Category Archive: Gardens

Paul Bangay’s Stonefields

By Tim White.

Having booked tickets to see Paul Bangay’s “Stonefields” garden in support of Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Foundation (a not-for-profit charity that delivers food education to Australian children) a couple of months ago, we were looking forward to seeing this magnificent garden and hoping the weather would be kind to us. Fortunately we encountered a perfect day that was neither too hot nor raining and were able to enjoy the garden which is not usually open during Autumn. This meant we were able to see the beautiful trees transforming through their magnificent Autumn colours before they headed to their winter dormancy.

The land for Stonefields was purchased in 2003 and the villa and gardens completed in 2006. The design of the villa ensures that there are plenty of views of the exquisite gardens and beautiful Macedon Ranges through the use of terracing of the sloping property. The garden is surrounded by magnificent Manna Gums (Eucalyptus viminalis) up to 400 years old and blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) providing a wonderful backdrop to the enclosed garden once you are inside it.

The garden is divided into different rooms, each with its own theme but linked to the others with repeated shapes or plants. Hedges of Ligustrum vulgare (common privet), Crataegus (hawthorn), Prunus lusitanica (Portuguese laurel) and x Cupressocyparis leylandii (Leyland cypress) form the green walls of the rooms and these are meticulously trimmed by a full time gardener.

Walking through the entrance to the garden you first encounter a secluded courtyard the centrepiece of which is a square pond with a clipped box hedge in the middle. From there your eye is drawn to a perfectly circular hole in the hedge on the opposite wall that gives you glimpses of the villa enticing you to see what lies beyond.

The Blue Borders garden is just that – a beautifully laid out garden with blue flowered perennials framed with box hedge. Through the centre of the paving that steps down through terraces runs a simple stream that is interrupted by several snake sculptures spitting water, created by Melbourne based artist Ivana Perkins. This guides your eye to the front door of the villa which has snake door handles to complete the theme.

The tulip parterres garden is amazing with the precision and intricacy of the box hedging. This along with the rest of the garden changes with the seasons and would take on a completely different appearance at different times of the year – the tulips planted in this garden are dormant at the moment. Stonefields is a garden you could visit often and be surprised at the seasonal transformations and its changing appearance.

Other garden “rooms” at Stonefields include the Apple Walk, Rose Garden, Herb Garden, Veggie Garden and Pool Garden. If you get the chance and it opens again next time, I would highly recommend a trip out to Stonefields which is in Denver, about 80mins from Melbourne not far from Kyneton.

How to present the garden when selling property.

By James Wall.

Selling property is one of the biggest changes you will make in life. Whether it be the home you live in or an investment property, the main aim is to sell it for as much as possible.

Whilst many vendors are keen to de-clutter the house, employ a stylist and even hire furniture – not as many think about the garden and the value it can provide. The day comes to take the photos for the glossy brochures and that’s when any glaring omissions in the garden become plainly obvious.

When someone sees your property online, or they drive past, first impressions are important. Overgrown plants, weeds and empty pots can be a turn-off, and therefore one less potential buyer who may decide to take a look. Conversely, it can be another bargaining chip for an investor who just wants to hammer you for the lowest price, so they can make all the upside.

The investment required to to improve your garden quickly is minimal. Obviously a smaller courtyard garden is going to be easy to make a big difference, but even a large garden can undergo simple cosmetic changes and have great effect.

Here is a simple guide as to what a small budget would cost in terms of a percentage of sales:

Sell a property for 500,000 and spending $1000 on the garden is 0.2 percent of the sale

Sell a property for 750,000 and spending $1000 on the garden is 0.13 percent of the sale

Sell a property for 1 mill and spending $2000 on the garden is 0.2 percent of the sale

Sell a property for 1.5 million and spending $2000 on the garden is 0.13 percent of the sale.

Obviously, if you do the work yourself and spend the money on plants and materials, the effect will be even greater.

The reason I point these numbers out is that many people come into a nursery and want to tizzy up the garden for sale by spending just $300 or $400. They usually buy plants that are too small for the job and only half do the job.

Chinese Star Jasmine greets perspective buyers.

TIPS FOR BUYING PLANTS TO HELP SELL YOUR HOUSE

- Don’t necessarily come in with a pre-determined list – be flexible and consider alternatives if they are looking better. Often there are plants in season that are at there peak. Choose what is looking good.

