Memory bank

Large banks of hardy plants evoke the informality of this colonial homestead's original garden
Story by: Alison Wall
Exterior view of a window in this colonial-styled facade, flower, home, house, plant, tree, window, brown, orange
Exterior view of a window in this colonial-styled architectural home with planters.

Should a heritage garden reflect the fashion of the age, with every detail intact, or is it better to evoke the spirit of the times?

For this garden, a low-maintenance design that would complement the colonial architecture of the 1840s homestead was needed, says landscape designer John Patrick.

"I set out to give the sense of an early pioneer's cottage, with planting that was not too formal, and that would be similar to the kind of garden the wife of a farmer might create," he says.


View of garden which features an antique fountain backyard, botanical garden, garden, grass, landscape, landscaping, outdoor structure, plant, tree, walkway, yard, brown
View of garden which features an antique fountain made from reproduced cast iron and finished with a copper-based paint and acid wash. It is positioned above a fish pond.

Other elements that dictated the design were the loamy soil and the climate with only 43cm of rainfall annually, baking summers and exposure to strong winds, the plants needed to be hardy and drought tolerant. Patrick has planted banks of tough succulents, Mediterranean and herbaceous plants, such as sea lavenders, penstemons, sedums, Euphorbia x martini and Bignoneaceae podranea.

"In the nineteenth century, the planting would have been more spotty, with more specimen plants. I like to plant big drifts of plants, with plenty of contrasting colour and texture, and underpin them with silver-leafed plants," he says. "Silver provides a repeating element, and is a nice foil for most other colours except yellow and orange."

In keeping with the home's colonial heritage, the hard landscaping is modest. Timber edging and gravel are accentuated by box hedging, which adds further definition and clarity.

One of the earliest homesteads in Victoria, this door, estate, home, porch, real estate, structure, window, brown
One of the earliest homesteads in Victoria, this rural, once derelict property has been restored to its original state, and a glazed extension added for day-to-day living.

"A particular feature of the scheme is the use of hardy Japanese grasses," says Patrick. "And as this is a windy site, it made sense to use plants that accentuate the movement of the wind."

Beyond the flower garden is a rural, park-like landscape that attracts a wide variety of bird life.

Mar 11, 2009

Credit list

Maintenance horticulturalist
Kerry Mewett
Fountain
Antique
Plants
Plantmark, Lambley Nursery
Landscaping and walling
Garden Unity
Gates and fencing
Glass from South Melbourne Glass
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