Dr Anne ValeNarmbool heritage garden restoration

The heritage garden at Narmbool, outside of Elaine in Victoria, was severely damaged by a significant bush fire just before Christmas 2015. When the Australian Garden History Society visited in 2012 we thoroughly enjoyed the English-style gardens surrounding the bluestone homestead, and it was hard to imagine more than half of the lovely old garden destroyed.

Australian Garden History Society visit to Narmbool in 2012. [Photo Anne Vale}

Australian Garden History Society visit to Narmbool in 2012. [Photo Anne Vale}

Australian Garden History Society visit to Narmbool in 2012. [Photo Anne Vale]

Australian Garden History Society visit to Narmbool in 2012. [Photo Anne Vale]


Five months on, after a mammoth effort by the garden staff, the restoration of the garden is well underway. The fire was so intense that even the blue stone path edgings had splintered. These have been replaced and reset.

Damage at Narmbool after the 2015 fire. [Photo Gillian Armstrong]

Damage at Narmbool after the 2015 fire. [Photo Gillian Armstrong]

A fine black powder was all that remained in the 50% of the garden affected by the fire. Fresh soil and lots of organic compost has been brought in and the melted irrigation system replaced. And some would say now for ‘the fun part’, choosing a new planting palette. With any natural disaster like this there is often an opportunity to reassess the planting style. Water has been an increasingly precious commodity so much of the new planting has been selected for its ability to withstand long dry periods.

The garden is a popular location for weddings with more brides wishing to have their wedding in the winter. Another selection criterion has been to choose plants that have long seasonal value including winter colour and form.

The Narmbool Site Manager Gillian Armstrong and the two full-time gardeners have done a marvellous job in preparing the garden for a new lease on life. The garden at Narmbool will resume its traditional Open Garden Day in November 2017.

Narmbool post-fire garden restoration is in progress. [Photo Gillian Armstrong]

Narmbool post-fire garden restoration is in progress. [Photo Gillian Armstrong]

Narmbool post-fire garden restoration is in progress; new plantings have been reassessed. [Photo Gillian Armstrong]

Narmbool post-fire garden restoration is in progress; new plantings have been reassessed. [Photo Gillian Armstrong]

 

 

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Dr Anne Vale

About Dr Anne Vale

Dr Anne Vale is an author, historian, lecturer and garden photographer. Anne is the author of award winning Exceptional Australian Garden Makers (2014). The sequel, Influential Australian Garden People, which follows the influences of the next generation, is due to be published late 2016. Anne records and assesses gardens with history through her consulting practice Heriscapes. She has written garden guides and histories on significant Australian heritage gardens including Dalvui, Mawarra, Wombat Park and Burnley. She has contributed articles to the online directory on Australian Women Leaders, the Australian Garden History Society journal, Historic Gardens Review journal and the Royal Historical Society Remembering Melbourne (due late 2016).

2 thoughts on “Narmbool heritage garden restoration

  1. Patrick on said:

    The restoration is in good hands!

  2. Anne King on said:

    Wonderful to see this restoration under way. I was lucky to visit the garden in Spring 2015, not long before the fires, and it was looking fantastic. Clearly it will take time to heal and mature but congratulations and thanks to all those who have overcome the initial heartbreaking loss and started recreating. Will look forward to visiting in 2017. Our Scotsburn garden missed the fires by about 2km for which we are eternally grateful.

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