Monday 31 August 2009

Peek At Private Paradise

Rarely are you given the opportunity to peek inside a private paradise. Ralph and Janet Hogan are opening the gates to their private garden as part of the Australian Open Garden scheme, the weekend of 31st October and 1st November. Perched on a promontory, overlooking Hayman Island and the Coral Sea in Airlie Beach, Villa Botanica combines a magnificent sub-tropical garden in a stunning coastal setting.

Driven by a desire to create something significant and inspirational, owner Ralph Hogan says, “I am influenced by the turn of the century when people created lasting beautiful spaces. My newest addition to the garden is a Cactarium, which I like to imagine pays homage to the Art Nouveau hothouses of Europe.” The open garden weekend gives nature lovers the rare opportunity to experience the sense of life, growth and creativity in this wonderful setting.

The new Cactarium will be officially opened by popular gardening identity Helen Young, who will be available to talk to visitors over the weekend. The property includes one of the largest succulent gardens in Australia along with some rare and great cactii including a huge 55 year old Echinocactus grusonii. There is also a remnant native monsoonal vine thicket forest with some substantial Mackay Cedars, lots of tulip oaks, Burdekin plum and the local bottle tree, Brachychiton compactus. Jungle aroids clamber-up rainforest trees and a beautiful pebble pathway winds through the magic. There are elegant fountains, fabulous views, beautifully carved one-offs from Bali, niches of wonder and oddities.

Janet Hogan says “It’s a very beautiful location and one we have the great fortune to be custodians of. It’s a privilege we love sharing with others”. Villa Botanica is rarely open to the public, except for exclusive weddings and special events. Profits from the open garden weekend will be donated to Quota International of Whitsunday which is best known for its services to the hearing impaired. The garden will be open from 10am-4:30pm on Saturday and Sunday and the entry fee is $6.00. Over 250,000 people visit the open gardens around Australia each year.

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