This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Barry Byrne and Miguel Alvarez

Gardens

Barry Byrne is a man of vision. When he and his partner, Miguel Alvarez, moved to ‘Bebeah’, a five-hectare garden estate at Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains of NSW, he says there was nothing except a few large trees. That was 30 years ago, and in the decades that have since passed, together this pair have re-established the property. The garden was originally built in 1880 by Edward Cox, and these days is once again open for the public to enjoy.

Our gardens columnist Georgina Reid recently spent a morning in the garden with Barry and Miguel.

15th August, 2016

The gravel entrance driveway at BebeahPhoto – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Barry Byrne and Miguel Alvarez at BebeahPhoto – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Autumn leaves. Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Hydrangea macrophylla flowers.  Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Autumn colour in the garden at Bebeah. Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

One of Bebeah’s many grand avenues flanked by azaleas and antique statutory. Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Barry Byrne in the garden. Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Nothing at Bebeah is done by halves! Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Bebeah is open to the public every day.  Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Barry has a wonderful collection of antique garden ornamentation, like this water fountain. Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Layers of green as far as the eye can see.  Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

A wisteria covered folly at the bottom of the 12 acre garden at Bebeah. Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Ancient tree ferns (Cyathea spp.) dot the landscape at Mount Wilson. The mountain was apparently originally covered in them. Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Acer palmatum seeds in their winged red casings, ready to fly away with the next big gust of wind. Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

As the garden moves away from the house, it becomes less detailed and more expansive. Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

There’s so much to explore in this garden! It never ends.  Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Georgina Reid
Monday 15th August 2016

‘When we moved up here 30 years ago there was absolutely nothing here, except for a few large trees. It was a shocking old place,’ says Barry Byrne, owner of Bebeah, a five-hectare garden estate at Mount Wilson, in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

We’re strolling around the garden with Barry on a cool autumn afternoon, attempting to imagine the place before he got his hands on it. Apparently cattle, horses, and blackberries reigned supreme and the house was a mess. Barry is a man with vision, and it wasn’t long after he and his partner Miguel Alvarez moved to the property, that Barry started on his ambitious garden making project.

While he has a background in interior decorating, Barry had no previous gardening experience before moving to Mount Wilson. He just got stuck into it, using his finely honed spatial design skills to craft the garden. ‘I started at the front gate and designed until the money ran out,’ he tells me.

The garden is grand. It’s comprised of a series of formal elements – a sweeping semi-circular azalea walk, avenues flanked with pine, oak, and elm trees, and plenty of hedges. It’s not, however, a typical formal garden in the sense of a contrived structure imposed on the landscape.

It’s more interesting than that. The garden meanders around the site, loosening as it gets further away from the house. The scale is impressive, as is Barry’s eye. Antique sculptures and garden elements frame vistas and provide focal points, enticing visitors to keep on exploring.

Like many designers, Barry uses plants in his garden for their aesthetic properties of form, shape, texture, colour. He’s not a plantsman, he tells me. Plants are massed on a grand scale, with Barry using large swathes of the same plant, rather than a patchwork of many. ‘I planted 7500 azaleas,’ he says, as we walk down an avenue flanked by the cloud pruned plants. ‘We only have around 5500 left after losing a few thousand in a drought.’ Clearly, Barry is not a man who does things by halves.

It’s autumn, so the thousands of azaleas are not blooming. The colours within the garden are subtle – layer upon layer of green, orange, and burnt out reds. Fallen leaves are scattered on the gravel pathways winding through the space, which all eventually end up at the lake at the centre of the garden, glimpses of which can be seen from many vantage points throughout the property.

Everything about the garden at Bebeah is expansive. The lawns, the trees, the hedges, the shrubs – there’s an abundance of everything, and it’s all beautifully maintained by Barry and his gardener, who works 24 hours per week. I ask Barry when he’s happiest in the garden. ‘When I have somebody working in it!’ he tells me.

Bebeah is open every day from 10am – 5pm. It’s a great garden, and well worth a day trip from Sydney. Entry is $8.00.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Roundup

Tour Through The Best Of The 2019 Victorian Landscape Architecture Awards!

