Held each year in October the Bathurst Spring Spectacular is hosted by members of Bathurst Gardeners’ Club Inc.
Net proceeds are donated to local charities. In past years we have provided equipment and support to the following:
Purchase of medical equipment for the Childrens’, Maternity and Cardiac Wards of Bathurst Base Hospital; facilities for Riding for the Disabled; Meals on Wheels; Daffodil Cottage; Careflight; Cancer Council; Lifeline: Fight Against Depression; equipment for a men’s shed at the Seymour Centre (local aged day-care facility); Headspace; Bathurst Independent Living Skills; CanAssist; Shine for Kids; Bathurst Early Childhood Intervention Service; Bathurst Community Transport; 2BS/Lions Club Christmas Miracle Appeal, Central Western Women’s Health Crisis fund, Bathurst Mens Shed, and an annual scholarship to Mitchell Conservatorium of Music.
The 2017 Bathurst Spring Spectacular will lead you on an adventure of discovery with this years gardens being a “Country Garden Ramble”. Explore your way around winding back roads to village locations starting on the outskirts of Bathurst City.
SOME OF OUR 2017 GARDENS
“Cambewarra” The garden of Marlena and Brian Welch
“Benning” The garden of Jenny and Tim Hector
“Wanera” The garden of Joan and Tony Keech
“Tranquillity” The garden of Ted and Lorraine Inwood.
The garden of Glenda and Steve Birrell
“Whim Park” The garden of Jenny and Taff Hancock
The garden of Chris Akehurst and Rob Brown
“Äberfeldy” The garden of Louise and Nigel Hamer
Spring Spectacular Flyer and Brochure for 2017
Click any image to enlarge
Map of Spring Spectacular Garden Locations
Click any location within the list below the map to focus the map on that location.
Our wonderful 2016 sponsors are:
- 2BS Gold
- Bathurst Bus Lines
- Bathurst Motor Inn/Charlotte Apartments
- Bathurst Mowerland and Heating
- Bathurst Real Estate
- Bathurst Regional Council
- Ben Chifley Motor Inn
- Bunnings Bathurst
- Bathurst City Life
- Churches Garden Centre
- Community Op Shop Berry Park
- Courtyard Decor
- Easy Living Footwear
- 58 George
- Hillandale Garden Nursery
- Australian Native Landscapes
- Hotham’s Sand, Soil and Gravel
- Mitchell Batteries
- Petrie’s Mitre 10
- Quality Hotel
- Robert Hood Solicitor
- Varman Landscaping
A paper by Christopher Morgan on the history of house gardens in the Bathurst area
Interpreting Historic House Gardens Around The Bathurst Area – A Very Quick Introduction for ‘Garden Detectives’
by Christopher Morgan
President and Honorary Research Officer, Bathurst District Historical Society
A short address given at the launch event for the 2007 Bathurst Spring Spectacular, Thursday 25th October 2007
Firstly may I say what a pleasure it is for me to have been invited to speak this morning and to participate in the launch of the Bathurst Garden Club’s Spring Spectacular for 2007.
And I would like to thank Judy Bayliss and Kerry Peck for their generous introduction. May I also just add a welcome to the Year 8 girls of Pittwater House Girls College who are spending the week in Bathurst and learning about our community life and history.
I was reading an essay by Peter Watts  a former chairman of the Australian Garden History Society whose observations about the place of gardening in Australian culture make an excellent starting point for anyone who is giving some thought to our tradition of gardens and gardening in Bathurst or anywhere in Australia.
In his essay he said the following:
“Gardening remains one of the most popular leisure pursuits amongst Australians. It is something of a national pastime. In the tropics or in the desert, in a small suburban garden, an inner city courtyard, or a large country garden – or a tin can on a tiny balcony – nearly all of us manage some form of gardening. Those who do not garden take advantage of others who do, frequenting many of our great public gardens and parks in large numbers. We read books on gardens and gardening by the million. Nurseries are packed with customers on the weekends. We have an insatiable appetite for visiting gardens, joining garden organisations and consuming related magazines and television programmes. Like most of our population, our gardening traditions and styles are largely imported, and, by nature, diverse. Our varied climates and ability to grow almost anything somewhere on the continent only adds to the melting pot of gardening ideas and opportunities.”
So said garden historian Peter Watts and it’s in this context that we launch the Bathurst Spring Spectacular and celebrate, as usual, our region’s wonderful gardening tradition, its wonderful gardeners and its wonderful gardens, this year focussing on the gardens around some historic homes.
