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A Gardeners Guide to Moyne Shire
by Andrea Lowenthal
Codrington - Yambuk - Port Fairy - Koroit - Macarthur - Mortlake - Ellerslie - Wangoom - Hawkesdale & Rosebrook
The Moyne Shire is a diverse and ancient landscape. Part of one of the largest volcanic plains in the world, the area is dotted with extinct or perhaps only dormant volcanic cones. The soils are rich and fertile. With the coming of Europeans to this ancient continent however, the landscape changed. Many areas of native forest were cleared both for farming purposes and for their valuable timber resources. Some of the more affluent settlers built large homes on their properties and planted European trees and plants in park-like settings, for even after two or three generations, England was still "home" for many people. These planting's were a reminder of that longed-for land. As new towns developed, areas were often set aside for Botanical Gardens, the Councillors of the day employed well-known garden designers, and with advice from the Government Botanists, planted trees and shrubs from around the world.
Examples of these public gardens still exist in Victoria and the Moyne Shire is fortunate to have such gardens as well. Many of the trees in particular are now mature specimens of trees that are now rare and endangered. With settlement however, came damage to the environment and evidence of this damage, such as slat effected land and soil erosion, can be found within the Shire. Landcare groups are tackling these problems head on with great success. Pockets of natural bush still exist in areas such as the Framlingham Forest, Mt Eccles National Park and the Ralph Illidge Sanctuary.
Moyne Shire includes many kilometres of coastline with areas featuring predominantly lime based soils. The gardens of the coastal regions are a product of their locality. Many hardy plants thrive in the seaside gardens of towns such as Port Fairy and Peterborough despite the salt laden winds, while those with a more sheltered aspect can confidently try to grown just about anything. Port Fairy has many delightful restored Victorian era houses and cottages and the gardens reflect the cottage style with many old fashioned perennials and roses. Street plantings in Port Fairy and Koroit include magnificent specimens of the Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) many planted to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria's Reign. Also of note are the planting's of Norfolk Island Hibiscus (Langunaria patersonii) and the New Zealand Christmas Tree or Pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), all hardy varieties in a coastal environment.
The Moyne Shire is truly a gardeners delight. The gardens listed here, both public and private, are as diverse as the landscape and the nurseries will hopefully have that special plant for which you have been searching.
* Several Western District gardens are opened each year for the 'Open Garden Scheme'. Also of note are the Botanical Gardens at Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland.
* For further information about areas of native flora, see the booklet "Nature Reserves of Warrnambool & District" available at the Port Fairy & Region Visitor Information Centre.