Absorbed by garden detail

When I take time out at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG), there are two major options. I can walk…and walk…and walk some more, relishing the big picture. The history of the garden and its inviting design. The great variety of plant species. The way the big old trees interact with newer or smaller ones and set off the sloping expanses of deep green lawns. Continue reading

Floods sweep away our garden

My husband and I live in the upper Tweed Valley, northern New South Wales on 5 acres. A major creek traverses our property. For the past 8 years we have regenerated our creek banks with native vegetation and landscaped and planted a mix of exotics and natives in our house yard garden, making around 2 acres in total that we maintain. Continue reading

Australian gardening inspiration from South Africa

To me, the essence of Australia is deep blue skies stretching as far as the eye can see; rich red soils bearing dry, oxidized iron; the distinctive blue-green foliage of Eucalyptus set amongst twisting, mottled-grey limbs; perhaps a small family of roos tucking into soft, long grass in its dappled shade. Nowhere else on earth will you come across a scene like this. Continue reading

Melbourne Flower Show matters – or does it?

In late March 2017 I, and many of Australia’s horticultural media, landscape designers, landscapers, horticulturists and garden lovers, made our annual pilgrimage of to the autumn Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS). With nine big display gardens, five boutique gardens and 12 small student-built achievable gardens on show, I was eager to see what was on offer at MIFGS in 2017 and who had won what. Continue reading

Does an Australian garden style exist?

Does an Australian garden style exist? In the post WW11 years some of our now most revered garden designers rebelled against imported garden design traditions and experimented with creating a nature based Australian style. Ellis Stones and Gordon Ford from Victoria and Jean and Betty Maloney from NSW created unique interpretations of an Australian Style garden replicating the Australian landscape by utilizing rocks, water and the Australian bush. Continue reading

How to inspire ‘millennials’ to garden

As Baby Boomers continue to retire and downsize, a new generation of gardeners – the much-maligned Millennials – is poised to pick up where the Boomers have left off. They’re ready and able to grab a shovel, to grow their own food, and to decorate their own spaces – be it a backyard garden in the burbs’ or a studio apartment in the city – with funky and functional plants.  They just don’t know it yet. Continue reading

A garden for the Queen: Château de Tarascon

In the years of the 15th C before France was consolidated as a nation by a succession of kings the country was ruled and contested by several Royal houses vying for supremacy among them those based in Naples, Provence, Aragon, Savoy, Sicily and Anjou. Between them they parlayed and sought alliances with bigger powers, particularly the Holy Roman Empire and the Papal State. Continue reading

What defines the ultimate garden visitor experience?

Gardens are as much emotional constructs as aesthetic compositions.” Ogden and Ogden

I’ve always been attracted to the idea of gardens with ‘soul’. I’m amazed how a seemingly perfectly designed garden can leave me absolutely cold but another with supposed imperfections here, there and everywhere can have the most profound effect on me. Continue reading

Berber home and garden, Morocco

East of Marrakech, over Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, a desert landscape riddled with spectacular gorges and valleys presides. At the time of my visit in November, snow-capped peaks rendered this ancient land of Berbers even more panoramic. In their pink and red-hued villages, built so clearly from the earth right there, dwell a truly hospitable people. I had the good fortune to visit the home and garden of one Berber family. Continue reading

This land is MY land, all mine!

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about what it means, as a gardener, to actually own my own piece of property. Sometimes when I am taking my vegetable scraps out to the compost heap, following a route that spans the full expanse of my backyard, I marvel at the fact that the entire vast swath is mine to do with as I wish. Continue reading

Review: ‘Dream Gardens’ on ABC TV

When I first heard that someone was going to make a new Australian TV show about gardening, I was amazed. Then excited. Then cynicism started to creep in. Would it be another quickie makeover show? A dumbed-down ‘reality’ show filled with manufactured drama? Then I heard Michael McCoy was the presenter and I breathed a great sigh of relief because I knew he wouldn’t have anything to do with either of those. Continue reading