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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Terroux: a garden of discovery

With a garden that rambles and stretches over 10 acres, there is plenty to discover at Terroux, a 145 acre (60 hectare) property near Hall, ACT.

Owned by Barbara Baikie and Peter Fletcher, the property will be open to the public as part of Open Gardens Canberra on the weekend of 16-17 November and you will want to give yourself ample time to explore.

From the immediate garden around the house to a pine nut plantation, labyrinth and a Japanese garden, the property offers plenty of inspiration. However, this wasn’t always the case.

“It was bare sheep country when we came here … there was about six trees on the whole 145 acres and I wanted to try and bring it back to life. The whole thing is about regeneration,” Peter says.

One of the biggest challenges has been the quality of soil – it is a heavy clay base that makes it difficult for trees and plants to become established – but that hasn’t stopped Peter from planting thousands of trees, shrubs and flowers.

He says he aims to plant 1,000 trees a year as well as to improve the soil quality to make “the place carbon positive”.

With no access to town water, and a reliance on dam and rain water, Barbara says they had to choose plants that are essentially “self-sufficient” being very hardy, low-maintenance and requiring minimal amounts of water.

“We had to be careful about what we planted,” Barbara says. “We try not to water the garden too much,” utilising bark chips and mulch to help keep the moisture in.

Sculptural pieces are scattered throughout the gardens, including this quirky water feature by John Payne which adds interest whether on or off.

The challenges of water have also inspired some creative thinking when it comes to water features, with most of the fountains on the property including underground wells to reduce evaporation.

Many of the water fountains also provide points of interest working as sculptural art pieces if turned off, with a particular favourite (for this writer at least) the whimsical Mad Hatter-esque teapot feature by John Payne. There are quite a few of his ceramics around the garden, which Barbara says is because “we love his style and quirkiness”. 

The teapot sculpture is in just one of many features found in the garden ‘rooms’ around the house, which also include a secret garden with a traditional fountain; a reflection pool; an enclosed garden full of Mr Lincoln roses; and a dry creek bed.

Further afield, the extended garden evolves into parklike areas with three dams each of different design and plantings – one flows over to a wetland, another has a terraced garden, and the thrid has a Japanese garden.

A lot of the gardens are symbolic with plant choice carefully curated. The property also features memorial gardens and a number of dedicated trees for family and friends, which Peter says they get to choose themselves.

If they choose poorly for the climate and conditions at Terroux, Peter says it provides an added challenge.

“If they do that, I’d have to work harder to keep it alive and thriving,” he smiles.

Peter and Barbara moved into their home in 2006 and despite the extensive gardens already created, say there is plenty they would still like to do.

The immediate garden around the house has many features and ‘rooms’, including a secret garden with a traditional fountain.

According to Peter, the Japanese garden is still “in embryo” while highlighting several areas prime for landscaping and plantings in the coming years.

“It is a labour of love but people often say there is a sense of calmness and peace here,” Barbara says. “We wanted to create a place of peace and harmony.”

Terroux is located at 88 Rochford Road, Wallaroo NSW. It is advised not to use GPS to find the location as it may lead you astray.

Terroux will be open as part of Open Gardens Canberra on the weekend of 16-17 November 10am-4pm daily. There will be morning and afternoon teas available for purchase.

Entry: Open Gardens Canberra members free, non-members $8, children u18 free if with an adult. Proceeds shared between Open Gardens Canberra and Global School Partners.

In addition to the open garden, on Sunday 17 November 4-6pm there is a ticketed spring soiree which will feature jazz duo Rufus//Sheridan who will launch the physical copy of their latest release, Documentation. Tickets $50 pp. Proceeds to Global School Partners. Bookings essential via trybooking.com/BFVCW

For more information, visit terroux.com.au

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