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Cloudehill garden

Cloudehill comprises five acres of some of the loveliest volcanic soil in the Dandenongs. Our soils and climate (lower temperatures with higher humidity and rainfall) are why the region is thought to be one of the finest areas in the world for cool climate gardening.

 The principal terraces of the garden are in the Arts and Crafts style. Associated with Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens, the gardens combine both formal structure and informal planting within each of the garden rooms. With 25 different areas to explore each with its own character and season of interest, the gardens range from formal with clipped hedges and topiary as you enter, through to the more relaxed bulb meadows in the lower sections of the garden. 

Take a peek into some of the many sections of the garden below and learn about Cloudehill's interesting history

The warm borders

The first of our Summer Borders deliver vibrant colours featuring yellow, orange and red, along with some purple, scarlet and even little dashes of pink. They begin flowering in mid-November and build through December to a mid-season climax in January. 

Perennials include crocosmias, rudbeckias, monardas, sanguisorbas, persicarias, the simply amazing, Ligularia ‘The Rocket’ with spires of golden flowers clinging to black stems and wonderfully architectural foliage, and many more. At least 100 different perennials are planted within the border to ensure a beautiful display over three months.

The maple court

This is the focus of the garden, where our two most prominent axes cross, that of our main Terrace and the steps leading from our Theatre between the maples. Four beds surround this intersection, the two Yokohama maples having pride of places in the upper beds while the lower ones are devoted to parterres made of box, Buxus sempervirens. 

The maples are our two superb Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Atropurpureum' which were brought in from Yokohama in 1928. They were moved to their present site and the garden constructed around them in 1992 and after a year or two settling down they have increased in size by three to four fold. 

Under the maples we have woodland plants such as snowdrops and pewter-leafed forms of Cyclamen coum flowering in winter, and later there’s erythoniums, tiarellas, the blue-flowering Corydalis flexuosa and white and red flowering forms of astrantia.

The cool borders

Longer and more complicated than the Warm Borders, there’s less repetition and a much larger palette of up to three hundred different perennials used, the number varying each year as we try new and different plants. The hedge on the lower side is the grey-green conifer, Thuya occidentalis ‘Fastigiata’ while above the stone retaining wall on the top side, we have a common box hedge, Buxus sempervirens, with a backdrop of various shrubs and trees on the slope above including a length of the silver-leafed Eleagnus macrophylla

Perennials include of course the sages, and also nepetas, santolinas, sanguisorbas, veronicastrums and late-flowerers such as sedums, persicarias and dahlias. Ornamental grasses also feature beginning with the copper-gold Stipa gigantea and creamy-white Phalaris arundinacea Mervyn Feecey’s form, and later various Miscanthus sinensis selections in silver to mushroom-pink such as M. ‘Flamingo’, M. ‘Sarabande’ and M. ‘Silber Feder’. 

The beeches and the commedia Lawn

The beeches at the end of the terrace are two of the Fred Streeter collection sent to Teddy Woolrich in 1928. The first is a tricolor beech, Fagus sylvatica roseomarginata, the second tree is the rather rare Fernleaf beech, F. heterophylla. These two have been growing side by side for nearly 100 years now and they are magnificent.

To the right and on the slope above, we have our Commedia del Arte Lawn, with cut-out figures of Commedia characters, Pulcinello, Harlequin, El Capitano and Scarpino. Above them we have a Pierrot, and in this instance a cut out version of Watteau’s ‘A Pierrot called Gilles’.

Our cut out Commedia figures disport themselves in strips of rough grass which are full of species tulips in spring and South African bulbs later in the season. The surrounding hedge is green beech and to the left one finds a little glasshouse full of succulents with beehives up above.

The shrub walk

Within the shrub walk, you'll find a golden catalpa, a golden variegated pampas grass, Cortaderia selloana ‘Aureo-lineata’ and the tawny-yellow form of the Japanese maple, Acer palmatum ‘Peaches and Cream'. As you move through the walk, colours change from golds to greys, greens and silvers. For instance, Buddleia crispa with its wonderfully crumpled grey-silver leaves, and a number of the Scotch roses, forms of Rosa spinosissima with masses of small cream and pink flowers over bristly grey-green stems and many with good autumn colour. 

Along this walk we have a collection of dwarf trees in pots. These give something of the appearance of bonsais but are really selections of various trees that happen to be very, very dwarf and do quite well in pots. Ours are placed on handsome bluestone pedestals and sit quite happily in amongst the shrubs. 

The peony pavilion

The pavilion is a small but elaborate brick building with room for two to sit and admire the view and admire the collection of hostas mainly growing in pots to each side. This is a pleasantly shady spot and ideal for hostas and other woodlanders such as epimediums, ligularias, various ferns, and the very architectural and rare, Paris polyphylla

Further down the slope, you'll find a pair of golden fastigiate beech, Fagus sylvatica ‘Dawyck Gold’, and around these a collection of American tree peonies in yellows and oranges and flame colours. 

The quadrangle and the marquee lawn

 The Quadrangle holds a collection of topiary box, with many different species and selections of box treated in quite a few different ways. 

To the east of the quadrangle, down a set of curving brick steps, there is a small formal space largely occupied by a marquee, used occasionally for weddings and other events. To the left is a border of shade-loving shrubs, hydrangeas and the like, while to the right is a border of sun lovers, roses and a couple of the new and very handsome Itoh peonies which flower spectacularly late spring to early summer. 

The copper beech walk

These trees date back to Jim Woolrich’s flower farm, planted in the 1950s to supply foliage to the flower markets, the trees climbed every few years and were cut back, with foliage used as ‘filler material’ for flower arrangements. This walk is beautiful at any time of the year however particularly in October as the beeches leaf out.

At the end of the beech, the path curves around a magnificent Acer cappadocicumwhere you'll find other historic plants including the colossal Magnolia denudata. This is another of our Yokohama plants and has now reached dimensions which make it the finest and largest specimen of this species in this country, every August it covers itself with thousands of creamy-white chalice-shaped flowers. 

The upper and lower meadows

 Cloudehill inherited these glorious bulb meadows from Woolrich times. Jim imported bulbs from Holland in the 1930s, with the bulbs being planted and used for the cut flower markets every spring. Those bulbs robust enough to settle down and naturalise have now had nearly 90 years to do so, and consequently they appear very natural in their surrounds.