While Glenhurst Gardens was built almost 60 years ago, the gardens are much older, having been part of the original house, Glenhurst, and maintained by gardener Ted Woodley for the whole time William Stuart lived there. Knowing what a great asset they were, the developers carefully protected the gardens during construction, even employing a gardener to look after them, and all these years later, we can be thankful for that.
Among the garden’s outstanding features is a Dracaena draco (Canary Islands dragon tree), part of the asparagus family, which was successfully protected by wire netting during the construction period.
Underneath the shade of the dracaena is a grotto-like secluded rockery rich in fern, alyssum, nasturtium and even old English lavender. Close to the swimming pool, which was constructed in 1941, is a dracaena that grew from seed from the older tree. A Tecoma grandiflora, or Chinese trumpet vine, protects swimmers from south-east winds, and is covered in bell-shaped red flowers in December and January. Throughout the garden are old walled brick walkways, covered by creeping fig. The fishpond near the swimming pool survives – minus the fish, but the stone animals remain in place.
According to Ted Woodley: “The big job is to merge this old-world loveliness with the modernity of the new Glenhurst. But it will be done.”
That aim was largely achieved. In the early years of the ‘new Glenhurst’, a full-time gardener was employed, and the garden was always maintained to a high standard. The garden has since been subjected to droughts, water restrictions, land-slides and collapsing retaining walls. After one driveway wall collapsed, remedial structural work had to be carried out, and a replacement bush garden created. For the past few decades, the budget has only allowed for weekly contract gardeners.
Despite the impact of those ‘crises’ and the reduction in gardening hours, the garden remains an attractive and much appreciated feature of the Glenhurst Gardens property.