Her “eclectic” two-hectare garden at property Wiltshire was the inspiration to start her garden tourism business, Botanica World Discoveries, in partnership with APT in 2000. “The idea began as my neighbours, knowing my tourism background, asked how to attract visitors to their beautiful country gardens,” Judy says. (RACV members save 5 per cent on APT and Botanica tours.)
From her first trip – taking a group to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show – she gradually expanded to overseas travel. She says Botanica is now the only garden-themed tour business in the world to fully charter its own ships, taking small groups to gardens not otherwise open to the public, often meeting the owners. The tour guides are all garden experts.
Perennial favourite destinations include France, Italy, Britain and the Chelsea Flower Show, as well as Japan, for both the autumn colours and cherry blossom in spring. More recently, America has become better known by garden lovers, especially the Brandywine Valley across southern Philadelphia and Delaware.
But you don’t have to be an expert, or even an avid gardener, to enjoy the tours, says Judy. “You will get from it what you want. By getting away from big cities and relaxing in a private garden and meeting the owner, you can see something totally different, even in an area you may think you already know.”
Wiltshire is where she goes to relax: “I leave the city life behind and spend time in the country with my hands firmly in the soil.” Features remain from her parents’ time – an original quince tree and 80-year-old roses – but Judy says she is always getting new ideas from her travels, so she regularly pushes out her garden fence to find space for more plants and ideas.
“The first addition to the original garden was the Pear and Stone Garden,” Judy says. This combines a zen-like use of local red scoria gravel and sandstone rock walls to offset a collection of edible and ornamental pear trees. A Perennial Pond Garden followed.
“Six years ago my husband decided he wanted a garden of his own and created a Native Leaf Garden with Australian natives and declared this his own personal territory where I was banned except for invited visits!”
Their garden can be visited as part of a five-day tour that runs in spring.
Judy’s three books celebrate the gardens and people she has met on her travels. Beyond the Garden Gate, was followed by Along the Garden Path, and this month she launches Over the Garden Fence.