Farmer Ferdie Foster finds peace in the historic and beautiful garden on his sheep and cattle property in Tasmania's Midlands.

Story + Photos Cormac Hanrahan

Settled in 1823 by the Leake family, Rosedale is a sheep and cattle station run by fifth-generation farmer Ferdie Foster, and at its heart is a beautiful garden. The garden is at its most formal surrounding the homestead, where Manchurian pears leave a cover of snow-white petals on the closely clipped grass of the courtyard in spring, and the many hedges, shrubs and pines have been carefully shaped into sculptural geometric forms. 

White heath, red knight, lavender and a wisteria walk add layers and colour to this well-arranged composition, harmonising with stone walls, high windows and a circular fountain. “I can’t draw or sing, but I enjoy buildings and culture, and I read a lot and have a strong visual sense, so the garden is a creative outlet,” Ferdie says.

An arbour formalises entry to the rose garden that runs beside the tennis court, at the end of which the ground drops away steeply. “This is where things take a bit of a turn,” says Ferdie, with a smile, for it is here that the regimented English-style garden turns to rambling parkland.  

From the edge of the slope, a wide lawn invites one to wander into the landscape, drawing the onlooker inevitably to a picturesque lake. Lily pads float on the surface while willows, poplars, golden ash, cedars and silver birch provide shade and shelter around the shore. On the lake’s edge, two park benches on either side of a pink blossom tree complete a very pleasing scene.  

“The best way to describe my garden is that when everything else is sheer hell, I wander down there and find peace,” Ferdie says. “During the 2007 drought, it was the only place left that was green.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #117

Outback Magazine: February/March 2018