The gar­dener’s bucket list: Lam­b­ley Gar­dens & Nurs­ery

The spec­tac­u­lar dis­play of flow­ers and fo­liage at Lam­b­ley in­cludes care­fully se­lected rare plants from around the world, writes AB BISHOP

Gardening Australia - - CONTENTS -

Ap­proach­ing Lam­b­ley Gar­dens & Nurs­ery, you may ques­tion your nav­i­ga­tion skills – all around you are flat pad­docks, cu­ri­ous cows and sheep, with nary a world-class gar­den to be seen. Fi­nally, a sign in­di­cates your suc­cess­ful ar­rival, and so be­gins your un­der­stand­ing of why this gar­den in re­gional Vic­to­ria is so revered.

En­trance is via a long, gravel drive­way flanked by an av­enue of flow­er­ing cher­ries (Prunus ser­ru­lata ‘Mt Fuji’) un­der­planted with aga­pan­thus. There’s still lit­tle hint of the vis­ual feast be­yond dense Euro­pean privet hedges (Li­gus­trum vul­gare) that de­fend against blast­ing winds, de­fine var­i­ous gar­den rooms, and pro­vide a sim­ple back­drop for what is es­sen­tially a se­ries of ex­quis­ite liv­ing paint­ings.

Lam­b­ley was de­vised, de­signed and cre­ated by plants­man David Glenn and artist Criss Can­ning. They pur­chased the 16ha old po­tato farm in 1991, restor­ing a di­lap­i­dated farm­house and de­vel­op­ing a gar­den us­ing dis­cern­ing com­bi­na­tions of frost- and drought-hardy plant va­ri­eties.

Ad­ja­cent to the house, a wood­land gar­den sur­round­ing a tree-dot­ted lawn show­cases helle­bores, irises and blue­bells. In the walled front gar­den, a ma­ture maple, daphnes and abun­dant glad­i­oli, salvias, roses and lilies sig­nal the sea­sons with dy­namic dis­plays. “I love the com­ing and go­ing of fo­liage and flow­ers; I don’t want a static gar­den,” says David, who main­tained his very first gar­den at eight years of age.

To de­velop a beau­ti­ful and sus­tain­able gar­den, David has col­lected seed legally from coun­tries with a sim­i­lar cli­mate to Lam­b­ley’s. Plants from as far afield as south­ern Europe, Morocco, Greece, Syria, Tur­key, Palestine, Is­rael, Afghanistan, Kur­dis­tan, Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona, Mex­ico, Chile, South Africa and China (among oth­ers) are tri­alled for five years in sur­round­ing pad­docks to as­cer­tain their wor­thi­ness for in­clu­sion in the dis­play gar­dens. “They should be long-flow­er­ing, eas­ily grown, with ap­peal­ing pro­por­tions,” says David.

Through­out the year, thou­sands of ju­di­ciously se­lected beau­ties flaunt their sea­sonal glory. Win­ter vis­i­tors de­light in sweet and cheery daf­fodils, aconites and snow­drops, while spring brings lilacs, clema­tis and so many tulips you’ll think you’ve fallen into a rain­bow.

Sum­mer and au­tumn show­case myr­iad botan­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties of what gar­den­ers can achieve in a hot, dry sum­mer cli­mate with frosty win­ters and blustery winds. No more ex­cuses for shabby gar­dens!

Me­an­der­ing, cam­era at the ready, you dis­cover the large or­ganic veg­etable and flower-cut­ting gar­den, with el­e­ments pur­pose­fully echo­ing Monet’s gar­den at Giverny (see the Fe­bru­ary is­sue for more on that). It in­spires with its or­der­li­ness and mass plant­ings.

A rarely ir­ri­gated ‘dry gar­den’ is a masterclass in plant po­si­tion­ing and con­trast. Within what is es­sen­tially a 20m x 50m flower bed, ma­ture olive trees be­come sil­very ex­cla­ma­tion marks jux­ta­posed against a ca­coph­ony of colour. Na­tive birds dart ev­ery­where.

In­spired vis­i­tors may pur­chase seed, bulbs or seedlings of Lam­b­ley’s or­na­men­tal and pro­duce plants on­site or via mail or­der. Two of the many plants David has bred that are pop­u­lar world­wide are Agas­tache ‘Sweet Lili’ (named af­ter his grand­daugh­ter) and Euphor­bia x mar­tinii ‘As­cot Rain­bow’, which was recog­nised with an Award of Gar­den

Merit from the UK’s Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety in 2015. I chal­lenge any­body to walk away empty-handed!

Lam­b­ley owner David Glenn in the wood­land gar­den, where guided guests can de­light in the sea­sonal dis­plays of granny’s bon­nets (Aqui­le­gia spp.), helle­bores (Helle­borus spp.) and blue­bells (Hy­acinthoides spp.). LEFT

LAM­B­LEY GAR­DENS & NURS­ERY in As­cot, Vic­to­ria

CLOCK­WISE FROM MAIN A per­gola cov­ered with trum­pet vine (Camp­sis rad­i­cans), framed by wig­wams of Clema­tis ‘Golden Tiara’; blue Echinops ban­nati­cus con­trasts with yel­low Achil­lea ‘Corona­tion Gold’; the or­ganic vegie patch; bee­hives with blue Ros­mar­i­nus o cinalis ‘Mozart’ in the fore­ground.

CLOCK­WISE FROM LEFT Olives pro­vide a uni­form struc­ture against the ever-chang­ing fo­liage and flower com­bi­na­tions in the gar­den; a mass plant­ing of the beau­ti­ful red-flow­er­ing Tulipa eich­leri; a view through an ar­bor re­veals a bor­der brim­ming with flow­ers.

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