A few decades ago a Sydney schoolboy spent a holiday in the country with friends, became smitten with the land – and later, on reaching adulthood, also developed an insatiable passion for gardens.
That schoolboy was Garrick Hawkins and twenty years ago the businessman began building a pleasant garden overlooking a valley on his property Mayfield, near Oberon, in New South Wales Central West.
Then something happened. Garrick moved overseas for several years, spent his spare time visiting great gardens in England and Europe, and translated his dreams into a somewhat ‘expanded’ Mayfield Garden.
Today, Mayfield Garden is set to become one of the grandest, and most inspirational in Australia.
The scale is almost inconceivable: it spans over 50 hectares (125 acres) with another 40 hectares planted with deciduous shade trees for grazing stock.
“I always knew I wanted a garden, but never planned on one quite to this scale,” Garrick says.
“The issue became how to logically stop it – how to draw a boundary which made sense in terms of scale, topography and geography,”
says Garrick who, along with Peter D’Arcy (Darce), his Garden Manager and co-designer, spent countless hours mulling over concepts and land-management issues, before embarking on each new area.
To give you some perspective – small trucks cross this bridge.
The Mayfield story is truly inspiring. The project has given opportunities to local tradespeople to become experts in horticulture, ironwork, carpentry and stonemasonry, as well as management. Darce oversees an accredited in-house training program for those wishing to attain qualifications in their field.
“We have very highly skilled and highly committed people. We’re a significant local employer, and will continue to be. Oberon is linked to tourism and we hope to assist in that process,” Garrick says.
The pride of the twenty five (plus) staff is evident.
“As the garden has evolved, I’ve seen people evolve. It is a family here – this garden wouldn’t have the love and attention if people didn’t want to do it.”
Water gardens are intrinsic to this landscape. A lake, visible from several areas, draws visitors like a magnet.
“Water in a garden puts people at peace,” Darce says.
Other features include Chinese and Japanese gardens, a silver birch grove, hectares of deciduous woodland with maples and oaks, follies such as an amphitheatre seating 1,000, Calluna heath and conifer gardens, embankments covered with rhododendrons trimmed annually to form cloud hedging, a Chevening maze, a stilted hornbeam hedge, rose gardens and croquet lawn.
A Robert Klippel sculpture is the focal point in the Parterre garden.
Aspects from many gardens, especially English, have been incorporated into Mayfield: Stourhead, Cliveden, Longstock and Waddesdon have all provided inspiration.
As well as visitors, Garrick’s own family, and especially his wife Evelyn take great pleasure in the garden.
“Evelyn’s input has been invaluable,” he says.
Although a folly, this amphitheatre has actually hosted hundreds watching a fundraising concert.
The family’s exquisite bluestone chapel is positioned high on a hill overlooking the garden. It’s built from locally made or sourced elements, (apart from the slate roof) including wrought-iron door latches, ceiling ties, doors from recycled shearing-shed timber and panels of antique German-style glass, blown in nearby Bathurst.
The cascade is classic Chatsworth, although Mayfield’s is slightly shorter, beginning beneath a hilltop temple and tumbling 80m down to a serene reflection pond.
Espaliered trees adorn the parking bay.
The season for growing vegetables and herbs is extended in the protected walled garden.
In true estate style, there are productive elements, such as a nuttery, walled kitchen garden, picking garden and orchard, complete with five-star chook houses.
When Mayfield Garden is open six weekends a year, in autumn and spring, visitors are able to truly appreciate both the scale and the many diverse elements.
In the not-too-distant future a 14 hectare area will open permanently, alongside a purpose-built garden centre with nursery, restaurant and, later, possibly an education facility, where the skills garnered at Mayfield can be shared.
Mayfield’s produce and meat will be central to the culinary experience. (Both beef and lamb are produced on the family’s properties throughout NSW.) Seasonal organic produce will be available including veggies, nuts and some old varieties of fruit, on which Darce has focused. “Sometimes they’re smaller but sweeter – they’re thriving and taste good,” he says.
If this is the first time you’ve been introduced to the remarkable Mayfield Garden – ’watch this space’…
It’ll be a garden to watch with wonder as it matures.
The most beautiful photographs I have ever seen of Mayfield Garden…. stunning !!
This report is extraordinary! thank you! when can we go?! wonderful.
Categories: Country Gardens