14 Solus Street, Braidwood
Fifteen years ago, Cheryl Raper’s two-acre property was little more than a sheep paddock and a collection of weeds.
Today it is a lush and manicured oasis of lawn and colourful garden beds, the fruition of
outdoor “therapy”she began after taking a step back from running a busy restaurant and
the local paper.
Cheryl says she inherited her love of gardening from her Polish father who, when she was growing up in Melbourne’s suburbs, utilised every patch of dirt on their block – even
growing veggies on the family’s nature strip.
Her passion has resulted in a vision of calm, tucked away behind her and husband Don’s
impressive pre-1900s home on the sweeping bend into Braidwood from Canberra.
Out front, a towering English oak stands guard, a stately specimen that at 120 years old is
listed on the Register of Australia’s Biggest Trees.
Cheryl has divided the garden into “rooms” for different purposes: some – like the fruit
and vegetable section – for utilitarian purposes; others for sheer enjoyment and relaxation.
Step out the back of the house and the first thing you hear is the burbling of Monkittee Creek which runs through the rear of the property. No need for water features here.
“Some people have fairies at the bottom of their garden, we have a platypus,” Cheryl
The tranquil waterway can be crossed by an impressive suspension bridge that was a
labour of love of ex-engineer Don. On the other side, the creek’s verge has been cleared
of blackberries and replanted with natives thanks to a Landcare grant and provides the
perfect place for a shady meander.
Don’s man cave at the rear of the house is as neat as it is impressive while off the house,
Cheryl has created two sunny courtyards brimming with spring colour and perfume where she can escape for a quiet cuppa or reading session.
She explains that the original 1840s bluestone cottage at the heart of the current structure was the old Mona manager’s cottage. Since moving in, they have added architecturally-designed extensions which marry seamlessly with the original bones of the house and provide a stunning backdrop for the real showstopper: the garden.