Let us introduce ourselves – we are Brigitte Moseley and David White and we own the garden ‘Seasons’ at 5 St Georges Rd, Leura, which will be open in this year’s Leura Gardens Festival.
How long have you been opening your garden?
We moved to Leura in February 2010 from the Upper North Shore in Sydney. We had a lovely Japanese-inspired style garden in Pymble that the then Open Gardens Australia (OGA) was keen for us to show. However we moved to Leura before we had a chance and the interest by OGA transferred to our new garden. We opened for the first time for OGA in spring 2012 when the garden was in its early stages of renovation, and again in 2013. We opened for the first time in the Leura Gardens Festival (LGF) as a pre-Festival garden in 2015, and then debuted in the full Festival in 2016. We have opened in some capacity every year since 2012, but this year is only the second time we have opened in the full Festival.
How old is your garden and how big is it?
The house was built in the early 1990s so the bones of the garden date from then. The garden is around 1700 square metres with a very long English style terracotta gravel driveway.
How long have you had the garden, and have you made many changes along the way?
We have had custody of the garden since February 2010 and it has been a constant work in progress. Although I promised David that the house and garden were perfect and needed nothing done, I lied. Both have since been significantly tampered with. In terms of the garden one of the first projects was clearing what we considered to be the less savoury parts of the garden but leaving many of the beautiful established plantings. We had always envisioned sipping champagne in a gazebo surrounded by a fountain and clipped box hedges – sadly a Hills hoist, a scraggly lemon tree and a failed herb garden occupied the best site. Needless to say all were very soon victims. This garden room now sports a magnificent standard wisteria, a fountain in an Atlantis urn, a centuries old gate (allegedly from an Egyptian cemetery) framing a mirror that reflects the spring blossom – a lovely spot for an afternoon tipple.
There have been major renovations starting at the street, then both front and back gardens. There is really no part of the garden that remains untouched, and like any gardener’s domain, it is a continuing work in progress.
What is your philosophy for your garden?
Our mission in life is creating beautiful spaces. In line with that goal, ‘Seasons’ is founded on three principles:
Respect for the garden’s heritage and place – we inherited a special piece of Leura and much work, particularly hard landscaping, had already been done;
Visual impact – landscaping is intended to act as a stage, with the plantings having the starring roles, chosen as they are for style rather than botanical interest. While we know the names of most things in the garden, we can’t give you their Latin classifications; and
Emotional connection – our house nestles in the garden which can be viewed from every room. We can come home and think, “Wow, is this really our place?”
Why do you open your garden?
We open our garden for three reasons. Firstly, it gives us motivation to put in that extra effort to have everything just right. Secondly, the effort involved seems more worthwhile when we can share the results with others. And last, it generates a direct benefit to our local community – each garden that opens in the Festival can earn up to $15,000, with the funds going directly to benefit the Blue Mountains District Anzac memorial Hospital and other health related charities in the Upper Mountains.
What is involved with preparing a garden to open? How long does it take, when do you start your preparation?
The first part of preparation is to keep up a good level of general maintenance of the garden throughout the year. That gives a head start for the intensive preparation, which starts in earnest about three months ahead of the opening. The major efforts are pruning, hedge trimming, mulching, and pressure cleaning, which are David’s domain; my specialties are trimming the topiary and of course the flowers – I plant up to 1000 tulips, along with other miscellaneous bulbs and potted colour. There may also be special projects so that there will be something new each time we open – this time for instance there is a new little garden on the street frontage, which will be finished just in time for opening.
The Leura Gardens Festival starts on Saturday September 29