Beyond the Garden Gate: a look inside the best gardens of the Highlands

When I was about Daisy’s age instead of Justin Bieber posters (or the equivalent) on my bedroom wall, I had posters with photos of gardens. Yep. Bluebells and tulips, pictures of Monet’s Garden in Giverny through all the different seasons. I had coffee table books that my Mum & Dad had given me filled with cottage gardens from the UK and Europe. I would escape into the pictures and loved everything about them.

Most holidays in winter and Spring Mum would rent houses in the Blue Mountains and we would stay and visit open gardens. Talk about daggy right? But boy did I love it. Seeing these beautiful gardens that people had made and looked after, wishing that we could have tulips and cold climate plants in our garden in the suburbs of Sydney. Mum was a passionate and good gardener, our house was always filled with beautiful plants and a well manicured lawn. She just had a knack with it: still does. I suppose before my full feral teenage years came into play: so from the age of 11-14 this is the kind of stuff that I loved.

So it come as no surprise really that we ended up where we did, living somewhere just as beautiful than the places I was lucky enough to visit when I was younger. I think it’s why I am as happy as I am living here, I still get that magical thrill when the weather is cold, when the autumn leaves change and the light is magic, when the spring bulbs are in full bloom and when the green summery leaves on the trees provide cooling relief from the hot sun.

Walking around our village at any time of the year you can’t help but peer through people’s gates to the beautiful gardens they have created. I still get that same feeling of catching your breath when you see something beautiful: admiring mother nature and people’s creativity working together to create magic.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit some truly remarkable gardens in the 8 years we have lived here. I never take for granted the privilege it is to being welcomed into people’s homes and gardens and have honestly seen some of THE most magical sights inside and out many a time. I have been to Jenny’s house for morning tea and felt like I was a little girl visiting the Queen. I have had afternoon tea at Jan’s with champagne and sponge and been allowed to pick flowers from her garden for my own posies. We have had lunch at Patsy’s and admired their art and sculpture and true creativity in creating amazing spaces. We have had drinks parties in Sandra’s garden and felt like I had to be pinched to be somewhere SO beautiful. Whether it’s Elizabeth’s, or Annie’s, Tricia or Mum’s these gardens inspire and feed my soul with their beauty and I feel SO lucky that I am able to see them, enjoy them and be in them.

Another local down here, Jacqui Cameron, who has lived down here for a decade with her young family growing and selling trees (we have lots of trees from their farm) isn’t a horticulturist but she too has grown up with a large country garden and has a pretty good understanding of what goes into them. Her passion to look over into some of the amazing gates in the villages throughout the Highlands led her to create her new book: Beyond The Garden Gate: Private Gardens of the Southern Highlands.

This beautiful coffee table book is the stuff my tween years were made of: filled with amazing pictures and photos by Sue Stubbs, capturing the magic and beauty of these gardens and of course the amazing people behind them. As Jacqui said at the opening, there’s no ego in gardens and the people that put in the hard work (and boy is there plenty of that involved in having a big garden) are so willing to teach and share. Their stories and generosity of spirit are captured beautifully in this book.

Jacqui and Sue should be so proud of bringing this book to life for so many of us all to enjoy. While many people live far away from our beautiful Southern Highlands, with buying this book they will be able to be transported into these gardens throughout all of our magical seasons and what a gift that is.

And thanks to Jacqui I have a special code for BABYMAC readers to enjoy. The Book retails at $80 (it’s a big and heavy book jam packed with beautiful photographs over 255 pages) Jacqui has given us a $15 discount to cover the cost of sending it. So everyone can feel like a local! Just enter the code  BABYMAC at checkout for the discount to apply for free shipping. You can click onto their website here to start buying (and please do if you are garden lover).

Congrats again Jacqui, and thanks for taking us all on this journey Beyond the Garden Gate.

Are you a garden lover or gardener?
Were you a daggy tween who loved Monet and gardens like me?
Do you have a favourite season or flower?
Tulips and Spring will always have my heart….


  1. Oh my goodness, that was me too Beth!! I have books on private gardens of London etc and my favourite thing to do with my Mum was a day trip from Sydney to the Highlands or the Blue Mts visiting gardens. Every Friday night we would sit and watch Burkes Backyard together and try to create our own little private haven. Sadly my Mum passed away from throat cancer 9 years ago, I love taking my 2 boys when it is Open Garden season and hoping some of it will rub off on them.

  2. I do enjoy a good garden, and I love the idea of gardening. This book looks lovely. Thank you!

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