There is nothing to compare with seeing things in the flesh: no book, telly show, radio segment or lecture can do what being in someone else’s garden can.

Tugurium in autumn

Tugurium in autumn

Without insider information to go on I can only surmise that competing garden openings and the expense of running a scheme on a national level were in the end too much for those on committee and the hard decision was then made so hopefully the new state based groups will learn from the past and flourish into the future as we really must continue opening gardens no matter who does it.

Why have I opened ‘Tugurium‘ so often one might well ask, and no I am not a masochist! As a nurseryman it is obviously good P.R. for both my partner’s botanic art and me as well. So I guess that is a reason enough you might think but there are other more general reasons for opening anyone’s garden that have always been my prime motivations.

Most importantly it gives a date to work towards so that you can get the garden looking at its best and finish projects that could otherwise stay on the backburner. Nothing gets you motivated like the thought of someone pointing out the weeds!

Waterfall at Tugurium

Waterfall at Tugurium

More altruistically if you have something that you love and think is pretty good then it is lovely to own but even nicer to share with others whether it is a garden, a piece of art work or an antique sideboard.

Naturally the hoped for accolades are reassuring when they come and the comments and suggestions from visitors can open your eyes to all sorts of possibilities that you may not have thought of.

Oxalis cultivar

Oxalis cultivar

I have only just come indoors after dividing Dietes, planting Peucidanum and resettling a rose as well as spreading home rotted compost over the very same bed. Perhaps no one will notice these additions but I will know that they are there.

Oxalis cultivar at Tugurium

Oxalis cultivar at Tugurium

I well remember my first opening when I raped and pillaged my nursery to fill gaps with the plants that were left in pots to be taken back the following Monday! No one noticed the ploy since I cleverly mulched all the temporary residents. Before you start accusing me of cheating, all is fair in love and gardening and I promise that I haven’t done it for the impending opening!

So please make my swan song a ripper and come and visit ‘Tugurium‘ at 8 Centenary Ave, Macedon on 30-31 May, open 10am to 4.30pm.

By the way in case you are looking at the OGA Guide Book my dates were changed from June to May so as the organisation can close their books before the end of the financial year.

Oxalis cultivar at Tugurium

Oxalis cultivar at Tugurium

So what will you see at ‘Tugurium‘ at the end of May?

It will be about lay out and texture, foliage and form and the few flowers that you will see will probably be those of two of my favourite genera Cyclamen and Oxalis, yes Oxalis, as this amazing group has over 800 species from almost all over the world and only a few have proven to be weedy and most of the rest are great long-flowering garden plants.


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Stephen Ryan

About Stephen Ryan

Stephen Ryan grew up and still lives at Mt. Macedon in Victoria where he has run his nursery Dicksonia Rare Plants since 1980. He was for 3 years host of Gardening Australia on ABC TV and is a regular on Melbourne’s 3CR. Sunday garden program. He has written 4 books and innumerable articles for magazines both in Australia and abroad and is also a sought-after speaker at garden clubs.

9 thoughts on “My ‘Tugurium’ garden opening in May

  1. Stephen, you will be pleased to know that Open Gardens Canberra is also progressing very well. We will be starting up in spring this year with a good program of mostly new gardens (ie not opened before) in the Canberra region. We’ve been keeping a low profile but now that our organisational matters are well-advanced, we are ready to go public! No website yet so watch the media.
    Shirley Pipitone
    PS To contact me, email shirleypipitone AT

  2. Dear Shirley,
    That is great news and long may we all have gardens to visit and open.
    Regards Stephen

  3. Anne Vale on said:

    Great story Stephen your garden looks terrific wish I had more time when I was there recently to enjoy it! I do believe Victoria will follow the lead of other States and have a scheme up and running in the not too distant!

    • All seems to be on track for a new scheme that is Victoria based so keeping fingers crossed.

  4. steven on said:

    Stephen, thank you for being a passionate plant-aholic, an advocate of open gardens, a willing member (committee and selector) of VGS/OGA and a long time opener of your gardens. You are spot on when you say nothing compares to seeing things in the flesh, because being in someone’s garden is so much better then just seeing a picture of it. It gives you a completely different experience and feeling and for that reason I am really happy to hear that gardens will continue to be open. It is such a great learning experience too. All the best for your opening.

  5. Celeste Shadie on said:

    Ugh…had planned to visit your garden this May from the Blue Mountains nsw but family commitments got in the way. Desperately hope it’s not the last time it’s open….keep up the brilliance on 3CR. Celeste

    • Sad to hear you won’t get to the opening but I’m sure there will be openings again under a new scheme or perhaps you would like to bring a group through at some time.I’m always up for that as well.

      • Celeste Shadie on said:

        Thanks Stephen …as Pres of the Wentworth Falls Garden Club that would be a wonderful trip we might be able to organise…..

  6. Brian Pinder on said:

    We’re coming up this weekend and really looking forward to seeing your garden, Stephen. We’ve been to many of the gardens over the years and are so glad that the scheme seems set to continue in some form.

    Brian Pinder

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