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Darlington Garden
Bucolic Charm in the Perth Hills

The Shiell Private Garden

Bushland and Roses Amongst the Rocks

The setting for the house and garden cascades from the roadway into the valley overlooking Nyannia Creek. It is a beautiful natural environment where kangaroos are a feature in the early mornings and afternoons. The surrounds are enhanced by plantings of natives, which blend with the bush and granite outcrops, whilst the exotic romantic garden of one and a half acres nestles around the rammed earth house. The challenge has been to blend exotic planting with the bush environment.

The five acres that presently comprise 335 Victor Road was developed by Stuart and Nola Lee who built the rammed earth home in the 1980s and planted the bones of the garden we see today. Noelene Drage provided them with advice for the selection of Heritage Roses in the garden and we have worked to extend and complement the country style garden. The challenge has been to blend exotic planting with the bush environment.

The land was originally purchased by Alfred Robert Waylen, Colonial Surgeon and Josceline George Herbert Amherst on 24 March 1890, which then comprised 24 acres and ten perches. In 1903 the land was purchased by Elsie Eltze Barrymore (nee Victor). It was then sold to Reginald Dimond in 1927 and became known as "Glen Doone". It became a place of social gatherings with carloads of friends travelling up from Perth, where cabins could be hired to escape city life. In the 1950s Glen Doone was known as a caravan park, managed by the Wilde family.

Heritage roses, spring bulbs, and a wonderful overarching canopy of mature deciduous and native trees create the backdrop for ponds and pergolas covered with wisteria. Fruit trees in the orchard areas and the small garden sheds speak of the previous use of the property.

 

One of the first things we did was to develop some ponds to encourage the frog, lizard and bird populations. We have a range of lizards including the common bobtails, the Darlington Monitor that lives in the roof, and Gould's Monitor. Our bird population has increased in number and diversity as we have increased the planting of native species in the paddocks and the garden. 

 

We find that the areas near the old shed (a left over from Glen Doone days) provides sanctuary for the small birds, including the Splendid Fairy Wren and the Rufous and Yellow Whistler. The Black Carnaby and Red Tail Cockatoos love to feast on the Marri nuts making it dangerous to walk underneath the trees during their visits. The pathways within the garden lead to places where you can sit and contemplate the richness of our environment.

There are over 130 roses, including heritage roses, azaleas, camellias, and some magnolias. The garden includes several pools and a little fountain near the house to provide a perception of coolness as the temperatures climb. We have created a large pond that we call Lake Darlington. Water is so important in this environment and the ponds impart a feeling of tranquility.

The pathway up to the wisteria pergola the old pathway used by Glen Doone campers using the facilities in the small sheds. The wisteria pergola and the planted natives nearby have been developed to assist with the transition from the exotic plantings near the house to the surrounding bush.

Gardening has been a part of our lives for many years, and the gardens we have created in earlier days are reflected in this garden. The hills have a real pull, with the clay-based soils and the natural environment that has great richness and diversity of flora and fauna..

Denis and Val Shiell, October 2022