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Stunning NSW South Coast gardens

By Ros Walcott, Canberra, images Ben Walcott

A group of native plant enthusiasts from Canberra visited a number of stunning NSW South Coast gardens. Here is a rundown of the itinerary and the gardens visited.

Starting at Guerilla Bay

Members of the Canberra Garden Design Study Group and the Australian Native Plants Society Canberra group met together in Batemans Bay, Burrewarra Point Reserve walk at Guerilla Bay. Tom Jordan provided a brief history of the area which was a dairy farm as late as the 1950’s, extensively grazed before becoming a reserve.

We spent a pleasant couple of hours walking through the mature Banksia forest and enjoying the coastal views. We spotted quite a few flowering plants including Kennedia rubicunda, Acacia sp, large flowered Scaevola, Glycine and prolific flowering Clematis aristata winding to the top of trees.

stunning NSW south coast gardens
Banksia forest, image Ben Walcott

Stunning NSW South Coast garden at Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens

Perfect weather for a visit the next day to the Eurobadalla Regional Botanic Gardens. Dylan Morrissey greeted us and outlined the recovery process after the recent bushfire which burnt through the entire area. We wandered the gardens amazed at the regrowth and tremendous effort of the staff and volunteers to have the garden areas looking so good.

Dylan took us behind the scenes to the propagation areas and into the Herbarium. He explained the design features of the building that enabled it to withstand the bushfire. We were very grateful to Dylan for the time he spent with us and would highly recommend a visit to the gardens.

Broulee Bangalay Sand Forest

It was a short drive to the Broulee Bangalay Sand Forest. It was a pleasant walk through the threatened ecological community. Again we found Kennedia rubicunda and large patches of Hardenbergia violacea scrambling over plants. Two different orchids were spotted.

Christina Kennedy’s Horse Island garden

Thursday morning, again under sunny skies, Christina Kennedy and Julian her head gardener greeted us at the gates to Horse Island. We started with an introductory talk about the history of the island and Christina’s vision for the gardens. We wandered through the superbly manicured garden beds around the ‘old’ and ‘new’ cottages. The gardens were started in 1991 and Christina decided to use only Australian native plants. There are both formal and informal aspects to the landscaping throughout the gardens.

Plants in the garden

Some of the plants clipped to provide a formal look include Melaleuca hypericifolia ‘Ulladulla Beacon’, Thryptomene saxicola, dwarf Baeckea virgata and Syzygium. Christina decided that Grevillea sp would be the foundation plant of choice for the gardens. She has used different selections for hedging, height and floral colour. We were lucky that many of the large Grevillea hybrids and standards were flowering. Grevillea ‘Royal Mantle’ standards, some up to 20 years old, are growing either side of steps. Others are used as feature plants throughout the gardens.

Garden design features

After morning tea on the veranda of the ‘new’ cottage, we were free to wander down the long expanse of manicured grass and the golf greens. On our way we passed the Pavillion with the tennis court and swimming pool areas. It is a real suntrap and there were some spectacular flowering grevilleas and an extremely long perfectly clipped Lilly Pilly hedge. The ‘Big House’ garden is expansive and more formal with repeat plantings. In the gravel driveway at the entrance to the house there is a central circular garden. Large Grass Trees Xanthorrhoea australis underplanted with various flowering kangaroo paws grow here.

There are many interesting features throughout the gardens, too many to mention. They include a stone rill linking circular ponds at either end and vine covered walkways and pergolas. There were lots of places to sit and admire the garden and strategically placed sculptures. The botanist Peter Olde suggested to Christina that she set up a garden area for rare and endangered plants, which she has. Many of these plants were collected by Peter.

We were all very grateful to Christina for being such a generous host. She provided morning tea and lunch and she wasvery generous with her time. She spent the morning with us as we walked around her truly inspirational garden.


We had a wonderful time visiting and learning about these stunning NSW South Coast native gardens.

For more showcase gardens, see our website.