Catherine StewartWalcott Garden

The Walcott’s garden in Canberra is a perfect example of how a large garden should be designed and planted. Big gardens need larger plants and bold, flowing shapes, as most of the plants and features are viewed from a distance of many metres. It’s quite different to designing a usual quarter acre (1000 sqm) block or a small garden, and it takes skill to both make it a visual feast at that distance but also interesting to stroll about and explore.

A tapestry of form, foliage and flowers when viewed from a distance

A tapestry of form, foliage and flowers when viewed from a distance

The Walcott’s have been developing this garden in Canberra’s Red Hill for many years. Although it’s predominantly a garden of Australian native plants, it’s not a purist’s garden, as Rosalind and Benjamin are quite happy to include plants from other countries (often of the same genera, like Leptospermum) if it suits their design intent. Several older non-native trees that were on the property have also been retained to keep essential structure, mass and shade in the front garden. Plants are massed and mounded, or singled out as specimen planting when their form, foliage or flowers warrants it.

Leptospermum, both Australian and New Zealand with purple mintbush (Prostanthera)

Leptospermum, both Australian and New Zealand with purple mintbush (Prostanthera)

Australian native plants tend to have more subtle colours and finer textures than exotics, so building form, and foliage and flower colour contrasts into a planting design takes a practised eye. As you’re planting shrubs, even fast growers take some time to develop so it can be a slow and difficult process unless you really think it through – something at which the Walcotts are obviously very good.

Canberra has cold winters with regular frosts, just over 600mm (24″) rain annually, warm to hot summers and heavy clay soil.

The Walcott’s garden was open in late October 2013 through Open Gardens Australia.

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Catherine Stewart

About Catherine Stewart

Award-winning garden journalist, blogger and photographer; writer for garden magazines and co-author of 'Waterwise Gardening'; landscape designer turned landscape design judge and critic; compulsive networker and lover of generally putting fingers in lots of pies. Particularly mud pies. Creator, curator and editor of GardenDrum. Sydney, NSW.

One thought on “Walcott Garden

  1. paul on said:

    Walcott is a beautiful garden and worth a visit when open. I visited and had it photographed a few years ago for the mag I was editing but unfortunately left before writing it up. The photos were relegated to the “not pretty” bin after I had left – a shocking misjudgement in my view as it has so many beautiful design features and unusual plants used incredibly well. As you say, Catherine, colour is used subtly. What a shame there are still people incapable of seeing beauty in our native plants.

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