We are blessed with great men of foresight here in the Yarra Valley. Ferdinand von Mueller, William R. Guilfoyle and Mr Alf Leader.
The first two names you may recognise as former architects of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. The third belongs to a man of equal vision and generosity, adding to the tree-lined streets of Healesville.
Mueller and Guilfoyle contributed to the design of notable gardens in the Yarra Valley including Dame Nellie Melba’s Coombe Cottage, The Hermitage of Narbethong, Tara Rise and Mt Yule Healesville and Banool Yarra Glen.
Mr Leader is a similar ‘wise man’, planting grand ‘exotics’ with tree-lined avenues of Quercus palustris (Pinoak), along with his contemporaries (including Guilfoyle who is said to have influenced the avenue of trees along River street, Healesville) of Populus (Poplars) and Salix (Willow), or specimen trees of Liquidambar styraciflua (Liquidambar), Acer (Maple), Betula pendula (Silverbirch) and Ulmus (Elm).
Mr Leader's legacy lives on in the gardens of Botanica Editions as we tuck the gardens in to bed for winter. Covering them with a blanket of freshly mulched, ‘home-grown’ Pinoak leaves, a sprinkling of premium grade, nitrogen based fertiliser, and a snip here and there to ensure a full burst growth, colour and fragrance shining through for spring.
Shortly after falling from the tree, with leaves rich in trace elements (any deciduous ornamental trees including PinOak, Maple, English Oak), take one hard working lawn mower (2014 version) with catcher or high quality leaf mulcher (2015 version).
New improved 2015 model - however the neighbours may not agree with the machine noise over the tranquil, nature sounds of the Yarra Valley.
Dedicate a sunny autumn or winter day (your neighbours will love you for interrupting the tranquillity of the day) to create dense, mineral rich mulch.
Bag it up, ready for spreading. It smells as good as it looks. Fresh, organic, and full of wholesome goodness, knowing you are completing the loop by returning the nutrients to the soil.
After removing any garden weeds (A weed, a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered– Ralph Waldo Emerson), spread premium organic Blood & Bone generously on garden beds. Organic Blood and Bone is a great winter blend if you can trust the neighbourhood dogs to refrain from digging the source of that delightful smell.
Liberally spread a blanket of leaf mulch throughout the garden bed.
Hand spread tight spots and fine rake to cover large areas. Keep the rake close to your body for an even spread.
The blanket of mulch not only helps return the nutrients to the soil, but acts as a weed mat, reducing the growth of those 'plants whose virtures have not been discovered'.
Sugar cane mulch is a great alternative for vegetable gardens
Prune and trim garden foliage in preparation for spring growth, colour and fragrance.
Seasonal pruning varieties such as Hydrangea macrophylla around April/May (southern hemisphere) benefit the flower production and depth of colour for the following spring.
Cut the stem to the high side of bud at desired length. Typically it is advised to cut the stem that has flowered to 2 buds from the base of the Hydrangea. It is suggested those stems that have not flowered should be left to become the following years flowers. You will begin to learn the patterns of your plant after a couple of seasons of pruning.
Laurus nobillis is trimmed to shape as desired. Habitat House and The Willow House each have a Bay hedge growing to provide a rich, hardy and seasonally fragrant border. Each of our guests receive a gift of dried Botanica Editions bay leaves for their own culinary or medicinal purposes.
Wish the garden ‘sweet dreams’ for the winter and arrange autumnal flowers in to an arrangement for The Willow House and Habitat House.