We found plenty of inspiration on our Ross Garden Tour of country Victoria last spring.
Here are a few of our favourite ideas – all worth including in your own garden.
Words and pictures by Robin Powell
Cruden farm cutting garden.
Flowers to pick
One of the many rewards of gardening is being able to fill the house with fresh foliage and flowers. For some gardeners this is not just a treat, but an
essential part of the garden. Dame Elisabeth Murdoch certainly thought flowers for the house were indispensable so turned the kitchen garden at Cruden
Farm into a mass of roses, foxgloves, dahlias and other perennials, set into the disciplined order of beds divided by straight paths. Lollipop honeysuckles
stand sentinel at the corners of these beds. These plants were developed from cuttings taken from an old honeysuckle found on the farm. They have been
grown on supports with the lower branches removed to reveal tough twisted trunks topped with a fragrant burst of bloom.
Chris and John Collingwood’s garden on the Mornington Peninsula
The bunches picked for the house from Cruden Farm would be a romantic mix of colours and scent with a cottage feel. A much more modern bunch would be picked
from the picking garden of Chris and John Collingwood’s garden on the Mornington Peninsula, where bold colours and forms, such as bird of paradise,
leucadendrons and purple smoke bush suit the modern interiors of the house.
Lambley Nursery in Central Victoria
The wonderful blooms at Lambley Nursery in Central Victoria are picked for a different purpose. Plantsman extraordinaire David Glenn grows blooms that
his artist wife Cris Canning captures in her artworks. Shown here is Gladiolus communis, the Byzantine gladdie, which David has planted in drifts near
cultivars of Salvia nemorosa, whose blue flowers pick up the blue tonings in the vivid gladiolus, in a way that shows that both partners in this marriage
are artists, working in different mediums.
Paul Bangay’s country garden Stonefields has some facinating scultural elements
Trash and treasure
Paul Bangay’s country garden Stonefields is astonishing in its scale, attention to detail and phenomenal finish. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t great
ideas for the much more humble suburban gardener. One is the way Paul has unified the colour used for all of the woodwork in the garden. Everything
is painted a blue developed by Paul, ‘to bring the sky into the garden’. When the garden was first planted out, Paul told us that he had the sense
that the garden was earthbound and unconnected to the sky. To bring the two spheres together he painted the features blue. Now, with the trees grown
and the plantings matured, the blue still echoes the sky, as well as the blue tones used in plantings through the garden.
Clematis amid the wisteria at Stonefields
Another take-home idea from Stonefields is the clever repurposing of this wonderful sculpture. Paul says that as a teenager he hankered after an antiquity
to call his own. Without the wherewithal to fund that kind of investment, he instead took the opportunity offered when the local church replaced its
concrete sculpture of Jesus with something a bit more upmarket. Paul nabbed the discard, removed its head and arms, and had himself an instant antiquity,
which has only gained in dignity as it has aged outdoors.
Ballarat garden designer, Kylie Rose takes a different approach to trash and treasure.
Kylie Rose, a garden designer around Ballarat, takes a different approach to trash and treasure. In her eyes everything can be put to good use and her
garden is a trove of witty repurposing. Shown here is the simple arc mesh fence given a decorative turn with the use of rusted and partly-rusted cake
racks. Elsewhere, Kylie has cactus in abandoned bathrooms sinks, cordylines in tin garbage cans, and a uniquely Australian version of a walled rose
garden, where rusted corrugated iron forms the warmly coloured walls that backdrop Australian rose breeder Alister Clark’s best blooms.
Broughton Hall in Gippsland
David Musker, the man behind the extraordinary Broughton Hall in Gippsland, is a big fan of the tradition of Welcome Pots, a stylish grouping of plants
by the front door. The arrangement allows for showing off some treasures, for introducing visitors to what they might expect from the rest of the garden,
and for playing with texture and colour and form in a limited area. David uses a mix of textures in the pots but keeps the colours of the plants controlled
within a spectrum of white and red flowers and green foliage, highlighted with silver and purple. He changes up the display seasonally, or as the mood
David Glenn's pots at Lambley
At Lambley, David Glenn has a collection of pots dominated by the easy-care variety of succulents, with the explosive volume of euphorbias zooming into
view in the spring. The colours are a lovely match with the rough-hewn bluestone and old red brick of the house.
Pots at Picardy
At Picardy, Marian Somes reminds us that a pot can be anything at all, even an old bathtub, which makes a home for a tumble of white petunia and seaside
daisy by the door into the dairy.
Come with us
Robin Powell will lead a tour around regional Victoria in November, exploring some great gardens. To join her, call Ross or Royce on 1300 233 200.