Merryl likes to mix it in her blended garden

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Merryl Bradley… “I’m not a native purist, I believe in plants co-existing alongside each other.” Photo: Holly Treadaway.

SO-CALLED for its mix of natives and non-natives, as well as the seamless integration of old and new plantings, Merryl Bradley’s “blended garden” also combines veggie beds with striking foliage and ornamental shrubs carefully trimmed into curves.

“I’m not a native purist, I believe in plants co-existing alongside each other,” Merryl says. 

“There are so many beautiful Australian natives and non-natives, and gorgeous variations in foliage, there’s no reason why not.”

The garden, which has an easy flow from front to back through rock-lined paths, ferns, shady white cedar and flourishing natives, will be open to the public on the weekend of April 10-11.

It’s part of Open Gardens Canberra’s “dual delights” event with Christine Gascoyne’s garden, located just 200 metres away, at $15 to visit both. 

Merryl moved into the house 17 years ago and says she’s been gradually reducing the landscaped lawns ever since, starting with the front, though she’s kept a tiny patch in the back. 

A deciduous crabapple, malus trilobata, Merryl’s favourite, takes centre stage in the shady front garden and turns a beautiful deep red in autumn, planted next to a gleditsia sunburst, with mostly native groundcover underneath. Grevillea, correa, coprosma, camellia and creeping geebung line the surrounding beds. 

Photos: Holly Treadaway

Through a thick ficus hedge are raised veggie beds, a thriving blackberry vine, experimental potatoes and a laden kalamata olive tree, thanks to the veggie garden’s location in the full sun on the south side of the house. 

Equally loved by Merryl are the garden’s formal touches; English box and Double Delight roses sit alongside lobelia and Japanese maples that were original to the garden. 

“I think it’s a shame to pull out everything when you take over a garden, and it’s possible to work with some of what’s already there,” she says. 

“I like a lot of plants that might be considered old-fashioned, like the English yew and gorgeous little zinnias.”

Merryl also keeps an elderly, eight-year-old little bantam called Henny (her friend Penny is long gone) who is still laying.

“I’m a real composter, resuser and recycler, so all the garden waste gets mulched and thrown in the compost,” Merryl says.

The small garden is water-wise, too, with a total of 6000 litres of rainwater tanks.

Merryl’s mosaic art can be spotted all around the neat, structured garden, and she’ll be selling her mosaic plant pots and artworks on the open weekend.

The Blended Garden, 2 Corser Close, Fadden, April 10-11, 10am-4pm. Entry $10, children under 18 free. Bookings essential on Eventbrite. There will be no ticket sales or memberships available at the gate. Also open is Christine’s garden, 48 Weathers Street, Gowrie. Join Open Gardens Canberra for $25 and all gardens are free for a year.

Photos: Holly Treadaway

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist.

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