Family ends love affair with garden

WHEN Karen Hall was diagnosed with an inherited heart condition 18 months ago, it made her re-evaluate life.

It had only been a few years since that same heart condition had taken her 33-year-old sister and contributed to the death of her 42-year-old brother.

It is also part of the reason why Karen, her husband Peter Cooper and their two children Holly, 17, and Louis, 15, have decided to put their much-loved and internationally recognised home - Wychwood Garden and Nursery at Mole Creek - on the market.

The family's story started 21 years ago when the couple, then in their mid-20s, sold their Brisbane home and headed south.

``We sent all our things down to Hobart thinking that we'd end up there, then drove around the state and that's when we fell in love with the Meander Valley,'' Ms Hall said.

Ms Hall and Mr Cooper bought the one-hectare  Den Road property the same day they arrived in the valley, but it was completely different back then.

``It was literally a house in a paddock,'' Mr Cooper said.

``But within a couple of years we started tinkering around and gained confidence in gardening and at the same time, we were working as gardeners to make an income.

``Anyone could buy a lawn mower and mow some lawns then so we started that up as a business.''

It was from working in other gardens in the Meander Valley that the couple decided ``we could do it ourselves with the block of land we had''.

``I also thought, if we have kids I'd like to be at home and so that's when we started the nursery,'' Ms Hall said.

Since that day almost 18 years ago, Wychwood has grown rapidly and has appeared in Country Style  magazine, Country Gardens , a Japanese garden magazine, and been featured on television programs Garden Gurus  and Better Homes and Gardens .

Why then has the family decided to put the land up for sale?

``The time was just right for us, we're both very creative, and it's been incredible creating this, but now we've reached our limits and we're just maintaining it,'' Ms Hall said.

She said several other factors had contributed, especially her diagnosis with a heart disease.

``It required me to be transformed into a bionic woman,'' Ms Hall said.

``I now have a defibrillator installed, it's a bit like a pacemaker but it has the capability of delivering an electric shock if I go into cardiac arrest.

``I'm well with it, but anyone who is caused to question their mortality at anytime of their life, knows it makes you look at things slightly differently.''

Ms Hall said her condition made her feel tired easily.

``But I'm also in my late 40s so it could be to do with that too,'' she laughed.

Mr Cooper said the family would look for a house in Launceston, so Holly was closer to her school   and Louis was closer to his friends.

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