UPDATE: The Yass Red Cross Open Garden has been postponed due to a heavy forecast of rain over the weekend. Red Cross is now currently planning to hold the event on October 23. 

The Yass Red Cross branch is having an open garden at the historic Merryville gardens on Dog Trap Road this Sunday, May 1 from 10am to 3pm.

The event is raising funds to support the Australian Red Cross QLD and NSW Floods Appeal. Admission is $10 per person at the garden gate.

There are some exciting raffle prizes on offer, including a donation from local artist Peter Crisp owner of Crisp Gallery in Bowning. There will also be a selection of market stalls, light refreshments, and a coffee van available to peruse on Sunday.

Merryville owner Ning Clarke said they are hoping the weather will be kind and attract as many visitors as possible to help raise funds for the flood appeal.

“I’ve joined the Red Cross because I would like to contribute in every way I can to the betterment of humanity and our local community and all little things can help in so many ways,” Ning said.

The not-for-profit is also hoping to encourage more members to join the local branch and help the community and wider Australia.

Previous Merryville events have been very successful so provided the weather holds over the weekend it should be a lovely outing.

In 2017 Merryville hosted the Children’s Medical Research Institute Canberra Auxiliary, which was attended by about 500 guests and patrons for a summer luncheon to raise funds for the research of children’s genetic diseases, their cures, and treatments. In April 2018 the Clarkes also opened their garden again for another sit-down luncheon for 100 guests.

This year the Yass Red Cross Open Garden event is open to everyone whether they be interested in the historic homestead, gardening or just looking for a fun weekend activity.

“Garden lovers feel free to meander and look at the extensive parkland garden of Merryville.”

Founded and built by the late Sir Walter Merriman in 1903 and extended in the mid 30s, the homestead is built from bluestone quarried on his father’s station at Ravensworth.

Sir Walter was knighted in 1954 for his contribution to the merino wool industry in Australia and around the world. In the early days of the homestead and garden it boasted a large orchard in the front of the property.

But in the late 70s when the property was acquired by the Clarke family and the orchard was replaced by a formal blue cobblestone driveway that was in- stalled in the 80s with an original gateway set erected at Centennial Park in Sydney in 1888.

Ning has been redesigning and working in the garden and wider property since 2007.

Now when arriving on the property you’re greeted by a long driveway lined with growing pine trees and a variety of prettier plants from canna lillies, white belladonnas, hot pokers, gladioli blushing bride, watsonias, dahlias, irises, to rows of ornamental apple and peach trees, and white crepe myrtles.

In 2018 Ning and her husband were able to build her dream – bluestone raised garden beds with a fountain and fishpond – which she helped design and build from scratch.

“All in all, the garden is still developing and looks like it will be extended,” Ning said. “We have more plans in the future to become a garden destination and wedding venue.”

Currently, Merryville offers B&B accommodation in the homestead for guests to enjoy the garden and local history.

If you’re interested in attending the Red Cross Open Garden or becoming a member then hop onto the Yass Red Cross Branch Facebook page or call 0408 289 906 for more information.

By Brianna O’Rourke