All the garden beds are full with masses of different plants, many of which self seed, tumbling over the rock edges and giving a wonderful effect. Lots of the plants have been chosen for their autumn colour and a smoke bush (cotinus) is doing well even though it gets touched by frost each year. There is a brilliant balance of sunlight and shade, and with filtered light the shade loving plants thrive, and long shadows are cast over the centre lawn as the sun dips.
Owners Ann and John (Beggs) were living in Ireland when they heard that John’s father was willing to sell his property. They hurried back, bought it in 2001, and set about building their own piece of paradise. Ann had visited many gardens in the United Kingdom, and had always yearned for a garden with running water as a feature. Sometimes the water rushes through rather more energetically than usual—when there is heavy rain the top lake can overflow into the ponds below and the water roars through the garden, soaking the gunnera—which loves it—and immersing other plants which pop back happily when the torrent subsides to its normal benign flow.
This garden is both exciting and challenging. Challenging because severe frosts can last until mid-afternoon and by contrast in summer the little valley can become extremely hot because of the natural windbreak of the huge surrounding trees. In the past the wildlife helped themselves far too often to the fresh and tempting plants but as the garden matures and with a judicious choice of plants, a balance is being brought about.
It is an exciting place because of the sheer pleasure of seeing the success which has been achieved, and simply by being so close to the huge open sky and the constant movement and sound of the water. Mara Ponds, so named because of the old local Golden Mara gold mine and the garden’s deep connection with water, is a beautiful and unexpected oasis in the middle of prime agricultural country and is a garden which has been developed with a huge amount of hard work, a vision, and a lot of love.
From the book, Gorgeous Gardens of Tasmania . . . an island odyssey by Liz Francis, Forty South Publishing Pty Ltd, Hobart, Tasmania, 2013. To order a copy, contact lizfrancis61(at)gmail.com. Back to the photo gallery