- Include some flowering plants, especially for the front. This helps with that cheery feel – but don’t overdo it. Remember you can usually use plants in full flower as the campaign will usually only be for six weeks. Buy them in larger pots and expect to pay $15 each for some good ones.

- Use plants in larger pots – minimum 20cm diameter pots. Some bigger plants may cost $50 and a larger feature specimen may cost $150, buy this can still fit in a $1000 budget.

- Tell the nursery people what you are doing and ask if there are any larger type plants that are on special at the moment. Some things just give better bang for bucks.

- Mulching around plants with a natural coloured pine bark mulch can really finish off the look of freshly planted plants quite nicely. Up to 10 bags buy at a nursery but for bigger gardens consider getting a bulk load delivered for better value.

- Replace shabby plants in  pots that can’t be resurrected. This goes for herb gardens and vegetable gardens. If they look ordinary, you are not selling the dream. Advanced herbs are easy to get for between 7 and $15 but advanced vegetables are sometimes a bit harder to get. In warmer months lettuce grows very quickly and can be sourced in extra large cell punnets for around $10. Those 6 plants will grow surprisingly quickly and add to the effect.

EXISTING PLANTS

If you are not a gardener, start thinking like a gardener. Walk the whole property with a pair of secatuers and cut off any yellowing or dead leaves. It might just be 3 dead fronds off a tree fern, or a few yellow leaves on a hedge that dried out once or twice over summer. You want everything to look green. If you have enough time, apply liquid feed to your garden or throw down some fast acting granular fertiliser, but obviously not slow release fertiliser that will just take too long to react.

Dead head flowers that look finished or damaged. This will encourage new flowers. Strip old leaves off the bottom of agaves and cordylines.

Remove weeds.

Prune back big overgrown shrubs, especially in small gardens where you want to promote a sense of space.

Mow the lawn regularly but don’t cut too hard as this loses that luscious lawn look that we want.

Sweep or blow paths

MAINTENANCE

This is where most people get it wrong. Plants that have only recently been planted need regular watering. If you are not living at the property, you will need to check the watering at least 3 times per week – more in hot weather.

Water at the base of flowering plants so as not to wet the flowers. The flowers will then last twice as long.

Sweeping, raking and rolling up hoses. All those little things you do before the inspections will make a big difference.

Remember, that as well as watering for at least a month leading up to the sale – you may even need to maintain for another 90 days until settlement. This may be a challenge if you are not living in the house you are selling. It is common decency however to hand over the property in the same state as the buyer saw it, and that includes the garden.

FINALLY – WHAT IS UGLY ?

De-clutter – its just the same outside the house as in the house. Make it look clean and simple.

Get an independent person in and ask them what looks ugly in your backyard. Often its things you never noticed – like a damaged fence, rusted clothes line or sheet of corrugated steel at the back of your vegetable garden. Faded plastic kids toys are another ugly addition to many a back yard. Block it out, cover it, or get rid of it.

CONCLUSION

As you can see, none of this is hard. It is merely a list of achievable solutions to help improve the look of your garden. You’ll have it all ready for sale, it will look fantastic and you will think to yourself, “Why hasn’t it looked like that for the last 5 years”

But thats’s ok, don’t spend any more energy on this one, save it for the next one !

Cup Day at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

By James Wall.

What do you tell your children on your day off that you want to walk around the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne ?

You tell them we are going on a photographic assignment of course. One child gets the camera for half an hour and then the other child gets its for the next half an hour. When we get home, we have a slide show and see just what sort of pictures we have taken.

Yep, they liked the idea, so before they could change there mind we were in the car and on our way.

The weather was perfect and it was mid morning so there was still parking. The gardens had a real buzz about it. It reminded me of the first spring day at Central Park in New York. People were just bursting with energy to get out there. With Melbourne Cup on, there were somewhat annoying helicopters buzzing about the air like giant blow flies, but even these could not destroy the subtle euphoria that was in the air. It was a day to bump into an old friend out of the blue. It was a day to appreciate nature.

At some stage during the photography, a kids flick of the camera dial accidentally took 4 photos of everything, but with 3 of the photos being altered with special effects. I guess some of the greatest human creations were made by accident. Below are some of the results to our day out at the Botanic Gardens.

