Tosari Park has history. The property dates back to the early 1840s when the Gore brothers founded what was then Yandilla Station, west of Toowoomba.
The property, which was once the largest dairy farm in Queensland, has had many innovative features added over the years, including an immense irrigation scheme.
Most recently the property has become best known to Darling Downs residents and visitors for its successful open garden events in 2005 and 2007, hosted by current owners Di and Glen Elsden. The couple has made a slow and steady resurrection of the garden after a series of crippling floods and droughts over recent years. Three floods and a subsequent long dry spell saw the gardens in state of disrepair by the end of 2013. Some soul searching and a new determination to reinvigorate the garden in early 2014 has seen a remarkable transformation. The garden now hosts a series of ‘rooms’, some new, some old. You can walk in an Italianate garden, view cottage garden areas, visit the orchard and open park area and peer into Di’s art studio.
In discussing the challenges of gardening on this particular site, Di Elsden comments, “We have freezing cold winters, a week or two of spring and then the heat starts. We have to choose plants that do well both in our climate and in our soil.”
Tosari art gallery is very well known, not just on the Darling Downs, but increasingly across the country. As an artist, Di Elsden uses the gardens and landscape as inspiration. In fact, Di says she began painting flowers when she was four or five years of age and they have always been her inspiration. “I particularly like the memories and emotions plants can bring out in people. Many of the plants in our garden are reminders of family and friends and this emotion then feeds into the paintings,” she says.
While many parts of the garden have a distinct cottage feel, overall it has a formal and tidy appearance. The garden’s theme of ‘clipped hedges and defined edges’ is a beautiful example of how keeping one garden element unified spreads an orderly feel to the whole. Large areas have been carefully designed to make use of the abundant space on the property, maintaining a park-like quality.
Roses are the star here. With a sense of fun, Di has inducted the best into the ‘Tosari Hall of Fame’ including varieties like Silver Ghost, Fire Star, Iceberg, Seduction, Peter Frankenfeld, Elina, Apricot Nectar, Larmarque, and her personal favourite, the gorgeous fragrant red Papa Meilland. Her attention to detail in placement and care should see the roses in full cry for the planned open weekend this year.
Tosari Park will be open on Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22. The garden is located between Toowoomba and Millmerran. Turn into Leyburn Road, about 10 kilometres before Millmerran, then follow the signs.
Words Brian Sams Images by Brian Sams