In Part 2 of our series highlighting the contribution of volunteers to Duntryleague, we catch up with Bron Ryan.
Bron Ryan has been instrumental in leading a group of ladies in looking after the gardens at Duntryleague for the past 6 years. “We all play golf here, we love Duntry and it is our way of making a contribution to the club, none of us are horticulturists but we all share a love of gardens” explained Bron.
“We have 10 ladies who help out regularly. There are enough helpers to have 3 – 5 here most weeks. That number that works well.
The team meets weekly through spring and summer and drops it back to monthly through winter. The girls usually put in a 2hr session and share a coffee afterward.
“Now we have renovated the main beds, it is quite easy and fun.
Bron provided some background information on the trees and gardens of Duntryleague, information she presented to Molong Garden Club on a recent visit.
- The trees in front of the Duntryleague Mansion were planted between 1860 and 1890.
- In 1936, after Duntryleague was purchased by Orange Golf Club, Mr Tom Hood was Honorary Director of Tree Planting. Back then Duntrylegue Golf Course was a treeless cropping and dairy property.
- In 1949, Orange Golf Club engaged a Landscape Architect – Ilmar Berzins who was working for Mr. Lyle Sampson. His task was to undertake a masterplan of the course, setting out the existing tree species and specifying future plantings. Berzins supervised the plantings himself and continued to make annual trips from Sydney to supervise plantings until it had progressed to a point where he could allow the continuation of the plan under the directions of a greenkeeper. Berzins planted Atlantic Cedar, Claret Ash, Japanese Maples, Copper Beech, and Golden Elms. By the end of 1980, approximately 12,000 trees and shrubs covering approximately 130 species of trees and many more species of shrubs had been planted on the course.
- Many many people have donated plants to Duntryleague over the years, too many to name them all.
- Of note, in Spring 1974, Mr Neville Hawke donated a copse of white Mt Fuji flowering cherries to the right of the men’s 18th tee area. A sight to behold in Spring.
- The fountain present in early photos taken of Duntryleague Mansion is still in place today as the centerpiece of the circular driveway at the mansion entrance. Now a garden bed rather than a pond for safety reasons. This historic centrepiece provides a gorgeous foreground to the Duntryleague Mansion Porte Cochere and entrance. White tulips, coloured pansies, and dwarf Dutch box form the basis.
- A magnificent Italian Cyprus stands beside the mansion, the exact age unknown but likely well over 100 years. White hydrangeas, camellias, and azaleas adorn the left side of the mansion and Lime Lambs Ears ‘Stachys Byzantia’ and Box Hedge ‘Buxus Sempovirens’ line the front garden beds of the mansion.
- To the rear of the mansion, there is Margaret Dalton Lodge that has a garden filled with agapanthus, lambs ears, and geraniums… all coming from Brons own garden.
- The 2 big garden beds along the practice putting green and in front of the deck area have been large renovation projects to get them looking as magnificent as they do today. There was a Hebe Hedge that had become very woody, and a few roses but importantly the soil quality was excellent. The Thursday volunteer men helped clear out the bed, stripping it back to an almost blank canvas, save some roses and it was turned into a rose garden. Bron and her team underplanted the roses with catmint, lavender, daffodils, hyacinths, peonies and a border of grey lambs ears.
- Each winter the roses are pruned and sprayed with lime sulphur and later in the spring and autumn, they are fertilised with Sudden Impact for Roses. They mulch with woodchips that the Thursday volunteers chip from fallen trees.
- In the perennial garden next door, the gardening girls have planted chaster daisies, teucrium, daffodils, tulips, achillea, Sisyrinchium beared iris, bergenia, creeping flox, freesias sedum and lots of other plants. Again most of these transplanted from Bron’s own garden.
- Another beautiful bed of azaleas and miniature cyclamens sits near the Halfway House. This bed was planted by the late Mr. Ray Gollan and a garden seat sits there in his memory to take in the gorgeous sight.
- Another bed that has undergone renovation is behind the first tee. Old woody shrubs were removed and now consists of David Austin roses, Hellebores, daffodils, aquilegia’s Daphne, and peonies. There is a magnificent magnolia shading this bed. Bron admits this one is a personal favourite and loves the way the plants in this bed have been selected in keeping with an English garden fitting of the heritage of the building which backdrops it.
- In recent times, new hedged beds have been established at the back of the 4th tee and the side of the ladies 17th tee. There were grown from 270 Teucrium cuttings. On the 5th Tee, the soil has been built up and planted with azaleas and rhododendrons under the magnificent elm and oak trees. Beautiful standard Japanese maples have been planted behind the men’s 11th tee. Black Panther Aggies have been planted along the drive from Woodward street and smaller white aggies in the bed dividing the road.
- Mr. Dennis Mullen and Mr. Malcolm Campbell produced a booklet in 2008, a project of The Rotary Club of Orange describing the Trees of Duntryleague which goes into detail about all the trees on the course, hole by hole. This publication can be bought from the office.
In closing, Bron paid homage to her fellow gardeners, Kathy Fisher, Val Durack, Kay Dawes, Janet Appleby, Carol Reynolds, Ros Davis, Gay Stone, Kerry Kidd, and Jenny Brazier. Also to John Cook, David Bouffler and Bob Creagh and their other helpers, the Thursday group of men who help with course maintenance and of course Grant Barrett and his team.
It really is a team effort keeping Duntryleague looking so beautiful, and Duntryleague is indeed very fortunate to have the help of such a strong contingent of passionate volunteers.
Next time you play a round at Duntryleague, take the time to stop and smell the roses (so to speak). Take in the amazing variety of magnificent trees and shrubs lining the fairways, and soak up the beauty in the garden beds dotted about the course and around the mansion. It is all too easy to take such things for granted while you are busy trying to get that little white ball to go where you want it to. We are very lucky indeed.