Thursday, 5 May 2011

Return to the Deco Paradise

In the Winter of 2010, I visit and wrote about the Alfred Nicholas Gardens in Kalista.
Nestled in the Dandenongs not only is it a beautiful garden it is also houses one of the finest examples of Art deco buildings in Victoria Burnham Beeches the former family residence of Alfred Nicholas. 

The original



The grand stairway that leads down from the house to the gardens
On my last trip, I made note of the gardens- though still wonderful – were a shade on what I believed they would have looked like in their heyday.

One of the water features leading down to the lower pools
Well a very wet winter, Spring, and summer have transformed the gardens in a blaze of colour and growth that would startle any casual visitor.
My biggest mistake last visit was to assume that the gardens had become overgrown and were not getting the attention they deserved not being a horticulturalist and just a lover of well groomed gardens I‘ll put it down to ignorance on my behalf.
The gardens were stunning.
With the warm weather, I had no idea how many Hydrangeas were planted in the sloping inclines that run down the bluestone stacked retaining walls to the ornamental pool.



If there weren’t a hundred different shades of the round snowball flowers there were more. The grew everywhere including cascading down the side wall where the ferns popped through beside them. All the deciduous plants all bear and sleeping during the winter had come to life filling the gaps from my winter visit.


The Hydrangeas were so full of colour and so plentiful it was like colour burst mosiac

The smaller upper pools that flank the sadly fenced of Burnham Beeches were full of lilies that made the water look like it was covered with a bright green film.

The upper pools next to the house

The Camellias and ferns that ran alongside the fence had grown so much that it was hard to take a decent photo of the building. My last trip I could lean up against it and see inside the windows.
Mixed in the ferns and Flame trees are Maidenhairs and Japanese Maples as well fuchsias and Wisterias.

The lower pool boat house

Me in ridiculously comfy shorts

Down at the lower pools, all the trees were covered in beautiful green foliage make it a cool and pleasant resting place from the warm sun. A more relaxing and serene area would be hard to find.

The lower pools and the islands
Sadly the two small islands had been closed due to regrowth much to many people (including myself) who had dragged picnic baskets and eskys to lunch on the grass, which by the look of it had recovered from whatever was wrong with it. Luckily the lawns of the Arboretum were just as inviting over by the old bandstand.
As noted the gardens this visit was obviously the choice of the Sunday traveler in stark contrast to my last visit on a Sunny Saturday where I was lucky to pass more than half dozen people.

Fenced off and unloved

It’s still a crying shame that Burnham Beeches still lies derelict behind the link fence but unlike last visit I don’t have to visualize what these gardens would look like in their glory with people casually ambling around enjoying what is a very pleasant Summer Sunday afternoon’s stroll. All that was missing was the cast from an Agatha Christie novel.

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