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

Heronswood House + Garden Celebrates A Milestone

Gardens

What a legacy Clive and Penny Blazey have nurtured!

As founders of Diggers Club, Australia’s largest gardening club, they have helped preserve an astounding abundance of rare plants and heirloom seeds over the past 40 years.

In the leadup to a very special Heronswood Harvest Festival next weekend, the pioneers reflect on the ‘fascinating pursuit’ that is gardening.

2nd March, 2018

The gardens at Heronswood are a living catalogue of plants featured in their catalogues and books. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Heronswood is one of Australia’s most highly regarded gardens. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

With garden beds full of late summer flowering perennials, March is the perfect time to visit Heronswood house and gardens.
Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The gardens at Heronswood are used by the Diggers Club as a testing ground for rare and interesting plants.Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The incredible gothic revival home was built in 1866 as a holiday house for a Melbourne law professor. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Some of the Diggers Club team (left to right): Lisa Remato (CEO), Penny Blazey (founder), Clive Blazey (founder), Talei Kenyon (director, Diggers Garden and Environment Trust), Ryan O’Connor (plant manager) and Jac Semmler (seed manager). Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Lilium ‘Tiger’. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The vegetable parterre garden at Heronswood. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Sunflower ‘Evening Sun’. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

A selection of Diggers Club seeds. Did you know they sell 55 varieties of tomatoes?! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

A mixed perennial planting featuring Dahlia ‘Café Au Lait’, Perovskia atriplicifoli,a Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, Echinops ‘Veitch’s Blue’, Verbena bonariensis, Achillea ‘Hella Glashoff’. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Delphiniun ‘Blue Sensation’. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Dahlia ‘Café Au Lait’. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Not only is the garden at Heronswood spectacular, so are the views! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Diggers Club founders Clive and Penny Blazey. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Georgina Reid
Friday 2nd March 2018

‘Gardening connects you to biology, archaeology and the environment. It’s a fascinating pursuit.’ – Clive Blazey.

I first visited Heronswood house and gardens, located at Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula, a few months back. Being a Sydneysider, I guess I (sort of) have a reason for taking so long to get myself there, but Melbourne people, you’ve got no excuse. Go! It’s a fabulous garden, overflowing with rare and interesting plants, and surrounding an incredible gothic revival house.

Heronswood was originally the holiday destination for Melbourne University’s first Professor of Law, William Hearn, who employed Edward La Trobe Bateman to design the house in 1866. Clive and Penny Blazey purchased Heronswood in 1983, raising their family there, while using the garden as a testing ground for new plant species and different heirloom varieties for the Diggers Club, the mail-order plant and seed service the pair launched in 1978. Nowadays this heritage listed two-hectare property is a living catalogue of the rare plants and heirloom seeds they have helped preserve over the last 40 years.

Clive and Penny began The Diggers Club with an aim to rescue the old varieties of vegetables that mainstream seed companies were removing from their lists. It was a small operation – based out of an old tin shed – but has since grown into Australia’s largest gardening club. It now has over 75,000 members, owns two showcase organic gardens, runs restaurants and nurseries and more. The club’s growth is testament to the Blazey’s integrity and commitment to promoting seed diversity, the availability of open-pollinated heirloom seeds, and organic gardening principles. It’s also a business founded on passion. ‘I’m obsessed with growing and living with plants,’ Clive tells me. ‘I suppose everyone has a vision of creating their own piece of paradise. Gardening connects you to biology, archaeology and the environment. It’s a fascinating pursuit.’

In 2011 the Blazey family gifted ownership of The Diggers Club business and the two family-owned historic properties, Heronswood and the Garden of St Erth in Blackwood, Victoria, to a charitable trust called the Diggers Garden Trust. ‘We wanted to ensure that the things that we’ve championed such as supporting the use of heirloom seeds and sustainable gardening methods and a strong voice against genetically modified and hybridised plants and seeds would continue,’ Clive says. ‘We also wanted to make certain that our two organically certified gardens would remain intact and always be open to the public. The only way to achieve this was to bequeath the properties and garden business to the Trust to be owned by a not-for-profit garden charity.’

March is the perfect time to visit Heronswood house and garden. Nurtured by a passionate team of green-thumbs, the garden is both vast and intimate, magical and educational, and has been recognised as one of Australia’s best. With beds overflowing with hardy late summer flowering perennial plants, succulents, and vegetables, it’s an incredible spot to while away a few hours and get inspired to create your own patch of paradise.

