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