The Bishop’s Lodge Garden
When the Linton family moved into Bishop’s Lodge in September 1889 the home grounds comprised eight acres. Here the ground was ploughed to a depth of 18 inches and four hundred trees, fruit and ornamental trees were planted over a three month period that spring. A further 13 acres of paddock lay immediately to the south. This was an area subject to flooding by the Bungah Creek, the Bishop Linton felt it would be exceedingly valuable for the cultivation of horse feed and fruit trees if irrigated. It was separated from the Lodge by a road, Moama Street, which is now the Sturt Highway.
Ah Mow, the Chinese gardener, had been engaged by Bishop Linton in the early 1890s and was still part of Bishop’s Lodge in 1921. It is not clear how long after this he was there and some mystery surrounds his death.
There was a formal entrance from Lang Street and, from as far back as Bishop Anderson’s time, the Roset Street entrance has been the ‘front gate’. The wide access to the river, which was directly in line with the front door, was generally used as a footpath. Flanking this path were pine trellises on which Ah Mow grew all kinds of black and white table grapes. Rosemary and lavender grew below the trellis. The current plantings to the north of the house are a nod to that concept. Ah Mow kept a vegetable garden on the south of the building and another in the north west corner of the grounds. He also tended an extensive orchard of pear, apple, plum, peach, nectarine and apricot trees.
By about 1915 the view from the front verandah was one of well-kept lawns and beautifully tended gardens on every side. There were large rose bushes in the middle of the circular lawn and well grown scrubs on either side of the front garden. Pepper and plane were the dominant trees.
The rose garden to the north of the driveway was established by Bishop Anderson 1895 - 1915. Bishop Anderson was an enthusiastic gardener and loved his roses. He was both a keen grower and an enthusiastic exhibitor.
Pencil pines and a date palm on the circular front lawn were planted about 1931- 1935.
What is now referred to as the ‘hidden garden’ was originally an enclosed garden visible from the entrance, but subsequent growth has concealed it. Some of the original posts and wire netting remain; small chicken wire below and larger gauged marsupial wire above. Lemon and orange trees were planted around beds in the rose garden. During Bishop Anderson’s time there was a summer house in the enclosed garden. Built of timber with seating within, it was approached via a central path beneath a rose-covered archway. This summer house was reinstated in the late 1980s.
By 1988 the grounds had been reduced to 3.5 acres. After 1985 a number of plants were cleared to facilitate conservation work, including a massive wisteria and gardenia which grew against the verandah.
50 roses were found still growing in the garden. 32 were different old varieties and another 50 were planted in the eastern front lawn in beds to correspond with earlier beds that bounded the driveway. By 1996 some 21 old roses were still unidentified. 11 have possible identities and 6 have been identified as being pre 1925. Two old roses were lost accidentally. The process of identification of the unidentified ‘found’ roses is ongoing. These original roses are named for someone who has been part of Bishop’s Lodge. These include family members, the gardener and the architect. Each of these is prefaced by Bishop’s Lodge. Bishop’s Lodge Sydney Linton is the signature rose. In 1992 the Roset Street rose hedge of 30 roses was planted. The kitchen garden was re-established in 1994 and in 1996 the picking garden was planted with 95 roses, 11 nut and fruit trees. There are now some 350 rose bushes established in the garden.
Roses from the garden are budded onto hardy understock by specialists and are available for sale to the public.
In recent years a collection of trees and shrubs native to the district has been added to the garden and a planting of trees, shrubs and rose hedges form a screen from the highway.
The guiding principles of maintaining the garden are sustainability and the acknowledgement of the original designs and concepts, albeit in a much smaller space. From 1985 the practice of watering infrequently but deeply and using mulch to conserve moisture has helped the garden survive many years of drought and higher temperatures.
The Heritage Act 1977 protects all existing trees.