Shirley has a gift for combining plants to great effect using height, colour and texture of foliage and flowers. The result is an integrated blending of Aussie plant magic. Her gardens have featured in the Open Garden scheme many times.
Her latest garden in the Dandenongs is only 3 years old. It was a freezing day and 9 of us were brave enough to rug up and make the trip for the sheer pleasure at the end. Shirley is a generous and welcoming host. She explained experiments and names as we were guided around.
The large quarter acre block is a long rectangle running West/East with the front garden on the west side of the house. There is plenty of sun from the North and a wonderful borrowed landscape with the hills to enjoy in the distance on the South side.
Landscaping over the block has raised beds which allowed wide meandering paths for strolling around and for maximum visibility of the collection. The back garden has a loop path along the long axis, with an extensive bed separating the two sides. Compacted sawdust on the paths gives a wonderful springy feel underfoot.
Shirley is ruthless with plants if they don’t perform. She sources plants from all our usual nurseries plus cuttings and gifts from friends.
Banksias low, medium and high were in flower and looked stunning. There were plenty of buds on the phebaliums, many kinds of spyridium in full show as well as epacris waving their floriferous wands in the wind. Shirley uses other favourites such as pimelea, low grevillea and various lomandra to fill in gaps. We all loved Lomandra patens with its unusual flowers.
Various eucalypts formed some protection for this long bed and Shirley also used some prickly shrubs and hardenbergia to make bird habitat. An Eastern Spinebill entertained us with its antics amongst the shrubs and then took a long bath as we watched on.
The garden borders were a lovely mix of tall shrubs with textural contrasts. allocasuarina, acacia, eucalypts and banksias wove themselves into blended curtains of foliage.
Shirley has created a garden of great visual beauty and appeal. It was hard to believe she started from scratch 3 years ago. She has a great knowledge of plants and their conditions, and loves to share her experiences.
Thankyou Shirley for sharing with us.
Report by Joanne Cairns