Gardening: A big show of happiness

“When visiting open gardens, look for simple ideas that have been used in parts of the garden,” writes CEDRIC BRYANT

A prize-winning garden at the Melbourne Garden Show… large round stepping stones lead the eye to a rather stunning orange coloured leaf sculpture.

A prize-winning garden at the Melbourne Garden Show… large round stepping stones lead the eye to a rather stunning orange coloured leaf sculpture.

 SPECTACULAR is the only word to describe the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

Classed as the largest flower show in the Southern Hemisphere it is easy to see why.

Set in the Carlton Gardens and the magnificent Royal Exhibition Building (constructed in 1880 and the first building in Australia to receive World Heritage listing), the most popular attraction is the Showcase Gardens. They are in two divisions; one for landscape designers to compete for prizes and promote their work, the other for “achievable” garden designs with ideas that can be translated into gardens for the average backyard.

The first category is similar to the showcase gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show; many of the ideas are totally impractical. However, ideas can be gleaned from maybe a part of the design, which could be used in your own garden.

Similarly, when visiting open gardens locally in the autumn, look for simple ideas that have been used in parts of the garden. This may be a gazebo, a water feature or simply an arrangement of plants for visual effect that would translate into your own garden.

One of the prize-winning gardens I have shown here illustrates a happy medium between the two categories. Large round stepping stones lead the eye to a rather stunning orange coloured leaf sculpture. This provides partial shade to the timber deck. With the garden on a slope, dry stone walls have been used, which look more natural when used without cement. Areas of lawn for children to play and a good selection of hardy plants complete the picture.

The “Dry Garden” at Lambley Nursery… the plants are only watered three to four times a year.

The “Dry Garden” at Lambley Nursery… the plants are only watered three to four times a year.

ON the way home from Melbourne we visited Lambley Nursery at Ascot, near Creswick in north-east Victoria, which is recognised throughout the gardening world here and overseas for its spectacular collection of more than 1000 varieties of perennial plants.

Nurseryman David Glenn and his artist wife, Criss Canning, purchased a hectare of barren land surrounding an 1870s farmhouse in 2002 on the hot, dry, windswept plains of the central Victorian goldfields.

Now divided into a series of “garden rooms”, the site has been transformed into a stunning display of perennial plants.

The couple breeds plants for tough, extreme conditions and most perennials live up to these conditions. For example, in the “Dry Garden” the plants are only watered three to four times a year.

I have voiced my opinion of the uncertainty of buying plants and bulbs from mail order houses. Having now inspected this nursery, its propagation of plants and the trial beds, I have no hesitation in recommending its plants/seeds ordered by mail or online.

 More information at lambley.com.au

 Jottings…

  • Add a handful of blood and bone to every few barrow loads of raked leaves to your compost heap for quicker composting.
  • Apply decking oil to outdoor timber furniture before winter.
  • Plant a few bulbs of the same variety every week rather than all in one go. This will extend the flowering season.
  • Place fine netting over fish ponds to stop autumn leaves accumulating on the bottom. Rotted leaves can kill fish.

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