664 Majors Creek Rd, Jembaicumbene
Off the Majors Creek Road at Jembaicumbene are three of the historic properties in the district. To get to Exeter Farm one must drive past Millpond with its alpacas and the imposing Wheatfield Gallery in the restored mill, Durham Hall with its 1830s homestead and finally to Exeter Farm.
An uninterrupted view of rolling paddocks and a stately 100 year old radiata pine signal the end of the 3 kilometre driveway. Exeter Farm has been owned by generations of Owen Gwinn’s family since it was granted and purchased by William Henry Roberts in 1835. Roberts entered in partnership with his brother-in-law, Andrew Badgery and the two, both avid race horse enthusiasts, bred several top class and famous horses.
Despite the long history of the property, the garden at Exeter Farm is relatively new. Kate and Owen Gwinn explain that between about 1900 and 1978 virtually no gardening was done, so Kate began the task of creating a garden virtually from a blank canvas. She says she made many mistakes in those early years and battled with soil problems before finally consulting an expert and laying the foundations for the existing garden.
Kate says she doesn’t have much of a gardening philosophy, but the one principle she does hold to is that a garden should not reveal itself all at once. The Exeter garden meanders from one section to another with the use of gates and screening plants to lead the views through narrow spaces out into a new and sometimes unexpected wider one.
A stone path leads down into a cool grove, which then opens on to the view across the paddocks, which in turn narrows down to the more formal landscape and lawn at the front of the house.
Kate says she doesn’t necessarily have a favourite part of the garden, but she does love the little courtyard next to the house, sheltered from the wind and which, in the colder months, is a suntrap.
Kate comes from generations of gardeners who created gardens in harsh environments like Coonamble and Forbes, and of Owen’s ancestors choice to settle in the Jembaicumbene valley Kate says “The ancestors chose this location well”.