Silky Oaks: Peter and Margaret Olde

This is a private garden created by Peter and Margaret Olde, it is occasionally open to the public through the open Garden Scheme or organised by the Australian Plants Society. I have visited this garden twice and feel I haven’t really touched the surface of what there is to discover. It is a very large garden that has been built from scratch, the plantings are predominately Australian Natives.

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I find this garden fascinating for the planting combinations, the beds have been laid out with plenty of lawn in a ‘Parks and Gardens’ style. This enables the viewer to wander around and get many different vistas of the garden beds. The layering of the plants is very clever, no one plant obscures the view or form of another; everything is well placed with thought as to it complimenting its neighbour.

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Silky Oaks is pretty much a full sun environment, in a recent talk Peter gave about the garden I discovered that this is quite deliberate. Both times I have visited it has been summer and quite hot, large trees and shady corners are scarce in the garden as Peter wants to prolong and encourage flowering times as much as possible. He believes you need full sun to get peak flowering for most native plants.

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One of my favourite things about this garden is the use of silver and grey foliaged plants, they are everywhere and he hasn’t clumped them all together as they do in many Botanical Gardens. He has opted for maximum contrast in colour and form and it really works.

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There is a large dam or small lake in the centre of the garden which the house overlooks, the water can glimpsed from almost anywhere in the garden and is therefore one of the main focal points.

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The garden is almost botanical in its collection, nothing is tagged so you need to have a little idea of what you are looking at or a knowledgable guide. However its not really the names of each individual plant itself that is important (although each is a wonderful specimen in its own right) it is the combinations that catch the eye.

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So if you ever see that Silky Oaks is open I encourage you to take a day trip out, there is something to inspire and interest everyone. Thank goodness for people like Peter and Margaret whom are passionate enough to create and maintain something of this scale, that showcases native plants in such a fantastic light.

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