2018: 313 Yendon-Egerton Road, Lal Lal
Lal Lal Estate was established in the 1850s on the banks of the Lal Lal Creek south of Ballarat by the Fisken family. Over six generations of the family have developed one of Victoria’s finest merino sheep properties and during this time have established wonderful homestead gardens which include many significant trees including century old English and American Oaks, Sequoiadendrons, Monkey Puzzle and Weeping Elms.
In 2014 the stewardship of Lal Lal passed onto Tianyu Wool who have been equally as passionate about the property and its gardens. Since then the gardens at Lal Lal, under the guidance of landscape designer Jennifer Clancy, have had the opportunity to be replenished and renovated to meet the changing needs of a new generation of owners.
The centrepiece of the existing garden has always been the mesmerising lake views with foreground of sweeping tranquil lawns and the background of Eucalyptus mirrored in the still water.
The gardens we see today date largely from 1911 when the current homestead was built, and from 2015 when major reshaping works were begun. Renovations included removing numerous outbuildings, animal shelters and tennis court and the relocation of the west and north driveway away from the homestead verandah and behind the newly established ‘Oak Lawn’.
The original extensive shrubberies and mixed borders have been expanded with a wide collection of Camellias and Rhododenrons, Viburnums and Philadelphus in the sheltered areas, and Cistus, Rhaphiolepis, Escallonia, Euphorbia and Iris in the dry open areas. The understory of the woodland gardens has been increased with Hellebores, Japanese Windflowers, Cliveas and Epimediums. A wider variety of trees has been introduced with a collection of Cornus, Flowering Cherries, Maples, Ginkgo and Palms.
A more formal garden with low hedges to retain the lake views has been developed on the north with a series of garden rooms leading from the house, with formal rose garden; a Crepe Myrtle courtyard with low granite (from the original quarry on the property) walls bordering an outdoor entertaining area; a parterre vegetable garden; down the central axis to a Crabapple lawn which opens onto the undulations of the rural picture of sheep grazing and eucalyptus stands. The proposed pavilion and long wisteria walk is awaiting the development of future building works.
As you move away from the homestead to the south, through a dense woodland garden, the more open park-like gardens and lawns, with majestic Oaks, Weeping Elms and Sequoidendrons and deep mixed borders awaits. This area leads down to the waterfall overflow at the bottom of the garden. There are plans to incorporate curved viewing decks to enjoy the magnificent views and gushing sound of the winter and spring overflow.
The HaHa wall and foreground lawn has been doubled in size giving uninterrupted views to the east.
In 2018 at the site of the mid nineteenth century stables, and the original homestead garden, a new woodland garden has been planted under and around the century old trees. A new orchard was also planted this winter.
The biggest impediment to the garden’s development has been the rabbits. An extensive fencing and rabbit control program has been underway for the past three years, and it has been useful to learn the plants the rabbits won’t touch, eg. Hellebores, Cliveas, Euphorbias, and the plants that they devour, eg. Anthemis, Correas, Hebes, and of course the roses. A continuing learning curve of garden design by rabbit !
Visiting Lal Lal (aboriginal word for water) is a wonderful opportunity to see a heritage garden with significant completed renovations, and continuing development works underway. This is an opportunity to enjoy a garden still unfolding.