224 Longwood Mansfield Road, Creightons Creek
Garden Suitable for Pushers, Prams and Wheelchairs
Established in 1838, just three years after the settlement of Melbourne, Killeen Homestead is one of Victoria’s first farming properties. The 4500 acres of prime Strathbogie land have seen 176 years of wool and lamb farming and also more than 150 years of gardening.
When David and Joan Fowles of www.fowleswine.com purchased Killeen Homestead in 2003, the property was in disrepair but showed the strong bones of its early settler history. A major architectural and landscape renovation was undertaken to bring the property back to its former glory and beyond.
The Fowles commissioned Rick Eckersley www.e-ga.com.au to create a landscape that knitted together the previous eras of the garden and then extended them with a contemporary Australian interpretation.
The sweeping driveway approach to Killeen Homestead winds through copses of majestic River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) and Oak Trees (Quercus robur x Quercus caneriensis)before veering off to the original 19th century entrance lined with Canary Island Pines (Pinus canariensis). Significant specimen trees are also dotted throughout the entrance garden including one of the largest White Cedar (Melia azederach) Trees recorded in Victoria.
The driveway then opens to a planted gravel quadrangle of Chinese Elm Trees (Ulmus parvifolia), which marks the arrival at the inner garden of Killeen. From here, the garden is broken into a series of compartments that speak to different moods and uses. To the north is a working potager garden that supplies the Fowles Winery with fresh produce. To the south, the homestead and its associated courtyard gardens are linked with a contemporary steel arbour draped with Boston Ivy (Pathenocissus tricuspidata). To the west, looser botanical style gardens sweep around Italianate hedges from the turn of the 20th century and towering Red Gums many years older than that.
There are many spectacular aspects to this property. The oldest and largest recorded Wisteria in Victoria drapes across the façade of the Homestead. Three of the largest known Irish Strawberry Trees (Arbutus unedo) arch across the eastern terraces with a stately grandeur. There is even an exposed part of the original wattle & daub building carefully preserved behind some glass in the homestead interior.
But beyond the impressive features of the property is something more important but less tangible. Killeen Homestead has an easiness about it that belies it scale and history. Whether the views are distant or close, the plantings Australian or Exotic, everything knits together with a relaxed, understated feel. By combining the new with old, the garden has a sense of place and belonging that honours tradition but also sets a new path.