The dramatic change in seasons is just one of the things that makes “Willawa” at Moonbah, NSW, such a special place.

Story By Trisha Dixon

There is a great sense of drama driving into “Willawa”, 10 clicks out of Jindabyne. It has the resplendent backdrop of the NSW Snowy Mountains and sculptural snow gums stand artistically in the paddocks.
Jan and Arthur Owens fell for these sweeping vistas, the boulders and proximity to mountains when they bought the property in 1998. And Jan is a true gardener – artistic, intuitive, intelligent and generous of spirit. There is great exuberance, incredible pizzazz with colour combinations and bold plantings, thoughtful and evocative sculptures, and a great sense of place.
“I love the peace and tranquility of being in our beautiful garden setting overlooking the Moonbah Valley and observing the subtle changes that emerge with each season,” she says. “My intention has been to explore the effect that colour, texture and perfume have on the senses. My aim is to create a calm ambience that is interesting, yet intriguing to admire, ponder and a desire to return. I hope to create a place where one feels enveloped by the garden, yet where one can also consider the artistic aspect … it must be productive, sustainable and, above all, enjoyable.”
Far from being deterred by the -10 degrees Celsius winter temperatures, gale-force winds and heavy snowfalls, Jan is inspired by the climate. Having grown up in a large country garden on the Upper Murray with knowledgeable gardening parents and grandparents, she is well versed in plant hardiness. A family ritual of a stroll around the garden gave Jan knowledge, confidence and a sense of gardens as a place of nurturing and inspiration.
No poisonous herbicides or pesticides are used and soil is nurtured with cow manure, compost, sugar cane or lucerne hay mulch. Ash from open fires is spread on appropriate plants and liquid manure is used as fertiliser. Jan makes compost in three progressive compost bays, using green and dry garden waste, and waits for a year before using it. New garden beds are made by layering saturated newspaper, then topping it with compost, mulch and manure, and allowing it to mature before planting.

This story excerpt is from Issue #75

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2011