THE rolling countryside of the Bega Valley and a few local gardens were admired and praised by a group of 60 visiting members of the Canberra Horticultural Society last week.
The recent rainfall in the local area arrived in time to spruce up the landscape and the gardens on show, providing a stark contrast to the scorched and struggling environment in and around Canberra, after a very long, hot and dry summer.
The visit was the first to Bega by the group, and came about as a result of discussions last October between the secretary at the time of the Bega and District Garden Club, Dianne Campbell, and council member of the horticultural society Bev Leahy.
The itinerary included visits to Back to Front Nursery in Kalaru, Riverside Nursery in Bega and the gardens of Margaret Evans in Kalaru and Helen Dawson and Betty Egan in Bega.
Among those relaxing in Margaret Evans’s garden, enjoying the sunshine and scenery, were Wendy Whitham and Dawn Heinze.
“It’s lovely to be able to get out and see new gardens and plants that grow in the different climates,” Ms Whitham said.
“We enjoy meeting other gardeners and everyone’s been very keen and interested.
“We also love visiting nurseries and buying plants, so the bus is always a lot fuller on the way home!”
Ms Evans’s garden is well-known for its uniqueness and always attracts much comment.
It features various sculptures and statues, water fountains and plants, which create a kind of oasis in an area of Kalaru that experiences a lot of vehicle activity.
Ms Heinze said she was “quite impressed” with the sculptures and well-manicured lawns.
“You could almost think you are over in Venice or France,” she said.
“The metal sculptures [by local artist Richard Moffatt] at Back to Front Garden Centre are just amazing too.
“It’s been so lovely to see such greenery and healthy plant life here as the summer in Canberra has been really hard on the plants and lawns.”
Ms Evans said she had very favourable comments about her garden, especially the maple collection around the fountain centrepiece.
“They have also asked about the gordonia as it is unusually large, but it’s been in the garden for 30-odd years.
“I love how my garden gives such privacy, people are often astonished when they see it,” Ms Evans said.
The tour was such a success, organising a reciprocal visit is already underway.
“There’s been a great deal of work involved in this visit,” president of Bega Garden Club Bill Campbell said.
“But it’s turned out a perfect day.”