The Australian Garden Show Sydney is on at Centennial Park on September 4-7, offering plenty of inspiration and information. It’s double the size of last year’s inaugural show and has 30 display gardens from awardwinning and emerging landscape designers, in categories such as Inspirational Gardens, City Gardens and Balcony Gardens. There are more than 80 talks on three stages, including Q&A sessions. The Grand Floral Pavilion will please cut-flower lovers, while children will enjoy aMaze, an exploratory activity area. There’ll be rare and new-release plants for sale, organic seeds and books. Tickets and program at australiangardenshowsydney.com.au.
In 2009 we reluctantly sold the smaller side of our double block in suburban Melbourne and determined to do something special with the remaining garden. We asked Phillip Johnson to help us and he installed a vertical garden in the courtyard area, and designed a new side garden of natives in wide beds with gravel paths. This is comparatively casual in style, with rocks interspersed to give height and interest. I’ve added some exotics that sit comfortably with the natives. The traditional plantings of standard roses, bearded irises, camellias and box hedges remain at the front of the Edwardian house.
The vertical garden of Australian native plants gives a delightful outlook from the house and lessens the impact of the newer development. It has a variety of foliage texture, and while never a blaze of colour, there’s always something flowering. We now realise how lucky we were to get Phillip Johnson before he won Best in Show at the Chelsea Flower Show last year.
We trained an existing standard wisteria across to give shade to an area that gets the full impact of midsummer heat but is completely shady in winter. Tanks were added to provide water for the garden.
Camellias, spring bulbs and natives such as thryptomene, correas, tea-tree and boronias.
The need to rethink our garden has been a wonderful, rewarding experience. It has become a smaller area but now has a more interesting and bigger range of plants. Like many gardens, it contains gifted plants, survivors, sentimental choices and mistakes that refuse to be eradicated (the Peruvian lilies and freesias). However the garden is such a source of pleasure there are no regrets and we excuse ourselves a few indulgences.