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Garden Road Trip: Southern Highlands

Some of the best Australian gardens lie in the rolling hills of the Southern Highlands.

Rolling green fields, white picket fences, smoking chimneys and trees bursting into new leave as spring colours the landscape; many of the gardens here open regularly through the spring and autumn seasons. We spoke to horticulturist and local Carolyn Dwyer to share her favourites.



Tulip Time

Tulip Time in Bowral is synonymous with Spring and sunshine. It all began when a group of residents planted out their nature strips with tulips and the idea crossed the road to Corbett Gardens. Fifty years later, it is part of the calendar of events in this little bit of heaven we call the Southern Highlands. There is a real sense of community at Tulip Time with markets, massed displays of tulips and annuals, music and folk dancing. The parade down Bong Bong Street is always a hit on the first Saturday and local gardens shine with Bradman Oval the star for daffodils.



The Kaya

Out at Wilde's Meadow where the sky expands and the hills go forever, Les Musgrave has created a garden of rooms around the house and patterns of mown and wild grasses across a sweep of hillside.Les knows plenty about cool climate gardening after years of experience in the Blue Mountains.Now he is developing perennial beds, a wisteria arbour, gravel gardens and cloud pruned hedges.The charming country house sits on a sunny flat hill complete with work shed for Les and artist's studio for Elaine.Her botanic art is highly collectible and she draws inspiration from Les' creative plantings. The Kaya will be open as part of Southern Highlands Art Studio Trail on 7/8 and 5/6 November 2015.

The Kaya, 68 Clearys Lane, Wildes Meadow 2577


Retford Park

Rick Shepherd and his team manage and maintain the garden here for James Fairfax. Rick says “Retford Park is a very special garden- the very old trees are magnificent- particularly the Algerian Oaks and the enormous Bunya that has been under-planted with primitive plants as part of our Cretaceous Garden. It's not all about size - I am particularly fond of the delicate mosses that carpet our stone paths. Our hedged garden rooms, particularly the "Green Room" are lovely contemplative spaces. The sculpture collection is impressive- both classical & contemporary- including works newly commissioned and some recently arrived from the UK. And then there are the animals- chooks, geese, two donkeys, and emus in their newly renovated enclosure- families always enjoy the animals. The next opening days will be in conjunction with the Tulip Time festival.

Retford Park will be open for three days, Wednesday Sept 23 and Sat/Sun Sept 26 & 27.

Retford Park,3125 Old South Rd, Bowral




Rush Cafe, Bowral

They roast their own coffees, all aromatic and delicious caramel flavours. Hot ciabatta roll with roast beef is my favourite, frittata and fish cakes, home made cakes and friands.

Gumnut Pattisserie in Bong Bong Street Bowral has won the Royal Easter Show awards more times than they can display all the ribbons. European recipes and queues out the door.


Stones at Berrima

Former London hotel chefs, Mark and Belinda bring classy food to Stones. Cooked on site, you can sometimes watch pastry being rolled out on marble slabs. An original Georgian sandstone house with minimalist style and a sunny front veranda, it’s the perfect place for a leisurely lunch.