Whatever the time of year, Blackwood’s Garden of St Erth is always as pretty as a picture.
The historic garden, a property of The Diggers Club, is an example of how a garden can flourish in a difficult climate and how damaged earth can be renewed.
Decades of gardening experience is open for harvest as The Diggers Club celebrates its 40th anniversary with an Apple Festival at the Garden of St Erth on April 7 and 8.
St Erth is not just a riot of colour and shades of green, it is also home to vegetable beds, a food forest, historic orchards and with apple season in full swing the organisers decided it was the best way to mark the milestone.
More than 3000 varieties of plants can be found in the gardens, which are built on what was the original site of the township of Blackwood which boomed to a population of about 13,000 during the goldrush.
But once the gold ran out, the miners disappeared leaving contaminated mining tailings and poor soil quality.
“It’s been quite a challenge to rehabilitate, but using organic principles, compost and returning goodness to the soil it can be done,” said Diggers Club education officer Talei Kenyon.
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“The beautiful colours and form shows what can be achieved in an often difficult climate where it gets very cold, we get snow, and frost.”
The Diggers Club, which was formed in 1978, bought the Garden of St Erth in 1996 from its previous owners Tommy and Penny Garnet who wanted to ensure their garden would continue forever.
The club was established as a garden supply mail order business to supply unusual plants to passionate gardeners, which grew a life of its own to now have 75,000 members across Australia and three gardens.
A particular focus is on heirloom varieties of vegetables and fruits, the seeds of which are sold to members and the produce that is grown in the garden is used in the cafe.
“Heirloom vegetables have the perfect flavour and yield for backyard gardens,” Ms Kenyon said.
Visitors to the St Erth Apple Festival can take advantage of the knowledge of the gardeners with mini workshops every half hour, children’s activities, garden tours, apple tasting and the cafe menu will reflect the apple theme.