In 1991 Juliet Ramsay  wrote a detailed technical paper for the Australian Heritage Commission about how to classify and asses parks, gardens and special trees for the Register of the National Estate.
She gave a comprehensive summary of the different main styles of gardens that most of our gardens can be linked to or identified with and she showed how different styles can usually be seen as layers in a garden which is old.
Gardens around historic homes – and clearly most of the gardens open this weekend – are old gardens, or contain old elements, and therefore reflect this notion of layers of different styles – a gradual evolution form one style to the next where each successive style incorporates what went before.
In other words you could say that some gardens blend characteristics of more than one style and others have overlays of different styles constructed at a later time, thus demonstrating a continuum of history.
To fully understand what is really going on in the type of garden you might encounter around a historic house this weekend we have to consider briefly the influence of a number of the garden styles documented by Juliet Ramsay  and how they can be observed as specific layers occurring in many of the nine gardens on show this weekend.
Possibly, as a result of this process, we are transformed into garden detectives – looking for the evidence of change which reveals the stories of the houses and their occupants.
The earliest strong influence for which we might find some evidence in the historic house garden is called the Arcadian in which early settlers began to look at the English landscape style to direct their garden designs. They did this because they were homesick for Britain and because they did not understand Australia’s plants and trees, seasons and climate.
Countryside elements were the theme – and included trees, shrubberies, lawns and gravel paths flowing by means of the ha-ha wall (the wall or fence constructed in a ditch so that it was hidden from view creating an illusion of unbroken, open and continuous landscape with no apparent boundary between end of garden and beginning of fields beyond) into the broader landscape, creating a sense of pastoral and parkland harmony. Trees were predominantly deciduous broadleaf species which provided the green summer landscape and the contrasting delicate tracery in a winter landscape with only a minimal use of coniferous species – commonly Stone Pines and Larches. In the Australian adaptation of this style there was a lack of the scale and wealth of its English antecedents which were the realm of the great country mansions and castles, and it had to cope with interpretation on a landscape vegetated by plants regarded as foreign, or inexplicably grim, or even just awful.
Take for example the description of the Australian River Oak or Casurina by the mid-nineteenth-century diarist Rachel Henning. She wrote this when she was in Bathurst:
“I sometimes go up a little hill that is near this house and the view from the top is not exactly beautiful, but very curious, being so utterly un-English. There are these undulating hills, stretching round you for miles, without a tree or shrub upon them, in a hollow below you lies the red town, scattering itself over a large space of ground. The Macquarie River winds along near it, and you can trace its course through the treeless landscape by the fringe of swamp-oaks that grow here and there on its margin. There being no water in it except a pool here and there; you would no know there was a river save for these dismal trees. They are the most melancholy of vegetable productions. Cyprusses are gay to them. They are quite black at a little distance, and only grow in muddy, slimy places. The background of the whole scene is the best part of it as it consists (on two sides) of the beautiful “Blue Mountains”. They are clothed with bush to their very summits and make a beautiful contrast to the weary plains.”
These Arcadian gardens were developed to create a setting for the homes of wealthy settlers which, in our region from the 1820s onwards, were largely in the Georgian or Regency styles. Many of the following observations about this and other styles are drawn from the previously noted work of Juliet Ramsay.
The Arcadian gardens were sited generally on a hill overlooking the property and approach to the house was by a gently curving carriage drive with avenue planting which allowed an occasional glimpse of the house and occasionally glimpses of approaching visitors to the homestead.
In inland New South Wales Elms were commonly used in these gardens with Stone and Monterey Pines for avenues and windbreak planting. White Cedars and others were planted as specimen trees. Shrubs were mostly hardy and selected for their evergreen properties rather than for floral display. Flower gardens as picking gardens, as well as vegetable gardens, were often located in hedged or walled areas to the side or rear of the residence.
As Arcadian gardens are now a great age, their character has changed. Mature trees of the avenue and garden perimeters now block vistas and give the gardens an introspective aspect. Overlays of flowerbeds from a later period sometimes diminish the strength of the former garden design which had large spaces outlined by trees.
A great revolution in gardens took place in the Victorian era in the 1840s and it was driven by rapid progress in the understanding and study of botany, horticulture, floristry, floriculture and landscape design. The understanding of plants leapt from medieval mythical concepts to theoretical science. Botanists and plant explorers travelled the world seeking new plants and identifying them.
A new style emerged and it was called the Gardenesque.  It was largely the result of the prolific writings of John and Jane Loudon who wrote about gardens, landscape and agriculture. Features of the style were the use of distinctive plants as the ornamental features of a garden, individual trees and shrubs planted in an arrangement to display their individual form.
