19 March 2014



Jenny Ellender can turn her hand to most things, the latest being the management of their vineyard 'Ellender Estate'.  She and Graham, previously a senior academic and dentist, have created a green oasis out of the poor soils along Green Gully Rd in Glenlyon.  Starting with a small dam and dry paddocks, they carved out the vineyard, large lake and stream, the winery and an elegant house overlooking the rolling hills.

With a background in hospitality and event management, including running a pub in England, Jenny is a natural at organising.  On top of that, she is an excellent needle craft woman and has a good eye for colour and style.

Jenny grew up in Adelaide, with parents who both valued beautiful things.  Her father was the gardener, mostly because he wouldn't allow anyone else to do the gardening.  "He didn't trust anyone to help.  Even poor Mum, who loved flowers and gardens, was only allowed to weed".  Opposite their home was a nursery and the garden quickly filled up with pretty plants.  Her parents moved to a property in the Dandenongs in Victoria.  Years later when she and Graham moved to Daylesford, Jenny planted a pretty perennial garden around  the dental surgery from plants collected in her father's garden.

The winery in Glenlyon holds many memories of her parents.  Her mother's love of roses is reflected in the masses of roses around the house and the winery.  Jenny's mother was a wise woman and like Jenny, was a dab hand at needlecraft.  One of her sayings is captivated in an embroidered piece on the wall:

'The kiss of the sun for pardon, the sound of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God's heart in the garden, than anywhere else on earth'.

Her parents' favourite trees were silver birches.  Their home in Melbourne was called 'The Birches' and the house sign now hangs on Jenny's potting shed.

Jenny collected seedlings from her parents' trees and there are now mature silver birches dotted around the rolling gardens of Ellender Estate, a gift from the old trees of home.

Jenny's mother died when she was quite young.  Down on the lake is a little memorial garden filled with roses and perennials where weddings are held.  Jenny feels that her mother's memory is captivated here.

Near the wedding garden and overlooking the lake is the Boathouse, which provides a cosy nook for couples to propose.  With a bottle of champagne and the beautiful view, this may lead to a wedding.

Around the homestead grow masses of roses, clipped box hedges and avenues of crab apple trees.  The design of the garden "just grew', with contributions from Andy Sutherland, Jai, Ron Rae and Nick Sara.  However, Jenny has coordinated things, deciding what will go where.  But the garden in front of the house is entirely her design.

The house is filled with books in elegant book cases that were made by her father.  One book case is dedicated entirely to gardens.  This is where Jenny gains inspiration and guidance.

The gardening library

The next step in the garden is to rationalise some of the earlier plantings.  Large tree roots and overarching canopies are starving the plants nearby and to allow the garden to breathe, some of the plants must go.  But Jenny is content.  She knows that the garden is constantly evolving and each decision made to remove a plant or to buy a new one, offers the opportunity for another creative venture.

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