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Historic Merryville homestead gardens to open for Yass Red Cross fundraiser

Sally Hopman18 April 2022
Country house

Historic Merryville homestead will host an open garden on Sunday 1 May to raise money for the Yass Red Cross. Photo: Supplied.

Merryville homestead, one of the finest historic properties in the Yass Valley, will open its gardens on Sunday 1 May to raise money for the Red Cross.

Built in 1903 the homestead and farm were made famous by Sir Walter Merriman who was knighted in 1954 for his contribution to the nation’s wool industry.

Today, Rob and Ning Clark and their son George are custodians of the stunning bluestone homestead and 200-ha farm, which they run as a sheep property and bed and breakfast located between Yass and Murrumbateman.

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Acquired by the Clark family in the 1970s, Mrs Clark said she moved to Merryville in 2007 after meeting her husband in her native Philippines.

“When I came here I thought it was the most beautiful place,” she said. “But I didn’t know what was involved in living on a farm,” she said.

“In the Philippines you see movies about beautiful country houses, but it’s different when you come here. The first winter was a bit hard.

“But I love it here. There are four real seasons here. Where I came from there is only rainy and sunny.”

Mrs Clark said early on she enrolled in a horticulture course to learn more about Australian gardens. Since then, she and her husband have done all the work restoring the gardens and planting new areas.

Three people outside homestead

Ning (centre) and Rob Clark (right) with their son George (left) outside Merryville homestead at Yass. Photo: Supplied.

In the early days of Walter Merriman, a large orchard had been planted in front of the homestead. By the 1970s when the Clarks took over the orchard was on its way out, so a new bluestone cobbled driveway was installed. The circa 1888 gates came from Sydney’s Centennial Park.

Mrs Clark said they planted bush roses at the front of the house when she arrived, but these were transplanted to the northeast side in 2013 for a better display. They’ve since also planted seaside daisies and buxus box hedges.

In 2017, they planted a new row of pines along the driveway. “But for fast-growing prettiness, we’ve planted different collections of canna lilies, white belladonnas, hot pokers, gladioli, watsonias, dahlias, irises, rows of ornamental crab apples, peaches and, more recently, a row of white crepe myrtles,” Mrs Clark explained.

She said there was always activity in the garden. She and her husband did most of the work themselves until recently, but they’ve since taken on some help.

One of the more recent big jobs was to remove a row of lambertiana pines from the back of the house to open up the large lawn area.

“In 2018, we built my dream bluestone raised garden beds with a water fountain and fishpond I designed and helped the stonemason build from scratch,” she said.

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Mrs Clark said visitors to the garden on 1 May would see a work in progress. Although the property was built back in 1903, she said it was ever-changing.

“There is always work to do in the garden,” she said.

“The garden is still developing and it looks like we will continue to extend it as we have more plans in the future to become a garden destination and a wedding venue.

“We currently offer B&B accommodation in the homestead for guests to enjoy the history of the place and we try to keep everything in its original form if we can.”

Mrs Clark said she was looking forward to showing guests around during the open garden event.


The stunning gardens at Merryville will be open to the public on 1 May to raise funds for the Red Cross. Photo: Supplied.

Australian Red Cross Yass branch secretary Karen Williams said the group was delighted that the Clarks had offered to open the gardens for their fundraising event.

“Ning is one of our Yass members and we are very grateful that we can hold the open garden there this year,” she said.

“Most of our members are garden enthusiasts, so it is wonderful to be able to do this after a few years of hibernation because of COVID.”

Mrs Williams said stalls would also be on-site at Merryville during the open garden, selling local produce and refreshments, including the traditional Red Cross canteen.

There will also be a special raffle during the day, with first prize a piece of glasswork by internationally acclaimed artist Peter Crisp who has a gallery at nearby Bowning.

Proceeds from the open garden will go to the Australian Red Cross’ NSW and Queensland Flood Appeal. Entry is $10 for adults and under-16s are free.

Merryville homestead will be open from 10 am to 3 pm on Sunday 1 May at 1143 Dog Trap Road, Yass.

What's Your Opinion?

One Response to Historic Merryville homestead gardens to open for Yass Red Cross fundraiser

Sanchia Glaskin Sanchia Glaskin 4:48 pm 20 Apr 22

Thia is indeed a beautiful garden in a wonderful location and Ning and Rob are the perfect hosts.