Preservation of the Garden of St Erth

Rich in history that spans more than 150 years, The Garden of St Erth’s beginnings date back to the arrival of Matthew Rogers, a Cornish stonemason who came to the central Victorian Goldfields around 1855 to seek his fortune. Rogers built the original sandstone cottage, naming it St Erth after his birthplace in Cornwall. The building became a general store and post office in a bustling town of over 13,000 people and the National Trust cottage now houses The Diggers Club garden shop, adjoining our retail nursery.

Successive owners have left their footprint on this beautiful garden including the McLennans who planted the original orchard in 1910 and the Bradleys who in the 1950s, established the daffodil paddock and planted hundreds of Emperor and Emperor daffodils. In 1967 the Garnett family bought St Erth and began to develop the garden beyond the original plantings. Tommy was a passionate plantsman and Principal of Geelong Grammar but most importantly for our purposes, as garden editor of The Age, he used the garden to acclimatise many rare, exotic plants and trees.

In 1996 the Diggers Club purchased the Garden of St Erth from Tommy and Penny Garnett, who felt assured that Clive, a former pupil of Tommy’s, would nurture the garden and ensure its survival. Now gifted by the Blazey family to The Diggers Foundation, additions have included the rose and berry gardens, the Garnett Education Centre and restoration of the Bush Garden in 2012 by landscape architect, Andrew Laidlaw.

St Erth is a working garden covering 3 hectares and contains over 3,000 varieties of plants. Under the direction of head gardener, Julian Blackhirst, the perennial border continues to be refined, offering visitors the opportunity to see how perennial borders are developed. Work also continues on garden displays featuring Diggers Club plants that are appropriate for the central Victorian climate, a food forest and the renewed orchard featuring espalier fruit trees - and an historic apple planted in 1911!

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