What a treat is was to visit Margaret and Richard McLoughlin’s amazing home and garden at Yarra Glen for MSWPS September member’s meeting. Breathtaking views, happy smiles, stunning sculpture and a garden full of plants and succulents to take your breath away! Time passed quickly as there was so much to take in. Margaret led us on a tour of the garden which had been re-established after the fires in February 2009. It is remarkable that after the devastation of a bush fire, Margaret and Richard found the strength to start again and re-plant their garden. The McLoughlin’s are from South Africa so they included plants which originated there. King proteas rise with spectacular spikes among their fellow leucospernums. With fire resistence in mind, a colourful array of succulents were planted alongside selected natives. The phoenix has certainly risen from the ashes and it is a joy to behold.

 The sloping garden has been terraced with curving walls and pathways which adds to its visual appeal as do the groups of figurative sculptures by Graeme Foote. Fruit trees are espaliered in long rows and netted to stop the birds and animals taking advantage of all the hard work and delicious fruit as it ripens. Lush green leafy vegetables ripple in the breeze while bright yellow daffodils celebrate Spring. Lemons hang heavily on nearby trees. The twelve members who came were inspired but choosing a site in the garden for a paint  out was difficult as there were so many picturesque options.

Their home survived the fires as they had the foresight to engage an architect who incorporated fire resistant materials into a stunning design. Enormous windows light up the rooms and frame panoramic views of the Yarra Valley. Margaret’s purpose built studio is every artist’s dream as it is also light and bright, with space for work areas and plenty of storage hidden neatly behind sliding doors. No wonder Margaret is so creative. Her latest commission is a large work of a brightly coloured landscape and her style is highly developed and unmistakable.

Richard has used metal remainders from the fires to construct imaginative sculptures which adds masculine appeal to the house and garden. Inside Margaret’s paintings adorn the walls in tasteful array, blending stylishly with artworks collected on their travels both near and far. Margi’s happy personality and flair are mirrored everywhere!

The weather was perfect despite gloomy forecasts and we all enjoyed Margaret’s home made crunchy cookies and slices of Lulu’s delicious cake as we sat on the verandah enjoying this exceptional MSWPS member’s get together.