By the way, the cafe was excellent, the kids area was rocking with little boats running down the creek, the trees were ever majestic, so if you haven’t been to this wonderful place in a while, like I hadn’t, make sure you get down there soon – cause photos can never tell the full story.

 

 

The Yuyuan Gardens in the Old City of Shanghai.

Yuyuan Gardens

By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs.

Throughout my travels around China I had the opportunity to see a lot of different attractions and only a few gardens. Out of all the gardens I had the chance to visit this was by far my favourite and left me feeling the most impressed. This garden is beautifully landscaped with man-made hills that flow naturally into the scenery and has a great diversity of plants.

300 Year Old Wisteria

The Yuyuan Gardens are located in the Old City of Shanghai. As you wonder through these gardens there are many unique artistic styles to discover from the paintings to the placement of plants. I found myself excited to discover what may lie around every corner!

Yuyuan Gardens was first constructed during the Ming Dynasty, 1559, by Pan Yunduan. He wanted to build a garden for his father to comfort him in his old age. But the construction of the gardens was postponed for 18 years until 1577, due to Pan Yunduan being appointed as the new Governor of Sichuan.

Lotus plants.

Once the gardens were complete they were the most prestigious and largest gardens of their era in Shanghai. However, due to the expenses of the gardens the Pan family eventually fell to ruins. The Pan family was unable to keep up with the expenses of the gardens, so the gardens were passed on to new owners.

In the 19th century the gardens suffered damage from the First Opium War and the Taiping Rebellion, with almost all of the original structures completely destroyed. From 1956 – 1961 the gardens were repaired by the Shanghai Government, and were reopened to the public.

If you find yourself traveling to Shanghai in the near future I would highly recommend that you visit the Yuyuan Gardens. I only got to spend about an hour seeing these gardens but I would recommend spending a bit more time to absorb the beauty of this landscape.

Australian designer awarded medal at Chelsea.

For those without pay television, you may never have heard of Charlie Albone. He is a Sydney based Landscape Designer who is also one of the hosts of a TV show called Selling Houses Australia. Basically they do up a house, and his job is to fix up the garden – on a budget.

This time in real life however, this garden was on a different kind of budget! Charlie went to the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show and created a stunning little garden called, ‘The Time In Between’. His design as a space to tell his late father about his life since his passing. It is a space to reflect, contemplate, celebrate and enjoy life. His father died when he was 17.

The garden was awarded a Silver Gilt medal which is just one down from a gold. As you can see by these photos from the Royal Horticultural Society, the standard of workmanship and quality of plants in this garden were absolutely top quality and reinforces the exceptional standards that Australians set when they enter The Chelsea Flower Show.

The first section of the garden celebrates life with beautiful and romantic planting; the water feature in the next section reflects the emotions felt at the loss of someone close, as it can empty in a matter of seconds; and the rear of the garden is an intimate space to sit, connect and communicate with loved ones. The flowers include white aquilegia, purple iris and purple balls of allium or a flowering type of onion which look magnificent.

Although Charlie is an aussie now (we’ll claim him after this for sure) he actually was born in Hong Kong, Charlie and then moved to the UK when he was 12 years old. It was here that he developed a keen interest in landscapes and gardens. On leaving school, he landed a job maintaining the grounds of an English country manor. With no formal qualifications, he learnt on the job and worked for many UK landscaping companies before coming to Australia on a working holiday 12 years ago. He fell in love with the country and decided to further his education by gaining a Diploma In Horticulture And Landscape Design.

Congratulations Charlie. See his garden at the Chelsea website, or his own website Charlie at Chelsea.

photo copyright by kuva

Resonate

By James Wall.

It was with admiration for the level of participation in the creation of  what was standing before me. There were five days until the Garden Show started and lots of people were involved in getting it ready. These included the lads from Avoca Landscape Construction who were halfway through the mock bridge (I say mock bridge because there was to be no water under it, but Dichondra repens planted to look like water). A Semken staffer was pushing a wheelbarrow almost ‘walking the plank’ to get from one high point to another, and there were plants ready to be positioned in the space beside us. Carolyn Blackman from Vivid Design was forging on and all was good because apparently we were ahead of schedule; but who really knew what lay ahead…..These are the thoughts that go through your mind when building a show garden. By the time it is built, you clearly see all of its imperfections. You are intimate with it, and sometimes it can be your little place in heaven, but other times your nightmare. Everything you ever planned leading up to this project, is now being tested to the hilt. There are still a few magic tricks up your sleeve, but there is also reality.

