• Tatiana Collier

The Secret Garden

Not far beyond Creswick lies the hamlet of Kingston – a small farming community that boasts some of the richest and most fertile soil in Victoria. Nestled amongst the fields of crops and rolling hills lies Hedgerow; an idyllic, English-style country garden complete with a weatherboard cottage and historic brick barn. Simply put, it is a setting from a story book.

The drive into Kingston sets the scene for Hedgerow, as the property is situated on the town’s majestic Avenue of Honour. As you turn off the main road and pass through the iron gates, you feel instantly transported.

The property is currently owned by Suzanne Batch, who in 2015, purchased Hedgerow to fulfil her childhood dream.

“It was always my wish since I was a little girl to own a weatherboard home in the country, to remind me of my happy childhood,” says Suzanne. “I grew up on the land, spending my time outdoors, exploring and discovering. Now, to be able to live here and contribute to this is a dream.”

Suzanne lives at Hedgerow with Vance Dickie, who shares her love and passion for the garden and property. For Vance, living and working at Hedgerow enables him to continuing his mother’s legacy.

“Mum was always in the garden,” says Vance. “I knew every day when I came home from school, I would find her outside tending to the roses or picking fresh vegetables. My love of gardening came from her.”

Hedgerow’s garden was well established by the previous owners, with mature trees and hedges forming the framework. Vance and Suzanne have expanded on the garden to add year-round colour and interest to the property. Additions such as a dedicated rose garden, orchard walk, silver birch garden and productive vegetable patch are among their contribution.

“A garden is for everyone, and I like to think of myself as a custodian to Hedgerow.” says Vance.

“Everything is carefully planned. We make sure we choose plants that suit the garden and the climate because we want our additions to the garden to last for years to come.”

Vance and Suzanne have included several personal mementos since moving in. A collection of Alister Clark roses, first planted in the 1950’s, have been transplanted from Vance’s mother’s garden and continue to flower and thrive at Hedgerow.

There is also a wheelbarrow and gardening fork that belonged the Vance’s mother, and a pig statuette that was a gift to Suzanne as a reminder of the pet she had as a child.

These and other unique features scattered throughout the garden make for the perfect treasure hunt when children come to visit, and Suzanne proudly boasts that no one leaves Hedgerow empty-handed.

“The greatest joy in owning this garden is being able to share it. We have a steady supply of eggs from the Hedgerow Happy Hens and an abundant supply of flowers, fruit, jams, vegetables, and herbs.

“Flowers are specifically planted for picking and for cut flowers for bouquets to give to friends because we love being able to give our visitors a small piece of Hedgerow.”

Completing the story book image are Hedgerow’s two main buildings.

Central to the garden is the property’s primary dwelling – a beautifully maintained and charming weatherboard cottage that Suzanne and Vance have decorated with family photos, antique furniture, and freshly cut flowers.

At the rear of the property is an historic brick barn. Once used as the property’s dairy, the building has been meticulously restored and repurposed.

“We once had visitors come to Hedgerow who worked in the dairy, and they shared their memories of the barn with us. That was so very special. We knew we couldn’t let the building fall into ruin.

“It required input from a structural engineer, and we had to find the right tradespeople to work with us to restore it; people who are passionate about old buildings and understood the importance of maintaining its historic integrity.”

Now completed, the barn makes the perfect two-storey guest quarters, with a bedroom upstairs and kitchenette and living space downstairs. It also boasts some of the best views from the property, looking out across fields to the Great Dividing Range.

While a gardener’s work is never done, Suzanne has put some of her creative flare into creating and producing a range of items inspired by Hedgerow. The bath soaks are designed to mirror the fragrances that can be experienced while exploring Hedgerow, and these are accompanied by hand-crafted wash cloths.

“It’s another way for us to share Hedgerow with people and allow them to experience a little of what we’re lucky enough to have every day,” says Suzanne.

Hedgerow is located in Kingston, about nine kilometres from Creswick, just off the Midland Highway. It is available to view by appointment and Vance and Suzanne welcome anyone wishing to use the property for special occasion photography.

“People have used our grounds for wedding photos, anniversary and birthday photos and other milestone occasions and we love that – we love that Hedgerow can be a part of their special day.”

Open gardens are organised through the Creswick Garden Lovers group or contact Suzanne and Vance via the website to arrange an appointment.

Hedgerow Kingston products, such as the bath soaks, are available online or through a selection of stockists around Australia. Visit the website for more information or follow Hedgerow Kingston on Instagram for all the latest news.

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