Grave concerns for Sorensen's Nursery

It’s already been subdivided, but there are now concerns the historic Sorensen’s Nursery site in Leura’s Poplar Street, with the original arboretum and gardens, continues to deteriorate.

Leura architect Ian McMillan and Leura Village Association secretary Helen Caughey have concerns for the Leura nursery of acclaimed garden designer Paul Sorensen. It was home to flowering cherries, beeches, maples, dry-stone walls and waterfalls but its garden and the hanging swamp has been degraded.

Leura architect Ian McMillan and Leura Village Association secretary Helen Caughey have concerns for the Leura nursery of acclaimed garden designer Paul Sorensen. It was home to flowering cherries, beeches, maples, dry-stone walls and waterfalls but its garden and the hanging swamp has been degraded.

Paul Sorensen, photographed by Harold Cazneaux, 1936.

Paul Sorensen, photographed by Harold Cazneaux, 1936.

The nationally acclaimed Sorensen’s Nursery was founded in the 1920s and was home to one of Australia’s greatest landscape gardeners, Paul Sorensen, where he grew seedlings and offered design and maintenance services. 

Sorensen designed many notable gardens in the Mountains, including his most famous garden, Everglades at Leura.

But Leura architect Ian McMillan said the area had become degraded over several decades after many developers had owned the land, and he remained concerned about its future.

He will have a petition to bring more awareness to the site at the Leura Harvest Festival this Saturday.

Mr McMillan said the Danish-born master gardener’s property was placed on the National Estate Register by the Australian Heritage Commission back in 1993. 

“Regrettably this organisation was disbanded by the Howard government and, for whatever reason, the responsibility of this valuable property was passed on to the Blue Mountains City Council to carry out,” Mr McMillan said.

“Submissions have been lodged with council demanding that no modifications to the strata subdivision of the townhouses and the existing community title subdivision be considered until restoration of the arboretum and hanging swamp has taken place to a satisfactory level.”

“Why has council placed so little importance on such an important heritage property?”

Mr McMillan has even written to Crown Princess Mary of Denmark for help.

Leura Village Association secretary Helen Caughey, a horticulturalist, shares his concerns. “We don’t like seeing this kind of degradation, this is the guy who set the tone for gardens in the Mountains ... it’s the loss of a heritage landmark.”

But Jaymay Developments project manager Michael Sahyoun, who is finalising the 20 townhouses on the site, said they were fulfilling all the requirements of the council development application and were in the process of restoring the property.

“There were three other owners before we over 15 years,” he said, adding when they took on the property it was “20 per cent completed and it is now at 80 per cent”.

Any community concerns would be quelled over the next year when the development would be finished.

“There’s a conservation management plan for the property. Some areas have not been attended to, but they are going to be attended to. We are finishing it in different sections, we are going to restore the property,” Mr Sahyoun said.

A council spokeswoman said the work was “currently proceeding in accordance with the terms of the development consents, which include the ongoing restoration of the arboretum and removal of weeds from the site.”

She said the site would “not be finalised until all works are completed in accordance with the court-issued consent and to the council’s satisfaction”.

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