Elizabeth Paterson’s southern New South Wales garden is both enchanting and functional, even if it didn’t turn out the way she planned.

Story By Kellie Penfold

Elizabeth Paterson is a modest country gardener. She professes to having had no firm design in mind for her garden at “Kalawa”, near Gerogery in southern New South Wales. Although she had a reasonably good knowledge of plants, she didn’t have a great deal of time to spend gardening. Her garden, however, is a country classic, both functional in design and enchanting to those who chance upon it. Elizabeth was a young New Zealander, a jillaroo on her family’s property and a diploma graduate in interior design when she met Australian farmer Roger Paterson, who was in her homeland gaining farm experience. After a romance that saw numerous journeys between the two countries, she became a young bride at Kalawa, a farm that had been in Roger’s family since 1924 and was originally part of Table Top and Gerogery stations. Elizabeth and Roger moved into the original farmhouse and set about raising five children – Jacqui, Rachel, Sarah, Hamish and James. “When I arrived in Australia I needed to get a job,” Elizabeth says. “My mother was a great gardener and we had lived in a fairly isolated part of New Zealand, so I would spend many hours with her and that often meant being in the garden. I enjoyed working with flowers so I asked for a job at a florist in Albury, NSW, and that became my first job.” When Elizabeth and Roger decided they had outgrown their original home, they embarked on building a new one. That was 28 years ago. Elizabeth had many ideas for the home and garden she wanted to create. On the same site, they built a two-storey brick home designed to accommodate a busy farming family while providing a peaceful retreat. “Now when I look around the garden, it is not the garden I planned,” she says. “It quickly developed a mind of its own.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #62

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2009