A look at the designs making our spaces greener, more inclusive, vibrant and climate resilient.
Miriam McGarry
  12 hours ago

Dream Job

Preserving Plants Forever At Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Not your average photographer, Angharad Johnson gives us an insight into her vital day job as the National Herbarium of Victoria's Digitisin...
Elle Murrell

Gardens

A Garden Of Native and Exotic Plants On The Mornington Peninsula

Merricks Beach garden, featuring natives, succulents and grasses - and no irrigation!
Georgina Reid

This Week

Creative People

The Ko-Working Space!

Karina van de Pol and Olivia Fleetwood take us on a tour of their incredible new creative studio and coworking space in Geelong.
Miriam McGarry

Food

Shannon Bennett's Flourless Chocolate Cake

Dense and fudgy, this decadent dessert is surprisingly fail-safe.
Shannon Bennett
  14 hours ago

Roundup

Tour Through The Best Of The 2019 Victorian Landscape Architecture Awards!

A look at the designs making our spaces greener, more inclusive, vibrant and climate resilient.
Miriam McGarry
  12 hours ago

Shopping

New 'Textural' Rugs And Cushions, From Argentina All The Way To Byron Bay

Add some texture to your home with bold new rugs and cushions from Byron Bay based homewares brand Pampa.
Miriam McGarry

News

Learn How To Manage Your Money Better

Megan Morton teams up with financial expert Chelsea Murphy from Cash Full Stop for Money Talks, a masterclass in money matters!
Sally Tabart

News

How You Can Own An Incredible Piece Of Australian Art At A Steal!

Brisbane-based watercolour artist Jennifer Tyers is offering some pretty special rewards as part of her Pozible campaign for a residency St
Sally Tabart
  11 hours ago
1.56

Inside Look

'Monet: Impression Sunrise' Comes To The National Gallery Of Australia

An exclusive look at the National Gallery of Australia's new exhibition 'Monet: Impression Sunrise', starring the painting that started the

Shopping

A Rare Retail Success Story

We revisit The Shelley Panton Store in Melbourne to find out how it's still going strong, a decade on!
Elle Murrell

Art

The Sisters Painting 'Bow River Country'

Emerging artists and sisters Kathy and Tracey Ramsay depict their Country in remote WA, in beautiful, visceral detail for their first ever s...

Work Space

Three Birds, One Inspiring Workspace!

The Sydney based trio of friends-turned-business-partners share their very fancy headquarters.
Lucy Feagins
  22 hours ago

News

Milly Dent's Pop-Up Pottery!

The Sydney-based ceramicist launches her limited-edition designs at Provider Store in Surry Hills!
Miriam McGarry

News

An Awe-Inspiring Living Wall Is Unveiled In Melbourne

Melbourne-based designer Adam Cornish and Junglefy bring clean air to Denfair.
Elle Murrell

Family

The Co-Founder Of Olli Ella Talks Business + Babies

Low-key global business mogul Chloe Brookman looks back on how far her brand has come, all with four littlies in tow!
Ashe Davenport

Architecture

Happily-Ever-After In The Storybook House

Folk Architects convert a Victorian era terrace into a tiny, dream home in Melbourne’s inner north.
Miriam McGarry

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Ceramicist Embracing The Beauty Of Blank Space

From striking functional wares to art objects, Tokyo-born Yoko Ozawa reflects on her evolution at the wheel.
Elle Murrell

Similar Stories

Roundup

Tour Through The Best Of The 2019 Victorian Landscape Architecture Awards!

A look at the designs making our spaces greener, more inclusive, vibrant and climate resilient.
Miriam McGarry
  12 hours ago

Dream Job

Preserving Plants Forever At Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Not your average photographer, Angharad Johnson gives us an insight into her vital day job as the National Herbarium of Victoria's Digitisin...
Elle Murrell

Gardens

A Garden Of Native and Exotic Plants On The Mornington Peninsula

Merricks Beach garden, featuring natives, succulents and grasses - and no irrigation!
Georgina Reid