With the middle name of ‘Rose’, it seems fitting that Sandy McKinley has cultivated a life surrounded by flowers. Whilst all things botanical have been a lifelong passion for Sandy, this enthusiasm became all the more serious in 2007, when she stumbled across the listing for a ramshackle miner’s cottage in Trentham, a charming heritage town in the Hepburn Shire of Victoria. It had all the foundations of a dream country escape, plus an acre of paddocks to plant the tiny flower farm she had always longed for.
Sandy and her partner Rob set about removing the fields of wild blackberries overgrowing the paddocks in order to plant 1,000 roses (!) acquired from a local tree nursery. The pair’s local affiliations grew from there, as they joined forces with neighbouring flower farm Crofters Fold to establish Consortium Botanicus, a network of slow flower farms across the shire.
From this initiative, sprang the Daylesford Macedon Slow Flower Farm Trail, where regional visitors can now obtain naturally grown flowers from a range of local, bee-friendly flower farms. Sandy’s emphasis on a holistic approach to organic flower farming has culminated in many other local collaborations, such as the rose petal kefir she makes with The Fermentary in Daylesford, as well as workshops on edible flowers and flower therapy she runs in summer!
This integrated approach to botanical living has worked incredibly well for Sandy’s own micro-farm, which today grows more than 1,700 roses. She and Rob retail their roses direct-to-consumer, as well as to DIY brides and florists. This hyperlocalised business model has driven Rob and Sandy into a niche but clever market – they specialise in elopements!
With this in mind, accommodation for a private, self-contained wedding seemed an essential addition to Sandy and Rob’s home-grown business. And so, in 2018 the pair set about upgrading the cottage on the property – re-stumping, re-flooring and re-decorating, with assistance from designer Belle Hemming Bright.
‘We wanted the look and feel to be nurturing, comfortable but luxurious,’ explains Sandy. Working with a collection of found and recycled objects Sandy had accumulated over the years, Belle created a subtle but distinct personality for every room, each of which connects to the overall Cape-Cod-meets-Country aesthetic maintained throughout the residence. Now known as Acre of Roses, the updated residence and thriving flower farm is now available for short term accommodation!
This idyllic country escape is a constant source of inspiration for Sandy, for whom the place is always a ‘work in progress’. In the future she plans to add a glass orangery off the main building, in order to create a conservatory-like dining space inspired by English farmhouse kitchens. After that, she plans to convert the dining room into a library and reinstate the original 1860s fireplace! And if Sandy gets her way, this will soon be followed by a studio barn on the rear of the site, fitted with copper hardware and detailing.
Acre of Roses is open for guests based outside of Metropolitan Melbourne who are still able to travel within Victoria. You can book your stay at The Miner’s Cottage here. The Potting Shed will re-open for guests on September 1st 2020.