Plant / Life: Cherrie Miriklis-Pavlou

“As soon as I stepped foot into the property my face lit up,” Cherrie Miriklis-Pavlou, managing director of iconic Melbourne florist Flowers Vasette, tells me of her first encounter with Beechmont. “I fell in love with it immediately.”

Cherrie Miriklis-Pavlou, managing director of iconic Melbourne florist Flowers Vasette. Image by Annette O’Brien

On this particular day, Cherrie and her husband had taken a Sunday afternoon drive to the Dandenong Ranges, just outside Melbourne, with no intention of buying a property. They’d seen a ‘for sale’ sign, so stopped to have a look. It wasn’t what they were after. “The real estate agent bailed us up and asked us what we were looking for. I told her, and said maybe in a year or two we’d like to buy something.”

Before Cherrie and her husband Paul knew it, they were chatting trees, plants, and gardens with the owners of Beechmont, a 10 acre property near the town of Olinda, and Cherrie was smitten. Two days later they had bought the place.

It takes something pretty big to get me excited, and Beechmont did it,” Cherrie tells me.

Of course it did! For a florist and serious flower lover, 10 acres of mature exotic and native trees, underplanted with a diverse collection of exotic shrubs such as viburnum, dogwood, virraya rhododendrons, camellia, cornus, edgeworthias is heaven!

Image by Annette O’Brien
Image by Annette O’Brien
The house is often rented out for weekend visitors and special events such as weddings. Image by Annette O'Brien
A rustic stairway links different levels and spaces within the garden. Image by Annette O'Brien
The garden is a combination of formal rooms such as the tennis court and parterre, and looser mixed shrub and perennial plantings. Image by Annette O'Brien
The gravel and box hedge parterre sits on the site of a former plant nursery. Image by Annette O'Brien
Mature conifers and brightly coloured rhododendrons frame the entry driveway. Image by Annette O'Brien
Viburnum plicatum. Image by Annette O'Brien

The previous owners had established a vast seven-acre garden on the property – converting horse paddocks into sweeping lawns and garden beds, transforming a tennis court into a formal walled garden, and turning a former nursery into a parterre garden.

The diversity and abundance of flowers and foliage here is like a botanical lolly shop for a woman for whom “flowers are oxygen”. Cherrie tells me her team harvests between 150-200 bunches of flowers and foliage from the garden every few weeks for use in projects at Flowers Vasette. “Each time I visit the garden it transforms itself” Cherrie says. “That’s what I look forward to. I just run around and see what’s growing in what patch. It’s amazing what pops up.”

While Cherrie’s dream is to one-day live full-time at Beechmont, it’s currently a weekend retreat for her and her family. The property is hired out as a luxury mountain retreat for holidays, weddings and special events when Cherrie and her family aren’t here. “We love this garden,” Cherrie tells me. “We have a private garden at home in Ivanhoe, but Beechmont is a whole different calibre. It rejuvenates you.”

Flowers Vasette is the Principal Partner of Lee Mingwei’s The Moving Garden currently on show at the National Gallery of Victoria until 29 January 2017.

This post was produced as part of our monthly Plant / Life collaboration with The Design Files. All images by Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

A blue ceramic urn framed by box hedges forms a strong focal point within the rambling garden. Image by Annette O'Brien
The Beechmont garden of Cherrie Miriklis-Pavlou is framed by native bushland, including mountain ash trees (Eucalyptus regnans). Image by Annette O'Brien