The family of third generation farmer Jim Ferguson has owned this Victorian property, about 20 kilometres west of Shepparton, since its inception in 1928. Known as The Farmstead Tatura, the property comprises 70 acres inclusive of a sprawling five acre garden.
Jim’s mother Di previously created a beautiful flowering scheme surrounding the home that had slowly diminished over time, until Jim’s partner Emily McEachern moved to the farm.
‘When Di left the property, Jim worked on taking out the garden beds and was concentrating on having a neat lawn and trees as he didn’t have time for maintenance,’ explains Emily. ‘I think there were about five roses left, but the area was filled with magnificent trees including ginkgo, various maples, weeping elms, and crab apples…I just needed to recreate the colour.’
The first order of business was installing some new fences and tidying up the garden that had accumulated all sorts of odd bits and pieces over the years. ‘Generational farms gather lots of old “important” things…’ says Emily.
Her vision was to facilitate a large, rambling Australian country garden influenced by English cottages. ‘I wanted to create a garden that draws you in and makes you want to spend the whole day out there,’ she says.
Working out the ideal plants to thrive in the environment was a process, but Emily was lucky enough to call on the experience of Di. ‘Who better to ask than the gardener before me!’
She started slowly with ‘forgiving, easy to grow’ plants such as salvias, erigeron, and lamb’s ears, and built on this palette over time through a process of trial and error.
Roses are Emily’s favourite flower, particularly billowing David Austin roses that are accompanied by Pat Austin, Abraham Darby, Olivia Austin, Jude The Obscure, Pierre de Ronsard, Boscobel and many more varieties on the property. ‘There are over 150 roses in the garden (and counting),’ she says. ‘Every bare root season I add to my collection.’
Hydrangeas, foxgloves, delphiniums, hollyhocks, snapdragons, and daisies instil an array of additional colour, as well as agapanthus that line the driveway (‘because what’s a country garden without aggies?!’).
Irises, cosmos, and chrysanthemums add further height, whimsy, and softness. ‘Everywhere now has something to enjoy — the pretty colour and the smell in the garden at times is wonderful,’ says Emily. ‘There is something about brushing against orange blossom or a waft of sweet pea scent.’
Emily says time in the garden flies by, estimating she spends around 20 hours a week on planting and maintenance. ‘A garden is uniquely your own; it’s a beautiful thing to do for yourself — it brings joy without fuss,’ she says.
As The Farmstead Taura evolves, Emily continues to learn more about gardening and how to enrich the beloved country estate. ‘Gardening has been my biggest lesson in life.’