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.
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. 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.