The Diggers Club is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018 with a range of festivals and events throughout the year, including at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.

Entry to Heronswood gardens is free for Diggers Club members and children under 16, or $10 for others, For more information, see  Diggers.com.au.

Heronswood Harvest Festival
March 10th-11th
Heronswood Garden
105 Latrobe Parade, Dromana

View Comments

Similar Stories

Gardens

Ann Sherry and Michael Hogan

An extraordinary garden, in one of Sydney's most incredible residential properties.
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Lambley Nursery

Artist Criss Canning and her husband David Glenn own Lambley Nursery, an amazing plant nursery in central Victoria, renowned for their incr...
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Antique Perennials

The duo behind an amazing Kinglake nursery reflect on losing it all, re-building from scratch, and the incredibly diverse plants available t...
Georgina Reid

This Week

Studio Visit

This Cheerful New Textile + Homewares Label Brings The Sunshine We Need Right now!

Hannah Veikkanen used Melbourne's extended lockdowns to develop and launch her own textile label, creating handtufted cushions and artwork f...

Stays

A Contemporary Reimagining of Robin Boyd’s Fenner House

Las Palmas by DUO Architects in association with Davis Architects is a Byron Bay hinterland home inspired by the owner's upbringing in Robin...

Building Better

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Builder

Where do you find a good builder? How long will it take them to build my house? How much will it cost? We answer these FAQs more.

On The Market

A Historic Italianate Mansion Hits The Market In Kew

Built in 1889, Ross House (formerly called Charleville), is a heritage-protected Italianate mansion in Kew designed by local architect Henry...

On The Market

The Perfect Architect-Designed Family Home Is On The Market

The Kingsville House by Olaver Architecture is potentially the closest thing there is to a perfect family house. And it could be yours!
Sasha Aarons

Homes

Poppy Garbin + Scott Gibson Of Pop And Scott’s Dromana Dream Home

The renovated '80s home of Scott Gibson and Poppy Garbin, founders of Pop and Scott.

News

A Delicious New Book For Living A Kinder, More Gentle Life

Chef Annie Smithers shares wisdom, memories and recipes in her new book, ‘Recipe for a Kinder Life’.

Architecture

The Australian Architects Designing New Houses For An Affordable Flat Fee

Purchase environmentally-friendly, architectural house plans for an affordable flat fee by new Australian business, Architopia.

Interiors

How To Make Wallpaper Work!

Lauren Li of Sisällä Interior Design shares her tips and tricks for wallpaper that really works - and where to get it!
Lauren Li
15.15

Food

Julia's Pillowy Ricotta Tortelli With Butter And Asparagus

It's asparagus season and Julia Busuttil Nishimura has the best pasta recipe for this sweet, seasonal stalk!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Architecture

A Spacious Renovation That Makes The Most Of Every Inch

Built-in furniture has unlocked the potential of this Victorian home renovation in Fitzroy North by Architecture Architecture.
44:00

Podcast

The Unconventional Career Path Of Interior Designer Yasmine Ghoniem Of YSG Studio, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, host Lucy Feagins talks to the founder of YSG Studio and so-hot-right-now visionary leading the Australian int...

Gardens

A Beautiful New Life For A Generous Family Garden

The Haberfield Garden by Fieldwork Associates in Sydney unites multiple green zones under a canopy of excitement + abundance!

Creative People

Building A Family Legacy On Local Manufacturing, With Abode Living

Creative director Amelia Marasco Adair takes us on a tour of the company's Camberwell HQ - featuring their production warehouse, offices +

Creative People

The Earthy, Abstract Art Of Asha Holmes

Inside the textured, tonal and intuitive practice of a Northern Beaches-based painter whose star is well and truly on the rise!

Similar Stories

Gardens

Ann Sherry and Michael Hogan

An extraordinary garden, in one of Sydney's most incredible residential properties.
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Lambley Nursery

The idyllic garden and nursery of artist Criss Canning and David Glenn in Ascot.
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Antique Perennials

The duo behind an amazing Kinglake nursery reflect on losing it all, re-building from scratch, and the incredibly diverse plants available t...
Georgina Reid

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.