Fiona Brockhoff has become synonymous with environmentally sustainable coastal garden design in southern Australia, and with good reason. Her adventurous use of native plants like clipped casuarina topiary, mixed with exotic succulents and a range of textured grasses gives her gardens a very distinctive flavour. In her own garden and the adjoining neighbour’s garden in windswept coastal southern Victoria, the colours are muted grey, silver and olive green, mixed with innumerable found objects.
Most of the gardens survive on the rain nature sends them, and relatively low maintenance, with the exception of her extensive vegetable garden and adjoining vineyard. Fiona’s own garden is crowded with objects everywhere you look, hanging in trees and stacked in corners, from smooth glassy spheres and bottles that contrast with the ropey bark of surrounding trees, to collections of whatever the sea has thrown up on the local shore – driftwood and shells of course, but also rubber thongs (jandals/flip flops) and rusty tools. Although if it were mine I’d run amok throwing things out, I can see the intensity of connection with her local landscape shining through, making this a very personal garden.
One of the most astonishing sculptural elements are towering spires of stacked rocks that sway in the breeze – a fascinating contradiction of their apparent weight.
I visited these gardens as part of the Australian Landscape Conference garden tour.
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