November 15th, 2011, I took a drive down the Mornington Peninsular to visit Heronswood Gardens.
I woke to a glorious morning, making for a good start to the day. And, with camera packed I headed off for the 90 minute drive down to Dromana, home to Heronswood and the HQ of the Diggers Club.
The journey was easy enough, even with a diversion through a long and narrow dirt track road!
The setting of the house and gardens is idyllic, sitting on an elevated spot looking over Port Phillip Bay. Even from the car park it was hard not to be impressed!
I arrived a little after 11.30am and decided to start my visit with a stop at the café. A tasty cappuccino to fire up the engine, followed by a delicious lunch. I decided to do the Entree + Dessert rather than fill up on a larger savoury main course. The produce used in the kitchen is grown in the gardens and was so fresh and flavoursome. I had Asparagus with a squashed boiled egg, dressed with truffle oil and parmesan, followed by a vanilla bean panna cotta with Rhuburb cooked in rose water, it was all heavenly.
Having satisfied the taste buds it was time to give my other senses a work out, so it was off to tour the beautiful landscaped gardens. It was a great opportunity to see some native plants, but not surprisingly for a heritage site, there was a strong English Country Garden influence.
The house itself was designed by Edward Latrobe Bateman for William Hearn in 1866. Its architectural style has been called Gothic Revival. Built from granite blocks quarried from Arthur’s Seat. Limestone from the southern end of the peninsula dresses the windows, doors and corners. It has medieval-inspired elements such as the bell-cast roofs covered in Welsh slate, pointed lancet windows and buttressing on the front porch. The interior boosts high-pitched ceilings, creating a sense of grandeur. The house whilst full of architectural detail remains a warm and welcoming family home.
Heronswood is home to the Diggers Club, a producer of heritage seeds, and they have a well stocked plant nursery as well as the cutest shop ever. A really cosy and welcoming building with rooms brimming with products to delight the gardener.
It was good to be able to see the products they sell growing in the gardens, sometimes it is hard to be inspired by a packet of seeds, but when you see the plants in their full glory, the imagination is fired!
Whilst Heronswood is not a big garden, it is large enough to spend a couple of hours enjoying the plants and the scenery. Plus, the café is worth a visit in its own right and you do not need to pay the $10 entry fee to access the café area.
As a member of the Diggers Club entry is free and with workshops run throughout the year, I will be going back for sure!