Many of us dream of building a lasting legacy; one which will be appreciated and loved by generations to come. For Elaine Smith, her dream was to find a place where she could design and create her own special garden. Raised on a Gippsland dairy farm, her deep love of gardening started as a child when she dug out a bare patch of ground and needed to bucket water from the well to keep the plants alive. Elaine married Reg in 1957 and through his success in automotive parts manufacturing, was able to set about achieving her dream.
In 1977, they acquired the Earimil property atop the sloping cliffs of Mount Eliza and overlooking Port Phillip Bay. A run down house and a garden not worth mentioning had their friends telling them they were crazy but today’s display garden is testimony to their vision and dedication. It took six months work on the inside of the house before they could move in. The amazing beauty of Earimil makes it hard to imagine that the site is, and has been, anything but the perfect site for a garden. The first tasks in creating the Earimil dream required the removal of many large, dangerous pine trees and improvement of the impoverished soil. Even now, Elaine has to constantly battle the poor soil and salt laden northerly winds that blow in across the bay.
Elaine likes to use a lot of standard roses, standard maples and standard azaleas of different heights, mixed in with all the other plants to give a more interesting structure to the garden. “I personally don’t like a bed of roses in a garden. I prefer lots of different colours and textures to evolve during the year. As some plants finish their cycles, others come on to take their place. This type of garden takes a lot of time and effort, but it is enjoyable and satisfying work.”
Saward Dawson’s relationship with Reg and Elaine goes back almost 30 years to the early days of their business as a supplier of components to the automotive industry. We handled their taxation and corporate compliance needs as well as assisting with various business acquisitions and projects. We also played a key role in the sale of the business operations that enabled Reg to redirect his energies in new directions.
Post retirement, Reg is always busy helping Elaine in various ways. His toolmaking and engineering skills make him a very capable home and garden handyman. Saward Dawson values the continued involvement with Reg and Elaine as we assist them with the many aspects of managing their investment and retirement affairs.
It was through trial and error that Elaine created a garden that is now the envy of thousands of visitors each year. The early days on the farm taught her the work ethic and persistence needed to turn a dream into reality. With the money that they raise through open weekends (the second weekends in October and November) and specially organised group visits, they support children with life-threatening illnesses through the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children and Very Special Kids.
The beauty of Earimil is captured in a stunning book by Elaine, “My Labour of Love”. Reg and Elaine’s wonderful photography beautifully illustrates the variety and creativity that is behind this incredible garden. It can be purchased by calling Elaine and Reg any time on 9787 1045. Alternatively, look for the book when sitting in Saward Dawson’s reception area.