The gar­den

AN IN­FOR­MAL PEREN­NIAL GAR­DEN WITH FOR­MAL EL­E­MENTS AND PRO­DUC­TIVE AREA, BUILT FROM SCRATCH ON A TIGHT BUD­GET.

Gardening Australia - - GARDENER OF THE YEAR 2018 -

Who uses this gar­den?

My­self, my wife Libby, Lachie, 9, Maya, 5, and even­tu­ally Billy, born in Au­gust.

How old is it?

Six years old.

What was here to be­gin with?

A beau­ti­ful, 1868 run-down cot­tage on five acres (two hectares).

What at­tracted you to the site?

The prop­erty hadn’t been loved for a long time, but we could see it was a gem. It’s not far from where I grew up so I knew the area. I wanted a large gar­den.

Was the gar­den planned from the out­set? I mapped out what I thought it could be be­fore we moved. We knew we wanted ter­races and a kitchen gar­den. It’s sim­i­lar to the ini­tial de­sign.

Where do you draw in­spi­ra­tion from? Paul Ban­gay, Si­mon Grif­fiths, Peter Fudge and An­drew Laid­law. Work­ing at Paul Ban­gay’s gar­den, Stone­fields, for a few days was fan­tas­tic. Have you ever stud­ied gar­den de­sign or hor­ti­cul­ture?

I com­pleted a grad­u­ate cer­tifi­cate in gar­den de­sign at the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne’s Burn­ley cam­pus.

What is your favourite part of the gar­den?

I love the vegie patch, be­cause it’s or­na­men­tal and prac­ti­cal.

What is your favourite time of day in the gar­den?

My favourite time is in the morn­ing, with a cof­fee, when the kids are still asleep and it’s quiet!

De­scribe your main­te­nance sched­ule. Around 5–6am is a good time to wa­ter and weed the gar­den. I ap­ply ma­nure and mulch in spring. Then there’s the cut­ting back of all the peren­ni­als, and train­ing the top­i­ary and es­palier.

Is it ir­ri­gated or hand-wa­tered?

The gar­den is ir­ri­gated. We use bore wa­ter, which sup­plies about 3600L a day.

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What has been the tough­est chal­lenge? Man­ag­ing wa­ter has been the tough­est chal­lenge be­cause my eyes are big­ger than our tank! By the end of sum­mer

I let cer­tain things go, know­ing they’ll bounce back the fol­low­ing spring.

Does your gar­den pro­vide habi­tat for wildlife?

Heaps, in­clud­ing koalas and kan­ga­roos.

Do you do any re­cy­cling or up­cy­cling of ma­te­ri­als in your gar­den?

The fence around the vegie patch is old farm­ing mesh threaded with sticks. I made the dry-stone walls us­ing stone from the prop­erty. Have you al­ways loved the plants that make up the ma­jor­ity of your gar­den?

I wasn’t a rap for suc­cu­lents, but now I am. They’re eas­ily prop­a­gated, need min­i­mal wa­ter and look amaz­ing.

What has gar­den­ing taught you? Pa­tience, peace and how to be in the mo­ment, and also to think cre­atively.

To buy the top­i­ary corkscrews would have cost hun­dreds of dol­lars, but I’ve chipped away at them for five years.

What would you say to new gar­den­ers? Start with a plan and don’t feel that you have to spend a for­tune on plants, and en­joy all the sea­sons.

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