Wildest Dreams A splendid country property seen through the lens of a passionate garden photographer.
In her new book, Dreamscapes, garden photographer Claire Takacs presents her current crop of favourites. Here’s her take on a stunning scheme by Australian designer Michael McCoy.
Michael McCoy is one of Australia’s most talented and plant-driven garden designers, and he’s teamed with veryhands-onownerstocreatethisstunningperennial garden in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges.
The garden is almost completely planted with exotic species, the plants selected based on their suitability to the environmental conditions. It’s a great example of the notion that plant performance is perhaps more important than geographical origin. Here, plants are in harmony with each other and the setting.
To me, this garden has an almost dreamlike quality through its beautiful use of colour. Clumping of species – with occasional taller emergents and the appearance of self-seeding species such as
Verbascum and Digitalis – is used to great effect.
Sweeps of key species are repeated throughout the space, deliberately bouncing left and right of the network of gravel paths, so that when any particular species is in bloom, it echoes around you and into the distance. This results in a real overall unity, but manages to avoid any monotony as there is a constant, subtle shift in the mix of plants at all times.
I enjoyed spending time with Michael in the garden in the evening, both with our cameras, waiting for the clouds to pass in order to capture the backlit golden Stipa gigantea. I loved the combination of this with the blue agapanthus.
I photographed this property in mid-February, at the end of a hot summer, so it’s amazing to see a garden thriving and with so much colour in this harsh environment. The light was perfect for photography, both in the evening and then again at sunrise, with just a hint of mist as the light began appearing through the trees bordering the garden.
Surrounding trees create a beautiful sense of enclosure for the garden, and I love the loosely framed but subtle views through the perennials and informal gravel paths out to the distant landscape. It’s also a stunning garden from above. Standing on a ladder at sunrise, I could appreciate the absolute beauty of this design.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP A seating nook surrounded by a sea of plants, including Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ and lime-green pokers ( Kniphofia ‘Lime Glow’). Seed heads of Miscanthus transmorrisonensis. The gravel path is made from crushed local rock and edged with Stipa gigantea, Penstemon ‘Blackbird’ and Sedum ‘Matrona’. Flower heads of blue agapanthus.
This is an edited extract from Dreamscapes by Claire Takacs, $70, published by Hardie Grant Books. Claire is a Melbourne-based garden photographer and regular contributor to
Australian House & Garden. Each year, she spends months abroad, capturing the world’s finest gardens through her lens. The book is a glorious pictorial survey of Claire’s favourites in Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK and Asia.