Looking at other people’s gardens is a wonderful way to gain inspiration when starting a new garden or re-invigorating a tired plot. At our August meeting a large and enthusiastic group of APS members visited Margaret Lynch’s garden in Narooma and Jan Raabe’s gardens in Dalmeny with landscape designer Shane Doherty.
The intention was to discover how suburban yards can be transformed into appealing gardens using Australian indigenous plants. Margaret and Jan’s gardens are great examples of how to successfully work within existing site, soil and structural landscaping constraints and blend exotic and Australian plants.
Shane talked about how landscape designers approach planning a garden – taking into account the prospect – the appearance of house and garden from the street – and aspect – the view out from within the house. She discussed how position in the landscape – from hilltop down to valley - can determine soil type and depth, drainage and vegetation type. The patterns seen in the wider landscape can also be found in the home garden.
When Margaret was planning her garden it was decided to remove all existing lawn and exotic plants apart from a Chinese Smoke Bush and a Frangipani. The indigenous plants Margaret chose to replace the original garden are deliberately low to medium shrubs and grasses underplanted with ground covers so the view from the house and deck to the sea is framed rather than obstructed.
Although only three years old, Margaret’s appropriate plant choice, combined with a large amount of hard work, have made a beautiful and inviting garden that appears far more settled and mature than its years.
After lunch we walked through three gardens made by Jan Raabe. The first, Jan’s own, appears to be in its prime, despite being of an age when many Australian native gardens are starting to thin out and look straggly. The secret to its good looks is that Jan does not hesitate to replace plants that fail to thrive and she regularly prunes.
Next door the garden of Jan’s son was created using the centuries’ old European practice of using timber as the basis for earth mounding. This gives excellent drainage and the decomposing timber is a consistent source of long-term nutrients for plants.
Jan is also employing the mounding technique in a new garden she is currently preparing and the results speak for themselves as mounded garden beds are springing up all through the surrounding streets.
Margaret and Jan’s gardens are a tribute to extensive horticultural knowledge, hard work and the artist’s eye. APS members were very pleased to have the chance to visit and gain an insight into the planning and creation of these flourishing gardens.