When the Thompsons first visited the Mt Wilson property that was to become their home in the NSW Blue Mountains, their responses could not have been more opposite. Beverley saw a block that was bare except for marauding masses of blackberries, bracken, thornbush and native undergrowth.
Graham saw only great potential to create the landscape of his dreams, a sentiment reminiscent of one of his garden heroes, 18th-century English landscape architect Lancelot “Capability” Brown. Thirty years down the track, it’s hard to imagine that the four-hectare showpiece garden inspired by the sweeping lawns and water features of English country parks was not always so. “Initially Beverley thought I was out of my mind,” Graham says. “At first I probably was as it took us four years to clear the land and build the homestead. The only plants remaining were the towering gums and ferns, which are protected by conservation orders for being native to the surrounding Blue Mountains National Park.”
During his long career in manufacturing, Graham had spent many weekends while travelling for work visiting both public and private gardens in the UK, Europe and Asia. When he ventured into private consultancy, Beverley was able to accompany him and together they developed a clear vision of the type of garden they wanted to create. “From the outset we knew we didn’t want a fussy garden,” Beverley says. “We are both fans of Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens, so we wanted to achieve expanses rather than vignettes.”
The first of hundreds of rhododendrons and azaleas went in along the northern boundary in 1984. Feature trees including cherries, magnolias, dogwoods and maples were added to give filtered sunlight. The Thompsons then added an entry avenue of alternate plantings of tulip trees and liquidambars. To soften the driveway, a curved garden bed of small to medium rhododendrons was established along with a canopy planting of spring flowering trees. Two natural rock gardens were created where the rocks were too numerous or large to move. In spring, masses of bulbs — mainly bluebells and daffodils — carpet the ground and add interest before the deciduous trees burst into leaf.
The complete story was originally published in Australian Country issue 16.2. Click here to subscribe to our magazine.
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Words Kirsty McKenzie
Photography Ken Brass