Meet Libby Litchfield, Owner of Hazeldean
Hidden in the cold, dry treeless plains of the Monaro, south of Cooma, are some garden treasures like Hazeldean, an historic angus and merino stud that is also the home and garden of Jim and Libby Litchfield.
Meet Libby Litchfield, owner of Hazeldean
Have you always been a gardener?
No, I was terrible. It was pretty terrifying actually when I met my mother-in-law, Barbara, who was a wonderful gardener and was living here at Hazeldean then. When Jim and I married we lived at another property run as part of Hazeldean, with a fabulous old bluestone house built in 1862. The first thing I did when we moved in was plant a row of marigolds along the front of the house which my mother-in-law was very very nice about. She only said ‘Yes Libby, lovely dear.”
Do you feel like a gardener now?
I do! We are very proud of what we’ve done. In 2013 we decided to completely change the garden, which was a tough decision, given the history of the place - Jim is the fifth generation Litchfield to live at Hazeldean. We’d been living here for more than two decades by then but I was still saying ‘It’s historic, it’s a 150-year-old garden, we can’t rip it up!’ but Jim said ‘Oh yes we can!’
The new east terrace.
What was the main objective?
Well there were several. Firstly we’ve had so many years of drought and gardening is a serious challenge here because of the dry and the cold. We knew if we terraced the slope in front of the house it would maintain the moisture better to keep the mature elms alive. It would also make that area more useful and allow more views into the landscape. So we dug up all the plants and moved them to new garden beds on the east of the house.
How are they doing?
They’re all thriving; they are time-tested tough plants that don’t mind the conditions. And the flat lawns are doing their job too - we have been able to hold events on the lawns, and in January will use the terraces for our daughter Bea’s wedding!
The pear walk.
What was the genesis of the self-drive garden tour?
The three of us - Sally-Anne Cottle at Shirley, Sue Jardine at Curry Flat and me - have all opened our gardens for many years, and our mother-in-laws did too. When Australia’s Open Gardens Scheme collapsed we talked about what we could do. We are lucky enough to live in lovely places with lovely gardens and it’s very nice to share them. So in the autumn of 2014 we launched Private Gardens of the Monaro and it’s been a great success.