……and the reality is, that some of the general public may say “it does nothing for me” whereas others and hopefully the majority say, “it’s beautiful, job well done”. None of them see it like you do, missing at least some of the imperfections that you deep down in your heart know are there, and must admit that are there cause if you don’t, a smart judge will tell you why you lost marks…..

It’s the first day of a 5 day show and already you have had to do some maintenance, just when your media commitments are kicking in. Mmmm great timing, but alas, there is one other thing you know for sure, and that is by 5pm Sunday, your show garden will no longer exist. Hope you got some good photos, cause it will be over.So I guess however it turns out, you are best to enjoy your little garden. Its a very small window of time, so let your garden be what it was, a manicured fantasy, a miniscule piece of paradise, a love of plants, a good design. Be at peace with your garden, cause now it is gone

Student gardens at the 2015 Melbourne Flower Show

By James Wall.

Avenue Of Achievable Gardens.

You can always find a little bit of inspiration in the student gardens and this year the standard was set very high. Never have I seen so much creation, new school thinking and good use of plants. One day some of these horticultural and design students will be the industry trend setters. One of them may be a true gem.

After talking to a couple of the students I realised that they are just as motivated and excited about the industry as I hope I was at that age.

Here are some of the best of the 2015 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show student gardens. Thanks go to the major sponsor Debco.

Grounding - Benjamin Taylor - University Of Melbourne

Rousseau's Jungle - Heather Forward University Of Melbourne

Urban Oasis - Veronica Bosque, Clare Mesenberg, Jo Zorzi - Holmesglen Institute

Nicola Muston - Holmesglen Institiute

The Pollinator Partner - Rebecca Bennett - Swinburne Universty Of Technology

Green Haven - Andrew Genovese - Melbourne Polytechnic

The Crossroads - Ben Newell - Swinburne University of Technology

The Wilde Side - Sonja Van Nieuwenhoven, Elise Northover, Katya Hamniuk, Ellen Davies

Gardenworld at 2015 Melbourne Flower Show

By James Wall

We are proud to once again be involved in the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show which starts today and goes until Sunday.

Here are some of the things Gardenworld have been up to:

Candeo Design – The Bronzed Brolga

Brent Reid – Candeo Design. Brent runs his company out of the Design Studio here at Gardenworld. He has been commissioned by the Northern Territitory Government to build a site to promote Tourism NT. The garden is called ‘The Bronzed Brolga’ and includes an amazing pond and a beautiful stone wall. Construction is by Semken Landscaping and the plant list includes 5 Phoenix roebelenii palms borrowed from Gardenworld Nursery. These wonderous specimens are over 30 years old and were grown in Brisbane and shipped down to the nursery. Very rare plants indeed. Brent’s garden received a Bronze Medal.

Phillip Withers Landscape Design – ‘Food Forest’

Phillip Withers Landscape Design – ‘Food Forest’ – Phillip also runs his business out of the design studio at Gardenworld. This quirky design celebrates the fusion of food plants and style in a home garden. There is something here for everyone. There is a fully fruiting persimmon tree that many visitors to the show will never have seen growing before. Phillip’s garden received a Silver medal and also took out the Honda Sustainabilty award for the second year running. Special thanks must go to Semken Landscaping for construction and Outdeco garden screens which looked sensational painted in Phil’s latest colour palette. These screens are available to buy at Lotus Watergardens at Gardenworld.

LocalNurseries.com.au – ‘Resonate’

LocalNurseries .com.au – ‘Resonate’
Designed by Vivid Design and construction by Semken Landscaping
A retro styled garden with dramatic undulations. This garden was awarded a Gold Medal.

Gardenworld Nursery is proud to be a member of the Local Nurseries group. We are retail nurseries based in Melbourne and Geelong that work together in sourcing the best plants and aim to have the best garden centres we can. If you want your local nursery to be around in 20 years, don’t just go to the big chain stores – come and meet the horticultural experts who love their plants and care about your garden.

