“I love to share my garden with other people and see them enjoy it,” says Pat Poynter, while pruning Sarah Van Fleet roses before a guest wedding. Margaret River’s is her labour of love; an estuary of blue-hued blooms to rival the river itself.
Pat cultivated the garden from scratch in 1997, enlisting the help of acclaimed landscape designer . With garden manager Stuart MacKay and his wife Lisa, the functions manager, Pat hosts around 25 weddings and propagates 200 plants in a year.
“It’s tucked into the valley and has a beautiful microclimate,” she says. “I thought being hidden down here would make the most wonderful location.”
Stretched across one hectare, the garden is orchestrated in a composition of formal rooms and more relaxed plantings that spill into peppermint forest. The garden is bound by Wilyabrup Brook, a freshwater stream to the north.
Within a city of crabapple avenues and wisteria-laden terraces, Pat raises her hydrangea family. “I want to increase my collection of unusual hydrangeas.”
The garden poses surprises even for its owner, who leaves on occasion to visit her children. “When I’ve been away, I can’t wait to get outside and wander around my beautiful garden to see what’s happening,” Pat says.
A bank of hydrangeas looms high against Pat’s house. “They are my stand-out plant — they are sensational all through summer.”
Swathes of mopheads, or Hydrangea macrophylla, curl into the serpent garden.
The driveway is flanked by a row of snow pear, while out front a bird bath is shaded under peppermint trees.
The central courtyard is framed by Wisteria sinensis. In the afternoon haze, it resembles colonnaded gardens of Grecian myth. Would a Botticelli nymph come waltzing through the alcoves?
Under the guidance of a local stonemason, a granite amphitheatre was added. A reflection pond and obelisks are hidden elsewhere in the garden.
“I’m disciplined with my colours and have to keep them perfectly in sync with each other so they don’t clash.”
Hydrangea macrophylla flourish under Pat’s experienced hand, as she continues to produce new varieties.
The rose arbour transects the long garden, and Pat used restraint in selecting the palette. “I didn’t want it to be too busy. It’s mostly in creams and lemons on one side, and creams and apricots on the other, underplanted with delphiniums and foxgloves.”
“Reine des Violettes” grow in the company of heritage roses.
With the MacKays, the Secret Garden has expanded to host twilight receptions and the Gourmet Escape Long Lunch. Artistry in food and florals is celebrated.
While meticulously grooming her Secret Garden, Pat says, “I’m already encouraging my grandchildren to get out and get their hands dirty. I hope this will continue into the next generation.”
As hydrangeas and violets rise in blue waves, Paddy the 14-year-old West Highland terrier goes swimming.