‘As soon as I stepped foot into the property my face lit up,’ Cherrie Miriklis-Pavlou, managing director of iconic Melbourne florist Flowers Vasette, tells me of her first encounter with Beechmont. ‘I fell in love with it immediately.’
On this particular day, Cherrie and her husband had taken a Sunday afternoon drive to the Dandenong Ranges, just outside Melbourne, with no intention of buying a property. They’d seen a ‘for sale’ sign, so stopped to have a look. It wasn’t what they were after. ‘The real estate agent bailed us up and asked us what we were looking for. I told her, and said maybe in a year or two we’d like to buy something.’
Before Cherrie and her husband Paul knew it, they were chatting trees, plants, and gardens with the owners of Beechmont, a 10 acre property near the town of Olinda, and Cherrie was smitten. Two days later they had bought the place. ‘It takes something pretty big to get me excited, and Beechmont did it.’
Of course it did! For a florist and serious flower lover, 10 acres of mature exotic and native trees, underplanted with a diverse collection of exotic shrubs such as viburnum, dogwood, virraya rhododendrons, camellia, cornus, edgeworthias is heaven!
The previous owners had established a vast seven-acre garden on the property – converting horse paddocks into sweeping lawns and garden beds, transforming a tennis court into a formal walled garden, and turning a former nursery into a parterre garden.
The diversity and abundance of flowers and foliage here is like a botanical lolly shop for a woman for whom ‘flowers are oxygen’. Cherrie tells me her team harvests between 150-200 bunches of flowers and foliage from the garden every few weeks for use in projects at Flowers Vasette. ‘Each time I visit the garden it transforms itself’ Cherrie says. ‘That’s what I look forward to. I just run around and see what’s growing in what patch. It’s amazing what pops up.’
While Cherrie’s dream is to one-day live full-time at Beechmont, it’s currently a weekend retreat for her and her family. The property is hired out as a luxury mountain retreat for holidays, weddings and special events when Cherrie and her family aren’t here. ‘We love this garden,’ Cherrie tells me. ‘We have a private garden at home in Ivanhoe, but Beechmont is a whole different calibre. It rejuvenates you.’
Flowers Vasette is the Principal Partner of Lee Mingwei’s ‘The Moving Garden’ currently on show at the National Gallery of Victoria until 29 January 2017.