2 November 2023

Braidwood branches out with more open gardens - seed for yourself this weekend

| Sally Hopman
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Two women on verandah

Gianna Zuch, left, who has taken over the helm of the Braidwood Open Gardens event from the founder Samara Zeitsch, whose home Longsight will be open this weekend. Photo: Kathy Toirkens.

Gardening certainly looks to be a growth industry in Braidwood – just ask the youngsters and their families at the local preschool.

Braidwood’s Open Gardens, scheduled for this weekend (4 and 5 November), is the annual fundraiser for the preschool. Last year, it raised more than $14,000 which was used to help fund extensions to the preschool allowing it to accept 20 more youngsters.

“It is our major fundraiser for the year,” spokesperson Gianna Zuch said. “It goes towards the day-to-day running of the school but also helped with the extensions so we could increase our numbers from 30 to 50.”

Although last year was a huge success, with hundreds of people visiting the gardens over the weekend, Ms Zuch said she hoped for an even bigger crowd this weekend, with four new gardens open to visitors.

READ ALSO Country charm comes to life in Braidwood’s ‘big white house’

“All the locals come to our open gardens,” she said, “and we always get a lot of people coming out from Canberra.

“Last year’s event was long delayed because of the drought, bushfires and COVID, but this year we are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful gardens.”

Run by volunteers, this weekend’s event will feature six of Braidwood’s best gardens.

One of the highlights will be the opening of the 1850s homestead, Longsight, the garden of Samara Zeitsch and Patrick Bourgault. Ms Zeitsch organised the first Braidwood event in 2014.

Purchased by the couple in 2016, it was the original home of Sir Austin Chapman, the first Member for Eden-Monaro in the inaugural Commonwealth Parliament.

Country garden gate

The homestead Bedervale was built by convict ship captain John Coghill in 1822. It features almost three hectares of gardens. Photo: Kathy Toirkens.

When she moved in, Ms Zeitsch peeled back the layers of weeds, ivy, and elm suckers to uncover gems such as roses, flowering quince and granite outcrops. She also planted a western red cedar hedge on the eastern boundary and an avenue of capital pears along the driveway.

“A lot of what I’ve done is taken inspiration from what was there and then just repeated the elements I think worked,” she said.

A case in point is the iceberg roses on the home’s eastern side – the original four plants have been repeated and underplanted with Munstead lavender – and the garden room on the western side that was created by taming an original box honeysuckle hedge.

The six gardens open this weekend range from small cottage style to the larger homestead gardens, with some started from scratch while others have been brought back to life.


Mona Farm at Braidwood, one of the region’s most beautiful properties, was designed in the style of English gardener and landscape architect Capability Brown. Photo: Kathy Toirkens.

They include:

  • Mona Farm – originally known as Braidwood Farm, designed in the style of Capability Brown, it was established with Scotch firs, oaks and elms. Celebrated writer and environmentalist Jackie French will be there at 1 pm on Sunday.
  • Bedervale – 2.8 hectares of gardens at the colonial homestead built by convict ship captain John Coghill in 1822. Guided house tours will be available.
  • Oorong – rambling, English-style garden, including 150 rose bushes, buxus hedges and mass plantings of lavender and lamb’s ear.
  • Willow Tree – showcase circular garden around a magnolia tree, flaming maple and ornamental Zelcova and large vegetable garden in wicking beds.
  • 7 Wilson Street – the owners took their cue from renowned garden designer Edna Walling who pioneered the use of native plants to create sustainable gardens. They created a 25-metre-long curved arbour that sweeps in a wide arc – its destination designed to remain a mystery.
  • Longsight – don’t miss the secret pathway that links the property’s front and back gardens.

More information about Braidwood Open Gardens this weekend, 4 and 5 November, is available on the Braidwood Gardens website.

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