Three adjacent Hunter Valley gardens combine to create a productive and beautiful family sanctuary.

Story By Kim Woods Rabbidge

With no discernible demarcation between their three properties in the Hunter Valley, NSW, the Redman and Coren families appear to have created one very big beautiful garden. Set in Woodville, one of the state’s earliest settlements, food production is an essential element of the gardens, with fruit trees and a vegetable patch growing alongside ornamental plantings.
In fact, Philip Redman says the orchards and veggie patch are his favourite areas in the magnificent Albion Farm garden. His wife Sandy, however, loves their property’s whimsical Secret Garden. “It’s my sanctuary and a garden of memories,” Sandy says. “It’s a sheltered and peaceful place. The grandchildren like to play here as well as over in their own tree house.”
The Redmans’ garden began about 40 years ago but it’s only in the past 16 years, since Phil retired from his veterinary practice in Scone, NSW, and Sandy’s family commitments eased, that they’ve been able to devote so much time to gardening.
“We’re lucky that two of our five adult children have acquired adjacent land,” Phil says. Their son Ben has Albion Way, which lies on the southern side of Albion Farm. Ben, his wife Shoshan and their children live in China where they have a business, but they stay in the property’s 1860s timber cottage when visiting Australia. Their garden is still being developed but the trees are already forming arboreta.
To the north is Gracemere, owned by daughter Kate Coren, her husband Ged and their five daughters aged five to 13. Their contemporary home is accessed by travelling across an elegant three-arched stone bridge that spans a beautiful lake where Ged, a surgeon, can often be found casting a line before or after work. At the far side of the lake an enchanting stone boathouse serves as a pump house and is a much-admired feature.
Kate spends a few days a week in the gardens. She has an eye for design and a good knowledge of plant care and construction techniques. Now that she’s helping her dad on building projects such as creating stone walls, Sandy can concentrate on pruning and planting out the myriad annuals and perennials she propagates.

This Story is from Issue #87

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2013