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Secret Garden in Werribee Opening to the Public.

Cloverdale garden roses

Open Gardens Victoria will open Cloverdale to the public on the weekend of the 12th and 13th November, for only the second time since its establishment nearly 40 years ago on the outskirts of Werribee.

Cloverdale is a beautiful four-acre romantic-style garden, set on a working farm. When owners Connie and Julian Menegazzo first built their home on the property in the early 1980s, it was just empty paddocks with two majestic river red gums, estimated to be more than 400 years old.

Although one gum has since died, it still stands proud with its feet in Lollypop Creek—which runs through the property—serving as an important habitat tree and perching post for local ibis. The garden has grown and evolved over the years as time and inspiration have allowed.

Today, the garden hosts many varieties of roses, wisteria, sedums, frangipanis, and irises, all selected by Connie based on plants she loves and what survives. “The fence has moved four times further out into the paddocks, despite grumblings from my husband about losing his best cropping ground,” says Connie.

One of the garden’s most striking features is the long driveway lined with an avenue of 80 magnificent golden elms (Ulmus glabra ‘Lutescens’) that form an atmospheric leafy tunnel as you approach the house. Planted in 1984, the elms are underplanted with spring bulbs that provide a wonderful burst of colour.

“Getting the elms established in the early years was a struggle as there was no protection from the northerly winds,” says Connie. “Now they are very happy, especially since we extended the dam and no longer need to water them.”

In 2004, the dam was extended from behind the house to run alongside the driveway. In the same year over 4,000 native trees and grasses were planted, including callistemons, banksias, wattles, and grevilleas. Dubbed “the forest” by Connie, the former paddock now provides protection from northerly winds, making a huge difference to the garden.

A native forest walk has been created through this area, linking the garden with the driveway entrance, providing a lovely circuit trail around the property. The forest also provides a safe haven for the many native birds in the area.

Connie’s garden is filled with memories — plants given by friends and family, cuttings shared from other gardens, memories of special places and people are everywhere. Like the graceful weeping willows dotted along Lollypop Creek that started life as cuttings from a neighbour of Connie’s mother; the roses that conjure memories of a much loved grandfather; and the chickens in memory of Connie’s mother, who loved fresh eggs.

The orchard on the western side and a kitchen garden to the north-east, keep the owners in good supply of fruit and vegetables. A percentage of proceeds from the opening of Cloverdale will be donated to the Melbourne City Mission (MCM), with funds specifically allocated to youth homelessness in Wyndham Council.

Cloverdale is located on the lands of the Wadarurrung people. Open Gardens Victoria wish to acknowledge the Traditional custodians and we pay respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

 ADDRESS  Cloverdale 85 Browns Road Werribee VIC 3030

OPEN: Saturday 12 November & Sunday 13 November 10am – 4.30pm

TICKETS: Adults $10, Students $6, under 18 free Tickets at the gate or via TryBooking

EXTRAS: Morning and afternoon teas provided For more information about open gardens and events, visit: www.opengardensvictoria.org.au