Elsie and Henry Mahon: Garden of the Year, 2021

Elsie and Henry Mahon: Garden of the Year, 2021

Elsie and Henry Mahon of Parkes are the winners of the Central West Mums’ 2021 Garden of the Year award, with the beautiful garden ‘Zephranthe’ they created from scratch 15 years ago using Elsie’s design skills and both Elsie and Henry’s capable hands. I chatted with Elsie to discuss her garden, and to find out a little more about her.

How long have you lived in Parkes now, Elsie?

I’ve lived in Parkes for about 50 years. I’m nearly a local now, I reckon!

I’m told you purchased an old house on a double block, demolished part of the house then started the garden from scratch. This sounds like a lot of hard work!

That was 15 or 16 years ago, yes. It was a lot of work but we were a bit younger then. We both love pottering around and I particularly love gardening, and gardening design. I do garden design for other people as well, and I always try to make gardens really interesting so you don’t see everything from the front gate.

It’s great that you use a lot of recycled materials in your garden. Can you tell us about some of the materials you used, and where you found them?

Well, I designed a garden for the undertakers here in Parkes a few years ago, and they had some big sandstone blocks in their foyer that they wanted to get rid of, so I took those. We also found some old fence posts – barely sugar ones that we welded together – they’re so easy for climbers to grow on. And we used old army huts to make the pergola.

You’re also an artist, and I know some of your sculptures feature in your garden. Can you tell me a bit more about your art?

I belong to a pottery group, we meet every Tuesday – COVID permitting. I also paint, sculpt, and make mosaics. I just did a big commission for the preschool with another two artists and made a clay sculpture with the bottom half mosaic. I have some of my sculptures in my garden, and some friends have my pieces around the place. I also sell a lot of my pieces.

Anywhere we can check out your art online?

No, I’m not an online girl at all. I don’t even have a mobile, my kids hate it.

What do you like most about Parkes?

It’s a lovely community with very friendly people. It’s particularly good if you get involved in the community, which I do. [Henry and I] really enjoy living here, we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. It does get a little bit hot, but it’s always “too” something – too hot or too cold – no matter where you live!


Denise Mills

Denise Mills is a writer and accountant based in Central West NSW. Her words have featured in The Guardian, Brevity, Epoch and more.

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