Lotus garden open to public 

LABOUR OF LOVE: Above, lotus flowers at Albion Farm. Left,  the annual Christmas party is held at the School of the Arts and,  right, resident Bob Beale.  Pictures: Simone De Peak

HISTORIC Albion Farm at Woodville is a good example of how one person’s flood is another person’s water garden.

Tomorrow whether you are a gardener, farmer or inner-city apartment-dweller, you have the chance to see one of the Hunter Valley’s most spectacular and exotic labours of love.

It is the Redmans’ lotus garden, which is now at the peak of its beauty.

Albion’s owners, ‘‘full-time gardeners’’ Phil and Sandy Redman  have created a  flower-shaped water garden full of  varieties of lotus.

Mr Redman said that in 1973, the first year the couple were at the farm, the Paterson River flooded their property three times, so they decided to specialise in ‘‘bog plants’’.

The Redmans are opening their property on the weekend to raise money for the Woodville School of Arts Hall, a 1920s building that appears to be considered as much a respected member of the community as the people who own it.

Visitors are welcome to taste the fruits of the Redman orchard and wander through the neighbouring gardens at Gracemere and Albion Way, the homes of extended family members.

The School of Arts Hall started life in the 1870s, when Woodville’s Mutual Improvement Society  needed a place to meet.

Resident Bob Beale said they debated topics such as ‘‘Should bachelors be taxed?’’ and ‘‘Should racing be banned?’’ before the organisation evolved into the School of Arts.

‘‘It has been a flood refuge and always serviced as the Iona Public School hall,’’ Mr Beale said.

A community association owns the building,  which  requires about $7000 a year to maintain in condition.

■The Redman gardens are open 10am-4pm tomorrow. Admission: $10 for adults, school-age children  free.

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