Home' Outdoors : WAs Best Outdoors and Gardens 2009 Contents flower power
From acorns mighty oaks grow -- and so it is with the Open Garden
Scheme, an idea that literally has its roots in bringing garden-lovers
together. TEXT Lisa Amphlett
It starts as a pleasant way to spend a Sunday
afternoon. Six dollars, morning tea, a chat
with a likeminded gardener, possibly even
a cutting from a favourite clematis. at's how
it starts, you see. at's how it always starts.
As anyone who has ever visited an open garden
will tell you though, it doesn't end there.
Take Jennifer Rupp, for instance.
Once just a casual visitor to open gardens, she's
now the state co-ordinator of Australia's Open
Garden Scheme. She has been well and truly bitten
by the open gardens bug, and intends passing it on
to all those that meet her.
It's easy to see why. Since the Open Garden
Scheme began 22 years ago, more than 11,000
gardens have opened their gates across the
Millions of visitors have been invited in, made
to feel at home, encouraged to ask questions and
sent home with ideas and inspiration for their
own little patch of earth, however small.
"I love the gardens and I love the garden
owners," enthuses Jennifer. " ey seem to have
this connection with mother earth. It's a whole
different attitude to life."
e Australian Open Garden Scheme was the
brainchild of ABC Radio's John Henwood, who
had visited gardens as part of England's National
Gardens Scheme and Scotland's Garden Scheme.
Inspired, he thought Australia would benefit
from something similar. John was right, and the
first garden to open in Australia was Chilcote in
Ferny Creek, Victoria, on September 2, 1987.
"As a community project, the scheme was an
immediate success," John recalls. "In the first year
46,000 people visited 62 gardens; in the following
season there were 59,000 visitors to 116 gardens."
In 1992 the scheme was incorporated as a not-
for-profit company. Tamie Fraser -- a dedicated
gardener whose garden Nareen had been open
every season since the scheme began -- became
president of the board and Neil Robertson the
e scheme finally crossed the Nullarbor in
1995, with the official WA opening at Raeburn,
on Riley Rd in Claremont.
"Opening the garden for the scheme was a
wonderful experience," Raeburn owner Rose
Chaney recalls. "It was a whole weekend of
talking about gardens."
Rose's enthusiasm for the scheme hasn't
waned over the last 14 years; if anything, she's
more passionate now than ever.
e garden at her home in Margaret River is
open for the first time this year -- two hectares of
magical landscape surrounding the heritage-listed
home built by the Bussell family in 1865.
is season (from August 2009 to July 2010)
there are more than 60 gardens open all across
Western Australia -- at least 40 percent of which
66 WA's Best Outdoors & Gardens 2010
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