 Competition – Guess the weight of this pumpkin

Gardenworld is offering a $150 gift voucher for whoever guesses the correct weight of this giant Atlantic pumpkin. The pumpkin is on display at the Royal Horticultural Society and their Great Hanging Basket Competition. Just look for the hundreds of hanging baskets. We believe this pumpkin may weigh over 200 kg !

Thankyou to the efforts of hundrerds of people, including Gardenworld staff and suppliers, without which this show would not be possible.

A modern Highett garden.

By James Wall

Was lucky enough to visit two gardens in the 2014 Garden Design Fest and this garden in a Melbourne suburb called Highett was one of them.

It was designed by Stephen Read. I found it to be a very refreshing garden and it reinforced some old ideas and introduced some new.

The use of bollards might be an old idea, but it was executed with perfection. The curve of the structures and the simplicity of the planting of Bearberry Cotoneaster dammeri that surround the solitary Cypress, and common plant in this suburbia. The house seems protected yet at the same time open to the world around it.

But what really hits you in the face as you walk in is this stunning wall of Boston Ivy intertwined with Chinese Star Jasmine. In this spring November garden, it was peaking.

This Chinese Star Jasmine by itself looked pretty good too ! And further in behind the bollards was a nice sitting area surrounder by a ‘wonderful’ Pomegranate hedge with Feather reed grass. Hmmm what a good idea. I could imagine mum out here on the ipad, just getting away for a bit of wireless online shopping.

Another fence covered spectacularly but this time with Boston Ivy and Silver Vein Creeper, another one of the Parthenocissus species and another stunning blending of varieties.

Heading down the side of the house, note the red bricks drawing you along what is a very narrow path, but which allows for a nice wide vegetable garden, sensibly designed on the north side of the block. Incorporating terracotta pots into the actual garden, creates a really nice effect, especially with some blue lobelia added for colour.

At this point you reach the backyard. In between the paving is three poignant olive trees and pencil pines adorn the main bed. They are surround by Salvia and Rudbeckia. There appear to be more pomegranate along the back fence, but this is still a young planting and the garden hasn’t yet fully pronounced its full coming.

From there, the things that really impressed me were the differing levels of the ground and the way decking and garden had been incorporated. Nothing was too overdone, but there was just so much there to take in. I am sure the proud owners spend hours siting out there with a paper, occasionally peering up to watch it grow.

A fig tree which will one day shade the house and provide food for the family in just a month or so’s time. A great place to end this little tour. I hope you enjoyed this garden as much as i did. Its simplicity in the front, flowed through to a more complex back yard, that in about 5 years time would have me really curious in seeing. I left this garden content. I wanted to go around each next corner….yes it really dragged me in. It is a privilege for both the designer and owner to let us see it. Next time you hear about an open garden, why don’t you just drop by for a little bit of inspiration….and a little bit of joy. 

Stephen Read Landscape Design website.

Garden Design Fest website.

A coastal Mt Eliza garden.

By Milli Wall.

Yesterday I visited a beautiful open garden in Mount Eliza called Earimil Gardens, a privately owned and independently displayed coastal garden rambling over 3 hectares located on a steep cliff block. Many mature trees protect the gardens exposed position and provide shade in a mostly sun drenched space. Admire sweeping views of surrounding land from a jutting viewing platform – once a helicopter landing pad.

Elaine, the owner of the property at in Mount Eliza, invites the public into her gardens for a $10 entry fee going to charity (children free) When I arrive I find Elaine talking to a group of visitors. She is obviously enjoying the experience of sharing her wonderful gardens. I can see she and her helpers have taken care to put on a terrific day, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, an acoustic guitarist plays to several groups enjoying picnic lunches on the lawns. Many inspired noises can be heard from people as they make notes to apply to their own gardens.

My kids enjoy finding all the Australian wildlife sculptures tucked away in the gardens but to me the flower beds are the highlight of this garden; providing the visitor with delightful layers of prolific colour. Thought has been put into the smallest details, from nasturtiums and erigeron encouraged to grow randomly through a fence to grand bay views framed through magnificent cascading rose and clematis vines in full bloom. Breath taking, a delightful chaotic wildness is tempered by someone’s loving attention to detail, not a weed or a dead flower to be found.

When Elaine decides to open her delightful garden again I highly recommend a visit.

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