REGION - If bright flowers, fabulous artwork and watching bees and butterflies float about a garden are your cup of tea, then the western Fleurieu has something for you this weekend.
Gardens at Cape Jervis and Second Valley will be open for you to explore, as part of the Open Gardens Australia scheme.
Artist and former ABC journalist Winnie Pelz’s ‘Garden on the Edge’ at her Cape Jervis home overlooks sweeping views of Backstairs Passage and Gulf St Vincent.
Facing strong winds that carry a lot of salt, Winnie was determined to make a vibrant garden that could withstand the tough elements.
“I knew it would be a dry land garden and wanted a garden that didn’t look arid,” she said.
“I wanted green and lush with lots of bee and bird-attracting flowers, so westringias, eremophilas and grevilleas were high on the list.
“I’m not a purist when it comes to plant selection, so rosemary, pelargoniums, echiums and other exotics were added.”
She designed the garden in two spheres; a series of beds at the front that follow the land’s natural contours, and then a cottage garden and a gravel garden at the back.
Winnie is fascinated by labyrinths, classical mazes that have been used in meditation.
Winnie has built her own, which you can experience when her garden is open to the public this weekend.
A barbecue, light refreshments and succulents will be available, and her artist studio will be open each day.
At Second Valley, Wendy and Grant Pember have invested heavily into the garden of their 1856 farmhouse.
It has been divided into sections, including a formal herb garden, vegetables in raised beds, citrus trees and a peppering of fruit trees.
Wendy said the design was borrowed from an existing 1930s semi-circular rose garden, and emphasises the outlook over the valley paddocks to the sea.
Some of the plants are close to Wendy’s heart, as she planted succulents from her grandmother’s garden.
“At the end of each day, for us, it is the setting that makes this garden a joy to be in,” she said.
In their spare time, Wendy and Grant have also managed to lovingly restore and renovate their property.
The couple have reused and preserved much of the building’s original stonework and timber in their renovations.
The original stone from the building was lifted, relaid into the floor and an epoxy resin was poured over the top to create an even surface.
The shearing quarters have also been turned into a teenager’s retreat.
A light lunch and an arts display will also be available for visitors to the open garden.
Winnie Pelz’s house is at 49 Morella Crescent, Cape Jervis. Grant and Wendy Pember’s property is at Finniss Vale Drive, Second Valley.
Both gardens are open on Saturday, October 19 and Sunday, October 20 from 10am to 4.30pm. Entry is $7 per person per garden, and people under 18 years may enter for free.
Meanwhile, a garden in Strathalbyn is being prepared for its day in the sun, when it opens at the start of November.
Rex and Norma Kelly’s country garden at Strathalbyn features a very large, biodynamic vegetable garden, covered orchard and berries, avocados and pecans.
A frog pond, chooks, a goose, beehives, alpacas and cows all contribute to the health of this garden.
"The garden is managed using biodynamic principles with minimal chemical inputs and emphasis is placed on maintaining the health of the soil," Norma said.
Companion plantings of marigolds, comfrey and daisies provide a complex biodiversity, which encourages beneficial predators and confuses pest insects.
"All our garden waste is composted and returned to the soil," Ron said.
"The worm farm provides worm juice and comfrey is used to make a potent health tonic for the plants.
“Coffee grounds have become a regular addition to the worm farm and compost heaps, much to the delight of the worms, and the grounds also have a deterrent affect on slugs and snails."
Other features include magnificent clipped callistemons and the home garden of mixed exotics and natives under stately blue gums.
Serenity is located at 775 Old Bull Creek Rd, Strathalbyn, and will open on November 2, 3 and 4 from 10am-4.30pm. As with the other open gardens, the cost to enter is $7 and under 18s are free. Extras include information on biodynamic gardening, teas and plant sales
Open Gardens is a not-for-profit organisation committed to promoting the benefits and sharing knowledge of gardens. It does this by opening up to 500 private gardens across the country each year.
Surplus funds are returned to the community in the form of grants for community-related gardening projects.