Not much is known about the provenance of Beechmont before January 1997, when avid gardeners Simon and Marcia Begg bought the property. At the time it consisted of horse paddocks and gardens containing a mix of European and Australian native trees and shrubs. The Beggs’ believed the area was probably cleared for timber at the turn of the 20th century and later used for dairying, potato crops, horses and propagating flowering shrubs. The oldest part of the garden is near the entrance and has many beech trees, rhododendrons, camellias and other large deciduous trees, some of which are over 70 years old.
Cherrie Miriklis, amazing florist and owner of renowned Flowers Vasette in Fitzroy purchased the property from the Beggs in 2013. She fell in love with the property particularly the gardens which provided both an opportunity for the store to receive bounty directly from the gardens, but also as a place she and her florists could get back in touch with nature and the seasons, and feel inspired. Cherrie foresaw opening the grounds for events such as tours, floristry and garden workshops (works in progress, stay tuned), and the residence for boutique accommodation (open now).
The Beechmont Name
The village of Olinda is situated on one of the highest points in the Dandenong Ranges. When the Beggs’ acquired the property they found established beeches (both Fagus and Nothofagus), all thought to be at least 80 years old- hence, of course, the name Beechmont.
When the Beggs’ moved to the property they found mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) and blackwood wattles (Acacia melanoxylon), a very tall tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) with a beautiful sculptured trunk and copses of established beeches from which the property gets its name. They made one of their goals to collect many beeches of both genuses. They also planted many varieties of viburnums, cornus, rhododendrons- particularly vireyas, edgeworthias, camellias, fuchsias, a Queensland bunya bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii), Queensland hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii), Wollemi pines (Wollemi nobilis) and many exotics.
In 2002 Marcia and Simon remodelled the tennis court into a walled garden with climbing wisteria and clematis on the walls and perennial plants and a parterre at the entrances. An avenue of persimmons, a collection of daphne, and a reflective pool were also designed into the grounds at various points.
Whilst Cherrie has kept the garden much the same, things change- trees fall in storms, new varieties get planted, plants that need reshaping get pulled into line, and overgrown areas get clipped. The gardens are forever changing. Beechmont’s head gardener is the man of the moment - full of knowledge and an abiding patience. Look out for his garden talks under Our Events section.