Today, Cruden Farm Open Day, home of the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.
In 1928 journalist and newspaper executive Keith Murdoch gave his 19-year-old bride, Elisabeth Greene, a small farm as a wedding present. Elisabeth loved the property at first sight, but Murdoch, a perfectionist, soon engaged leading design professionals to revitalise the modest weatherboard cottage and old-fashioned garden into a weekend retreat that was suitable for his family and for entertaining.
In 1930, Sir Keith appointed Edna Walling to devise plans for new gardens; including a Walled Garden. In 1944, a potentially devastating bush fire tore through Cruden Farm almost engulfing the house and destroying hundreds of plants and trees in its path. Miraculously the fire stopped just short of the house but not before it had killed many of the wondrous lemon scented gum trees, planted by Sir Keith and Dame Elisabeth as per Wallings’ plans, that created the iconic driveway from the main entry up to the house.
Percy Meldrum designed the stables, which were built during the Depression by local men, who had no other work at the time. Sir Keith had over-extended the budget but went ahead with the construction of the Stables in order to provide the men with much needed incomes.
Beyond the formal gardens, lies the ‘outer garden’ and the stunning lake that Dame Elisabeth created in 1987. Behind the lake are numerous Oaks, some of which were planted by Dame Elisabeth’s daughters and grand-daughters in the late 1980’s. Many of which were planted on each of her birthday's.
Michael Morrison, head gardener took us on the tour and explained the beautiful gardens. He has been in the job for 48 years, jokingly told us that he was the 2nd in charge, first in charge was Dame Elisabeth who he fondly referred to as "the boss".
There were 3 ginkgo trees, this one was planted in honour of the grand-daughter's 21st birthday, she is now in her 50's.
Even a stately home has it's compost heap.
The cottage garden by the swimming pool. For several months of the year, Dame Elisabeth would be up at 6am every morning for her swim.
Upon instructions from "the boss" these areas were not to be mowed as they are planted with bulbs. When they die down then the task will be done.