Water Garden, Mayfield Garden, Oberon, New South Wales
One of the world’s largest privately owned cool climate gardens has just opened to the public – meaning you can ’gram its secret coves, stunning sculptures and cascading creeks pretty much any day of the year.
By Carla Grossetti
Published: 24 April, 2017
Good news for Instagrammers: one of the world's largest privately owned cool-climate gardens has opened its gates to the public, allowing visitors into its vast wonderland of secret groves, lily-covered ponds, grand bridges, lakes, avenues of trees, blossom-covered hills and blazing seasonal colours for 363 glorious days every year.
The gates to Mayfield – three hours west of Sydney in the town of Oberon – have been opened to the public on occasion in the past, but this is the first time large portions of the garden have been made permanently accessible. If you want to see the whole lot you’ll need several days, says Mayfield CEO Hamish Keith, but if your time is limited there are certain highlights you shouldn’t miss. Here are some of our favourites.
See the Water Garden
You’ll be inspired to update your daily adventures on Insta when you arrive at this carefully curated area. As the name suggests, water plays a big role here: visitors can sit and watch as crystal-clear rivulets rush and tumble over tiers of local bluestone into a basin surrounded predominantly by deciduous trees. But there is more to discover in the Water Garden’s 1.5 hectares (six acres). As well as 70 variations of rhododendrons, in various colours, the area has traditional English formal garden areas, hedges and flowering bulbs, stone bridges and a three-metre-high (10-foot) copper fountain, sculpted into a tree. Hammocks are soon to be installed here too, so you can relax – or even meditate – by the water. The area has been compared to Claude Monet's garden in Giverny, France – and its water lilies were propagated from there.
Visit the obelisk
Next to the Water Garden you’ll find a grand obelisk overlooking an alley of London plane trees – one of the garden’s most Instagrammed features – where you can play bocce, croquet, garden chess, or enjoy a picnic hamper from Mayfield’s cafe (yes, there’s a cafe). Sit on your rug and enjoy a smorgasbord of cold meats, salads, goats cheese, different types of bread, and, if you like, a bottle of wine with your meal.
Eat like a local at the café
Mayfield is located on a 2000-hectare (5000-acre) working farm, and 80 per cent of the food served at its Cafe & Produce Store is produced on site, much of it at the 1.4-hectare (three-acre) kitchen gardens 60 metres (65 yards) from the cafe tables. The remaining 20 per cent of produce is locally sourced. Take a seat in this atmospheric place, where you can often hear live local music in the courtyard, and order one of the attractive dishes. Our tip is the cafe’s signature vegan salad, plated with edible flower petals, and a Champagne jelly dressing. You can also often find local food trucks and pop-up stations by local providores here serving food, wine and craft beer, including Tommy's (serving Mexican-Australian), Al Dente (offering “a seasonal deli of gourmet fresh food with no set menu”), Moubar Vintage (selling local coffee and sweet snacks from a 1950s caravan) and a craft beer truck by Two Heads Brewing.
See the Private Garden
As well as the 14 hectares (36 acres) of garden now open to the public, Mayfield’s Private Garden – majestic grounds of 55 hectares (136 acres) – is open for a 16-day period at the height of each season. Visit during autumn to see trees ablaze with colour, or wander the hydrangea walk during summer, when brightly coloured blooms carpet the area. At any time of year you should also wander among the many fruit trees of the two-hectare (five-acre) orchard, which produces the cherries, apples, peaches, pears and figs served in the cafe’s relishes, chutneys, desserts and salads. The orchard is designed to have different trees at different elevations, which means they flower in different sections at different times.
Book a yoga retreat
For no-holds-barred access to the entire grounds even when sections are normally shut, Mayfield’s two-night yoga retreats offer a program by sought-after Australian teacher Jan Green, complete with a vegan, garden-to-plate menu, nightly stargazing, and daily practices in various intimate sections of the gardens. Stay in the on-site guest-house, which comes with its own two-hectare (five-acre) garden complete with lake, island and rowboats. The next Mayfield Yoga Retreat will take place on 5-7 May.
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