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FEATURE LISTING: Gardener’s dream in Mount Barker

South Australian gardening identity Sophie Thomson is selling her character cottage home and magnificent garden featuring more than a hundred varieties of fruit trees and romantic country styling.

Situated in the picturesque Mount Barker countryside, Hamlyn Cottage at 394 Springs Road offers a dream lifestyle for an avid gardener.

Around 10 years ago, Australian horticulturalist Sophie Thomson purchased the four-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage and lovingly transformed the surrounding land into an enchanting garden.

Hamlyn Cottage was originally built not long after South Australia was settled in 1847. Over time it had turned to ruins, but the previous owner fully restored it to its former glory and added an award-winning, heritage-compliant modern extension for wet areas.

“Because we didn’t do the restorations, I like to joke to people and say we moved into a brand-new 1847 home,” Sophie says.

The cottage interior features rustic stone and polished timber which creates a homely, old-world character.

“It is not necessarily a big home, but it is very country,” Sophie says. “I love stone homes because I think they’ve got a lot of character.”

“My favourite thing is looking out the French windows and into the garden, because everywhere you look you get a beautiful view.”

As gorgeous as the home is, it’s Sophie’s well-known garden that makes the property truly special.

“It has been a very public property because everybody has seen the transformation,” Sophie says.

“There was a book written about it called Sophie’s Patch, which was all about starting a patch from scratch and the process you go through on any property to develop it.”

The property started as a home on an empty plot of land – an exceptionally large and exciting project for Sophie to undertake.

“It was literally plonked in the middle of the paddock with nothing around it,” Sophie says.

Sophie’s passion for gardening began when she was very young as she spent her childhood surrounded by plants.

“I grew up in a plant nursery, so my parents were nurserymen, and as much as I tried to escape it and try other things for a few years, I ended up back in it,” Sophie says.

The garden surrounding the cottage blooms with biodiversity, sprouting colour and beauty year-round while encouraging birds, bees, butterflies and other native fauna.

At this time of year, wallflowers, French lavender, marguerite daisies and blossoms fill the garden with colourful splendour.

“It has what I would call a country-style cottage garden or romantic country garden around the old stone home,” Sophie says.

The garden produces an abundant harvest, with more than one hundred netted fruit trees and large vegetable patches.

“It’s important to live sustainably and, to me, the easiest and most obvious thing to do is garden,” Sophie says.

“Not only does it feed us literally and emotionally, but it is also essential for our health and wellbeing.”

Sophie constructed a wildlife corridor in the garden and – within twelve months – the garden was named a butterfly site by the Butterfly Conservation Society of South Australia.

“Because I’m an organic gardener, it is not perfect, but it has got lots of fabulous beneficial bugs and lots of birds,” says Sophie.

The resulting two-acre garden has drawn thousands of guests over the past seven years to attend Open Gardens at Sophie’s Patch.

“Because we’ve been doing all these public events here, we have been producing a lot of fruits and veggies and turning them into cakes, which people who have come to the events have had the opportunity to try,” Sophie says.

Visitors who have been entertained in Sophie’s kitchen marvel at the relaxed, country feel of the space.

“People would come into the kitchen and have a coffee or a piece of cake and they’d always be taking photos in the kitchen because it has a great feel,” Sophie says.

This is the third garden Sophie has created, and she believes the time has come to start afresh and develop another beautiful landscape.

“If you’re a gardener, you finish one project and you’re looking for another,” Sophie says.

“I am still young enough to have another big, audacious garden project in me.

“The reality is, I’m excited to create a new garden and somebody will get the opportunity to move in and love this garden as much as we have.”

Sophie believes the home will be perfect for a family of any size, saying it perfectly accommodated her family of seven, but it would also make a cosy home for a couple.

“Nobody is going to take it on if they don’t love gardening,” Sophie says. “If someone loves gardening, it’ll be a wonderful property.”

The sale is being handled by James Sexton of Sexton Glover Watts Real Estate.