Three generations of the Adams family have lovingly tended this hardy garden on the New South Wales Liverpool Plains.
Story By Kim Woods Rabbidge
An entrance driveway lined by hardy belahs, with glaucous foliage whispering in the wind makes a gentle transition between the Liverpool Plains and “Lambrook”, the rural residence and park-like garden of William and Madeleine Adams.
Lambrook had once been part of “Bando”, an extensive holding at Mullaley, about 40 kilometres west of Gunnedah, NSW. However, it was sold off before 1925 when William’s grandparents bought Bando and where his mother, Marcelle Bishop, lived with her parents and brothers before marrying Bill Adams. Although they lived in Sydney, Marcelle and Bill were drawn to the country and they returned regularly with their young family for visits.
It probably wasn’t a surprise when, in 1948, the Adams acquired their own parcel of land, Lambrook, which included a manager’s cottage. As a young boy William and his sisters, Caroline and Susan, would join the holiday working bees. “Each day we’d drive [19 kilometres] over here from Bando and tidy things up and remove dead wood,” William remembers.
Some years later, in 1965, architect John Suttor was engaged to design a family home on the property. The site chosen: atop a basalt outcrop elevated 30 metres, with beautiful views to Mullaley Mountain, across the plains and ranges beyond, and where welcome zephyrs relieve summer’s intense heat. Only a handful of kurrajongs and yellow box eucalypts grew onsite; it was almost a bare canvas.
The knoll was levelled and tonnes of prismatic needles of basalt, pushed aside, were later used for some of the garden’s perimeter walls. The needles were formed an aeon ago, after volcanic activity, when lava cooled and shrank. “Being five- or six-sided, you can stack them like logs – they’re covered in beautiful weathered lichens and moss,” William says.
Backfilled terraces were soon home to myriad plants and a developing garden, although it had been difficult work: the rocky site meant holes had to be dug with crowbars. Marcelle Adams realised that a plant would have a better chance of survival if the hole was 10 times larger than it. No wonder William feels a deep affinity with the landscape, having helped build walls and dig holes under the guidance of Czech Emil Bado, the family’s much-appreciated gardener.
“Mrs Adams was very clever,” Madeleine says. “She planted several native olive hedges, which protected the house from strong southerlies in winter.” The hedges helped the garden develop its own cooler microclimate and provided bird habitat and protection for more sensitive plants.
This story excerpt is from Issue #76
Outback Magazine: April/May 2011