By Tanya Steele
Open Gardens Victoria will open Wingspread private country garden to the public on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 April.
The garden is located on the lands of the Taungurung people, in Toolangi and began as a country retreat for owners Keith Hughson and Andrew Neilson when they purchased the property 14 years ago.
It sits 460 metres above sea level on top of the Great Dividing Range and takes its name from American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, spanning over two hectares of land.
The new house which was built in 2010 and was featured in Grand Designs Australia magazine.
Keith said they purchased the property a week after Black Saturday and only the original cottage stood on it at the time.
They began by building a new house and then began working on the surroundings.
The garden was designed to take advantage of the expansive views as well as the peaks of Mount Tanglefoot and Mount St Leonard.
“As we’ve progressed we’ve learnt along the way,” Keith said.
“We’ve had a lot of assistance from our gardener Tony, who has a background in horticulture and although he’ll tell you it was all us, ultimately we are a team.”
The garden has been opened in spring before, but this year’s opening will take full advantage of the garden’s collection of maple trees.
“The Senkaki maples were suggested to us by our neighbour for their year-round interest and colour—from the bright red bare branches in winter, through the lime green of spring, darkening over the summer before exploding into the most amazing orange in autumn,” Keith said.
“Over the last few years, we have expanded the gardens beyond the tennis court, with an array of rhododendrons and magnolias and a couple of garden beds of azaleas, smoke bushes, and escallonias,” he said.
The property has a few things left to do, with work expected to finish by the end of the year, with final progress nearing completion in the lower sections.
The opening event will support Yarra Valley charity Mange Management and local businesses will provide a coffee van and wines for the public to enjoy while they view the property.
The open weekend will also feature artists live painting in real time amongst the trees.
The owners have attended many Open Gardens Victoria themselves over the years and are proud to have a garden that people want to pay to see.
“We always hoped one day we would be able to do that,” Keith said.
The couple is excited to share the property with the public through Open Gardens Victoria and hopes people will enjoy it.