38 ~ Australian Joint Stock Bank, 1892Cnr Bridge and Hill Streets
The Garden at Geall
purchased the property in 1997 we named it Geall (GY-al),
Gaelic for 'promise,' because it fulfilled a commitment we had made
to each other and because we could see what it promised to become.
In the beginning there was really nothing but grass and a very few
trees and shrubs. Only the fig tree, the peach tree, and the
Euonymus survive. Almost all the original shrubs had to be removed
for a variety of reasons and only the white lilac in the Entry
Garden and a very old red rose in the Hot Border remain.
The property is
Heritage Listed and so early on we thought to keep the plant
choices, particularly the roses, to those available in the 1890's,
when it was built. Although we do have many old roses, we were
seduced by David Austin's English Roses and the plant choices
The property was
originally a bank with manager's quarters attached. When a problem
occurred, the bank's solution invariably was to pour more concrete.
We removed 120 square metres of concrete and replaced it with
reclaimed brick set in a basket-weave pattern. The property is on a
slope, which had been partially terraced. We removed some fill,
extended the existing brick retaining walls, included several dry
stone wall features and added steps between the levels. This has
allowed us to create a garden which unfolds as you walk around it.
structure, with the retaining walls, brick terrace and walks, and
box hedges is formal. However, the plantings within that frame are
relaxed and very informal. In spite of this being a small town
garden (approximately 1200 square metres of garden) you will find
growing collections of roses, hellebores, hostas, penstemons,
euphorbias, achillea (yarrow), conifers, primulas, aquilegias, iris,
species geraniums, and sedums. There are many little treasures to
delight the observant, such as Arisaema consanguineum (Jack in the
Pulpit), Convallaria majalis ‘Rosea’ (pink Lily-of-the-Valley),
Abies Koreana ‘Silberlocke’ (Korean fir), Pulsatilla vulgaris
(pasqueflower), etc. Unfortunately, not all will be
in bloom during your visit. A partial list of the plants is
available for use during your visit.
Gardening in the
New England is always a challenge with dry cold winters and warm
moist summers and this has been a particularly challenging year in
the garden. Last winter saw more severe frosts than normal and after
years of training the wisteria to frame the side veranda there was
significant die back. The unusual heat this summer also took its
toll with the loss of a number of established plants. Of course,
this is Australia and we should not complain when we choose to have
an English-style cool weather garden.
Like all gardens, this one is not
'finished.' We are working toward more year-round interest and
adding more fragrance. Plants get moved around or replaced depending
on performance. Although this is a labour-intensive garden we enjoy
our time in it and have learned to relax about the imperfections and
celebrate the feeling of peace and beauty we find here.
Tom and Marcella O'Connor