Organic farmers Kate Ulman and Brendon Eisner started focusing on their family’s garden about 10 years ago, when their busy farming life began to slow down.
The couple had already been living on their sprawling regional property, just outside of Daylesford, for 12 years when they realised they were missing the joy of having a home garden, alongside their market garden.
Kate and Brendon’s dream was to create ‘a beautiful, productive space that feeds our bellies and nourishes our souls’. One of the first changes they made was to plant a kitchen garden for home use. This garden was strategically positioned so close to the house, that the couple’s daughters could be sent out ‘to pick their own afternoon tea and flowers for their bedside tables’.
‘We seem to expand the garden every season,’ Kate says. ‘We trial more varieties, we experiment with different growing techniques, and we try to extend the season by growing enough to preserve in jars for the leaner times of the year.’
For the thriving dahlia garden, Kate and Brendon looked to world-famous flower farmer Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers for inspiration. While they’ve mastered the art of flower farming now, evident in the towering rows of colourful dahlias and other blooms, Kate says establishing this garden took ‘a lot of trial and error’.
One of the biggest challenges was protecting their stunning foliage and produce from local wildlife. Kate says they resisted fencing off the garden as it ‘interrupts the flow of the landscape’, but after a few too many disappointing seasons, they had no choice but to establish a boundary – cleverly training climbing roses and beans to beautify the fence.
In winter, the frosty and wet weather prevents the family from spending too much time in their incredible garden, but in the warmer months they often find themselves ‘planting, thinning out, weeding, mulching, tying things up, fixing irrigation, fertilising, and dead heading from dawn to dusk’.
‘Autumn is definitely our favourite season, because it’s when the garden is at its most productive and beautiful,’ Kate explains.
‘Each time you visit there are new things to discover and admire. The veggies and berries are ripe for the picking, the rows of flowers are exploding with colour, the bees and the butterflies are flitting about and the hard work we’ve been doing for the other nine months of the year finally makes sense’ Kate muses. ‘A friend who visited our farm in Autumn recently described the garden as an art installation. I love that!’