Catriona Bate and Phil Trickett’s Garden, Milton, NSW
Our property is located on the edge of the escarpment overlooking Lake Conjola and Milton at an elevation of 350m, just below the Little Forest Plateau area of the Morton National Park. We are about ten kilometres from the sea. While the national park and much of the surrounding bush is classic Sydney sandstone country, we are on the rich soils of former rainforest pockets once used for dairy farming and cedar cutting. The volcanic soil is derived from the Milton monzonite. Of our two hectares, the steep slopes near the creek running through the back of the property remain original rainforest while the relatively level areas nearer the house where we are creating gardens have extensive areas of lawn dominated by kikuyu grass introduced for cattle.
We chose this property because it seemed to be able to support native plants (demonstrated by the number of healthy Hakea salicifolia trees), had good rainfall (we were sick of the drought in Canberra), was large enough for our purposes but still manageable, and had an area suitable for creating a garden which did not require the destruction of existing bush. In addition it had a suitable existing house, and was no further away from family than Canberra had been.
In terms of climate, the Little Forest locality has around double Canberra’s rainfall (around 1,200mm a year), more moderate temperatures, and no frost. Winter temperatures may be as low as six degrees overnight in winter, but in summer can reach the forties although high twenties and early thirties with humidity are more typical. It differs from the coastal climate of nearby Ulladulla in being less influenced by easterly weather patterns although we do experience east coast lows which usually deliver large amounts of rain in a short period. A major influence is the strong westerly wind which comes in over the escarpment in the winter months. We have also noticed that our climate appears to be more moderate than other south coast towns such as Batemans Bay.
For more information on this garden see Garden Design Study Group Newsletter 89, February 2015, p. 21.