Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Visit to Stephen Ryan's amazing garden 'Tugurium' in Macedon, Victoria, Australia

Open garden 'Tugurium' in Macedon

Last Easter weekend I had the pleasure of manning the gate at Stephen Ryan's home garden in Macedon. Stephen is well known in horticulture circles throughout Australia and is particularly well known amongst plant and garden buffs in his home town. He has amazing plant knowledge and is the president of the Macedon horticultural society.

I first met Stephen almost 4 years ago when I visited his nursery on Mt Macedon. I spoke to him about wanting a career in horticulture and was lucky as he recommended me for a job and thus my life as a gardener began in proper. He has a passion for collecting plants and runs a rare plants nursery. He has GPCAA (plant trust) collections of the genus cornus, acanthus and sambucus. He was the previous host of the popular Australian television show 'Gardening Australia' and is also an all round nice guy.

His garden is called 'Tugurium' which is latin for hovel or basic dwelling. My fellow gate minder on the open day told me Stephen humorously named it so after hearing somebody rudely remark that his property (when it was first purchased and essentially a vacant block of land with a small house) looked like a hovel. The property in its original state had virtually no topsoil. All the topsoil there now is the result of organic matter being dug in. Spent potting mix from Stephen's nursery is also regularly added to the topsoil and garden beds. The garden is basically a garden which has an amazing amount of different plants in it with a narrow paths that meanders throughout. There is a veggie patch, chook house and pond area. The garden is so full of plants that walking along the narrow path creates the sense of several walled garden areas as you cannot see the garden in its entirety only what is in your present space. The front of the garden is a bit more open and has several established trees and big manna gum that was planted to provide a home and food for the local Koalas.

There is lots to see in this garden I would definitely recommend a visit next open day. The sheer number and variety of plants that are jammed in this property is staggering and the garden path walk is an experience to remember.

Link to Stephen's website below

Medlar tree with fruit in the front of the garden

Abutilon plant. An oldie but a goody.

One of many garden beds in the front of the garden. A good example of how many plants are incorporated into the garden. Not sure of all of their names but I can spot Rhus trees and Miscanthus grasses.

This timber walkway forms part of the garden path that winds through the garden.

More of the path with the popular Dicksonia antartica (common name soft tree fern). Tree ferns thrive up in Macedon where the weather is a bit cooler than Melbourne.

I think Stephen's plant collecting is getting out of control. This sun dial was engulfed by so many plants that I'm pretty sure that no direct sun would ever strike its face. I could be wrong it was an overcast day.

Wow what a great looking pond area. I think the downfall of many ponds that people place in their gardens is that they look too manufactured whereas this one has a nice natural appearance.

Chicken coop and run. This one is nicknamed 'Cluckingham palace'.

A view of a portion of the garden path. You can see here how the garden creates the effect of walking into several walled gardens due to the sheer number of plants and clever placement of gates and archways. 

Another section of the garden towards the rear of the property. Amaranth plants and a small section of the veggie garden. 


  1. Never think of Rhus trees as native anywhere else. They grow here(Eastern Canada) and I mostly leave them, love the burgandy seed heads in the fall, so do the deer and the birds. Thanks for the post. Noticed that "Open Gardens" are published online, great idea.

    1. They aren't native here. The guy who owns that garden is a rare plants collector and he collects many exotics from around the world. It would be beautiful to see them growing in mass in the wild. They would colour up nicely in Canada I am sure.