Garden Tour of Beaumont House
Saturday 11th May 2019
An enthusiastic group of members, family and friends arrived at 2.00pm for a tour of the gardens and house at Beaumont House. The forecast showers did eventuate but given the dry nature that we had been experiencing over the last 5 months, most of us welcomed the rain. Fortunately, the rain held off during the garden tour and only became an issue when we went inside for the house tour.
Our group first toured the garden with renowned horticulturist Merilyn Kuchel. Then we enjoyed a delicious afternoon tea on the veranda before touring the house.
A brief history:
In 1838, Edward Burton Gleeson arrived from India and established a prefabricated house on the original site and named the property Gleeville Farm. Here he lived with his wife and two children and grew crops. In 1842, the bank he owned in India failed and he was declared bankrupt. His property was sold and the land reverted to the South Australia Company from which he had bought it. The property then had a succession of owners. In 1846 Samuel Davenport bought Gleeville Farm and renamed it Beaumont. Additions to the house during the following years saw the house change from a wooden house to a stone one and further brick extensions with a colonnade and imposing steps. In 1970, the property passed to the National Trust of South Australia.
The house is furnished with Victorian and Edwardian furnishings from donations to the trust. A few items belonging to the previous owners are displayed but much on display comes from elsewhere.
The garden tour:
This was a highlight of our visit to Beaumont House. The gardens have been beautifully restored and replanted and were in exceptional condition given that we have had little rain. They do use some mains water, but fortunately have access to bore water. A dedicated band of 15 volunteers tend to the garden each Wednesday. The garden had been redesigned by Merilyn Kuchel several years ago. She has sympathetically combined restoration in some parts with new plantings incorporating plants that were grown previously or have some relationship with previous owners. On the property were several trees that date back to pre-European settlement.
There are several native cypress pines (Callitris gracilis) bordering the property. A grey box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) is used by koalas as a resting place. It is in poor condition and may actually die. If so they intend to leave the remains. Several significant trees dating from planting between 1850-1900 remain. A Mexican fan palm (Washingtonia robusta) stands between the house and the front fence and was probably planted by Davenport. Other trees planted by him include a pair of almond trees (Prunus dulcis), one of the largest pear trees in South Australia (Pyrus communis), Stone pine (Pinus pinea) from which we obtain pine nuts, European fan palm (Chaemerops humilis), Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) and Italian cypress or Pencil pine (Cupressus sempervirens). Before 1890, a Wigandia caracasana was planted. This plant is found in the jungles of Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela. It has spread 3.5m and grows up to 4.5m. The leaves are deep green and rough-textured with hairy white undersides that can be irritating to touch. Violet to purple flowers in long clusters form later during spring and summer.
An olive grove bordering the property has survived for over 160 years. It has been undergoing a rejuvenation. Several of the old olives have been coppiced. This has led to new growth and increased olive production. However, the olives sucker and the volunteers are removing these so that growth is redirected into the upright new growth. They harvest the olives and produce olive oil which is sold as a fundraiser for the National Trust. Throughout the gardens are plantings of new release and heritage roses.
Along the main footpath coming from Glynburn Road to the house is a planting of “City of Adelaide” roses. Around the Beaumont House sign, Iceberg roses are planted. Clinging up a trellis on the stable block is the climbing tea rose “Lady Hillington”, first introduced into cultivation in 1877. Alongside the western side of the house is a planting of “Peace” roses. And in the Perfume Bed are Damask and Cabbage roses. In the Purple Bed are hellebores, iris, society garlic, cranesbills, delphiniums, plectranthus and ageratum.
There is a good collection of salvias in this bed including Salvia leucantha, S. ‘Anthony Parker’, S. microphylla and S. ‘Snow White’. There is an herb garden with several almonds and a quince tree. Herbs planted include calendula, rue, English lavender, yarrow, orris root (iris germanica var. florentina), society garlic and globe artichoke. An unusual addition to the garden is a specimen of Acokanthera oblongifolia, Bushman’s poison or wintersweet. This plant is native of Africa. All parts are toxic and this plant was used to make the poison used by natives to poison the arrows or spears used to capture animals.
The garden continues to evolve and grow with additional plantings. It looks especially good in the springtime. It was well worth a visit. Beaumont House is open on the first Sunday of the month (except January) from 2.00pm to 4.30pm or by arrangement. Admission fees apply. Location: 631 Glynburn Road, Beaumont. Thank you to Merilyn Kuchel and the volunteers for their time, hospitality and informative talks.
Thanks again to Sandra for coordinating the tour.
Reference: National Trust SA information brochure/maps.