About to bloom: Musk gardens open day nears

September 28th, 2023About to bloom: Musk gardens open day nears

Two of the region’s premier gardens are preparing to open their gates to visitors for a fundraising picnic day on Saturday, November 18.
Helen Hayes in the Musk Manor Garden.

Words and Image: Eve Lamb

Two of the region’s premier gardens are preparing to open their gates to visitors for a fundraising picnic day on Saturday, November 18.
Famed Musk Farm garden and neighbouring Musk Manor garden, located within cooee of each other, are opening as a fundraiser to support the Musk CFA.
Famed Musk Farm is the iconic garden developed by the late Stuart Rattle and features 15 “garden rooms” inspired by the grand estates of France and England.
Across the road, Musk Manor garden is opening to the public for the second time and the garden’s creator and resident owner, Helen Hayes, will be on site for the event, as will her part-time gardener Clare Dynon.
It’s hard to believe, but true, that Helen and her husband Michael Lynn have only owned this impressive garden for the past six-and-a-bit years.
In that time resident green thumb Helen has set about cultivating the site into something to delight garden lovers and local birdlife alike.
“The whole bottom of the garden was just empty and weed infested and we pretty much started from scratch,” she says.
But it was the intrinsic garden potential of the site that clinched their purchasing the property from the outset, Helen says.
Now the continual evolution of the Musk Manor garden is an ongoing labour of love for this passionate gardener whose plant choices are often informed by her wish to cater to the needs of local bird and insect life.
“I definitely work in this garden six days a week now,” says Helen who is a former University of Melbourne librarian and also a former Australian Businesswoman of the Year, with a background in the corporate and government sectors.
Coordinator of the upcoming Musk Open Gardens, Duncan Evans says visitors are encouraged to pack a picnic rug and catch the tourist railway out from Daylesford to reach the gardens – for several good reasons.
One of these is to avoid potential parking issues that emerged when the Musk gardens opened last year and the event drew some 500 visitors.
While limited parking will be available, Duncan says another good reason to jump aboard the tourist train is simply to support this local tourist attraction and enjoy what it has to offer.
“Last year we had a lot of people from Melbourne who said they loved catching the train, and a lot of children who really loved it,” Helen says.
Duncan also says a good array of food and specialty beverage stalls will be on site on the day selling refreshments including coffee, gin and wine.
Visitors can even pre-order a gourmet lunch box via the event’s dedicated website at muskopengardens.com.au and are encouraged to purchase food on site, although you can also pack a picnic hamper.
There will also be a silent auction and some attractive raffle prizes up for grabs. A main aim, Duncan says, is to have visitors make a real day of it, stay and have lunch on site and really soak in the two gardens’ beauty.
“For garden lovers it’s a fantastic opportunity to see two of the region’s premier gardens,” he says.
Plant sales will be an added attraction and Helen says plants on offer at Musk Manor are likely to include hellebores, irises, hebes, Christmas lilies and “a lot of bulbs”.
“The irises will be looking brilliant at that time of the year,” she says.
“And last year people really loved the peonies and the oriental poppies.”
“I think it’s a garden for using. I love to see people just enjoying sitting on the lawn and having a picnic. It’s a beautiful time of year.”

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