One of the great privileges of my work as a garden writer and garden tour leader is spending time in other people’s gardens. Often I don’t want to leave. Here are a few places I had to drag myself away from in 2022.
A rose garden
Picardy is the garden of Marian and Bryce Somes in the rolling hills behind the little village of Neerim South in Victoria. It is a romance of roses inspired by French country gardens. The roses jostle with self-sown foxgloves, valerian and aquilegia, clamber over arches and frames and spill their petals over the steps and pathways. It’s all deliciously fragrant and out of control in the best possible way. I haven’t visited with a group since before COVID and enjoyed it more than ever. See more in Marian’s 2018 book, ‘Picardy’.
A tucked-away terrace
A curved wall of upcycled terracotta drainage pipes encloses a cosy terrace of crushed gravel and large stone pavers at garden designer Jo Ferguson’s Flinders garden on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. On a circular concrete hearth sits a rescued Copper Art fireplace. Around it are terracotta pots of sun-hardy plants. A narrow path through floaty grasses and perennials leads into the rest of the garden. Seated on a low wooden lounge, you can see out into the garden but feel completely hidden away.
Jo Ferguson’s terrace.Credit:Robin Powell
A DIY wetland
After three years of La Nina we all know which bits of the garden are soggy. John Elton looked at the bog in his backyard, at Coolangatta in the Shoalhaven and saw an opportunity rather than a problem. He picked up his spade and hand-dug channels, piling the earth up to make islands, so that he now has a wetland of native sedges and rushes and flowering water plants thriving in ribbons around grassy mounds. There is a chorus of frogs. One of Elton’s other passions is grevilleas – see his work at Illawarra Grevillea Park in Bulli.
A view of the lake
Garden designer Brendan Moar bought a fibro fisherman’s shack just under the bridge at Burrill Lake on the NSW South Coast and after a complete reno that retained the old house’s charm, it is now all about the view of the lake. It stretches from the edge of the deck over a narrow band of lawn and the reed-edged shallows all the way to the sunset. A fire pit sits off to one side, there’s a low bench right on the water’s edge and an invitation to walk right into the lake. My tour group enjoyed a champagne supper as the sun set and the pelicans landed. You can do it yourself: Mary’s Place is on AirBnB.
Mary’s place.Credit:Robin Powell
A white garden
David Glen is one of our leading plantsman, a national treasure of horticultural and botanical knowledge. His garden at Lambley Nursery outside Ballarat is full of fascinating plants, but the most satisfying part of his garden is the most botanically simple. A double avenue of ornamental pears meets overhead to form a kind of cathedral space. A grass path leads through it to a wooden bench. In autumn the beds on both sides of the path are a riot of glowing white windflowers. Light filters through the pears and ripples over the nodding, shimmering flowers: it’s a mesmerising dance.
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