The Weekend Australian - Life - - GARDENING -

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.

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