Pleasure grounds were developed which consisted of lawns, shrubberies, flower borders and Dutch-style geometric flower beds. Garden beds often reflected form of the house and beds and lawns became more geometrically shaped with neat and tight curving paths. Many gardens were given special features or novel points of interest like grottos, rustic ornaments and ferneries.
In England many private gardens were opened to the public which allowed the sharing of ideas and the sharing of plants.
Australian nurseries had to meet the demand for new fashion plants and dramatically increased their stock of woody ferns, palms, grasses and cycads.
By the 1850s there was a movement emerging to make these gardens more formal. It led to the emergence of the High Victorian garden style which revived the classical features found in Tudor gardens in England several hundred years earlier. To be High Victorian a garden had to clearly show terracing, elaborate buildings, statuary, axial paths, summer houses and monuments.
Private Australian gardens, institutional gardens and public parks adopted elements of this style.
By the time the railway arrived in Bathurst in 1876 a great economic boom was well underway and the new wealth generated a sense of optimism and confidence and national pride. In the gardens of the historic houses this Boom is reflected in the additions of brash ornamentation. Cast iron lace work began to appear on buildings as exterior decoration. Urns, vases and statues enhanced the gardens and many more gardens were being created around the increasing number of houses and outlying mansions.
The lawn mower came into popular use for the first time allowing many people to have croquet lawns and with the expansion of lawns, flower beds diminished.
Mansions often showed characteristics of the Boom style in their gardens. Key features included the use of elaborate cast iron gates, a sweeping gravelled carriageway which terminated at the front entrance, flights of steps flanked by urns leading to well defined terraces. Rose gardens and rookeries were important features.
All of these styles – the Arcadian, the Gardenesque, the High Victorian and the Boom style are overlaid to some degree in most of the historic house gardens we see in the Bathurst district and it is our ability to recognise features of these styles which allows us to get a reel feel for what went on in the creation and evolution of the gardens. The gardens seen in this way, become a living link to the people who lived in the houses in the past.
All these garden styles of the past leave us with an important message for the future. A hundred and fifty years ago when the Gardenesque styles of garden were being laid out and planted there was a clear understanding of the limited availability of water. It was universally understood that water was precious and had to be managed carefully. There was also a great emphasis on the growing of plants which were edible and the ideal garden contributed to the self-sufficiency of the household. There was also a strong emphasis on recycling of anything useful in the gardening methods of the mid-Victorian period.
In the twenty-first century societies like ours will have to do much more to reinstate these types of values and it’s great to know that gardeners such as those assembled here this morning are leading the way.
Thank you for the opportunity of speaking this morning. My family and I look forward to being part of the open gardens for Bathurst’s Spring Spectacular on Saturday and Sunday.
Adams, David, ed., “The Letters of Rachel Henning“, Penguin edition, 1969 and 1979
Ramsay, Juliet, “How to Record the National Estate Values of Gardens“, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1991
Ramsay, Juliet, “Parks, Gardens and Special Trees – A Classification and Assessment Method for the Register of the National Estate“, Australian Heritage Commission Technical Publications Series Number 2, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1991
Aitken, Richard and Looker, Michael, eds., “The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens“, Oxford University Press, 2002
Watts, Peter, “Foreword” to “The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens“, Oxford University Press, 2002
 The Essay by Peter Watts is the Foreword to the superb (but expensive) book “The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens” edited by Richard Aitken and Michael Looker, published in association with the Australian Garden History Society, Oxford University Press, 2002.
 Juliet Ramsay authored “How to Record the National Estate – Values of Gardens” and “Parks, Gardens and Special Trees – A Classification and Assessment Method for the Register of the National Estate“, Technical Publications Series No 2, Australian Heritage Commission, Australian Government Publishing Service, April 1991.
 Rachel Henning in a letter on 14th May 1856 to her sister Henrietta (‘Etta’) who was in England. Rachel’s entertaining letters were published in “The Letters of Rachel Henning” edited by David Adams, Penguin edition, 1969 (1979 reprint) pp 41 – 42
 John Loudon’s very influential published works included: “Encyclopaedia of Gardening” (1822); “Gardeners Magazine” (1st Vol. 1826, to 1844); “Encyclopaedia of Agriculture” (1825); “Suburban Garden and Villa Companion” (1838); “Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture and Furniture” (1833); “Aboretum et Fruiticeum Britannicum” (1838): His wife Jane Loudon also wrote and published prolifically including among others: “Ladies Flower-Garden” magazine (1838); “Gardening for Ladies” (1840); etc.