Cruden Farm is one of Australia's most significant gardens, and is largely the garden it is today, due to the passion and commitment of it's owner the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, who maintained and shaped the garden over an 80 year period, until her death in 2012 aged 103.
Cruden Farm is south of Melbourne, on a busy main road, with the innocuous wooden gate and post and rail fence (above) providing few clues as to just how influential the garden (and it's owner) has proved to be.
Dame Elisabeth was wife to Keith (media publisher) and mother to Rupert Murdoch who needs little introduction. In addition to her passion for her garden, she went on to become an exceptional philanthropist with an active involvement in the arts, medicine and various social causes, and holds a special place in the hearts of many Australians.
The Murdoch's bought Cruden Farm in 1928 as a weekend bolt-hole and there was not a great garden there at that stage. Edna Walling (one of Australia's most influential landscape gardeners) was commissioned to create the gardens. Edna was heavily influenced by the Arts & Craft movement and created the stunning entrance and driveway lined with lemon scented gum trees. I can personally vouch for the impact of this tree-lined driveway - the heady scent of the lemon scented gums is intrinsically and evocatively Australian!
The walled gardens were a favourite Edna Walling tool for adding structure to a garden. Unfortunately, a lot of her design was destroyed by fire in the mid forties, and subsequently Dame Elisabeth took on the design and care of the garden.
Dame Elisabeth was a hands-on gardener, happy to get her hands dirty and to make significant changes to her garden as it evolved. In 1971 Michael Morrison officially started helping Dame Elisabeth as a gardener, and has been actively involved ever since.
In addition to the garden, Dame Elisabeth also became keenly interested in the Arts, not least, in Sculpture and there are several examples within the landscape at Cruden Farm today.
Cruden Farm was open to the Public many times each year, each time in support of one of Dame Elisabeth's many charities, and she was always generous with her time at these events, and in her later years, would be seen driving around in her golf buggy happy to see her beloved garden enjoyed by so many.
At her State Memorial Service in December 2012, her son Rupert said that her boots have left "footprints that stretch across a century, a continent and a society. Her unmatched generosity of spirit has left an enduring impression on all who encountered her".
Being passionate about your garden is key to creating a space that you and your loved ones want to linger in. We aspire to be as dedicated as Dame Elisabeth and hope that this little insight into her inspirational life and work, helps you in some way create your own idyll outside at your place!