On Sunday 4th February, twenty APS Yarra Yarra members visited two gardens in Box Hill with an emphasis on the successful use of small areas, which is where modern communities are heading.
The first visit was to a unit development consisting of several private and common areas built in the sixties by the Blessed Sacrament Religious order. Frank O’Dea, now an elderly member of this community developed the gardens using Australian plants over many years. He joined the Maroondah APS and has established a remarkable garden. He maintains a spreadsheet of all the plants, with details of when they were planted, and so on. Of late, Joe Wilson (also a Maroondah APS member) maintains the gardens for him, and we were fortunate Joe could lead the tour.
Some of the impressive plants were: Grevillea georgeana (2M), Correa backhouseana, Pomaderris lanigera, Eremophila mirabilis, E. nivea, Allocasuarina nana, Melaleuca decussata, Spyridium halmaturinum (Kangaroo Island), Leptospermum petersonii, Hibbertia scandens, Pandorea jasminoides (reaching for the heavens), Chorilaena quercifolia, Calothamnus species, Darwinia meeboldii, D. citriodora (2x2m), Marianthus (was Billardiera) bicolor, various acacia, a towering Euc. maculata (25m+) and more. We were amazed at the vigour and variety of the small area plantings, attesting to the good soils around Box Hill, and the vigilant pruning done by Joe Wilson, our knowledgeable guide. Frank also invited us in to admire his 3m plus Wollemi pine growing in a pot on his balcony.
Off to the second garden, a diverse, fenced-in, corner block garden designed by Merele Webb and planted out by the owner, Diane Hedin. Merele outlined to us some of the challenges that the site presented. The small original pond was moved and enlarged and a creek bed and a mini ‘gorge’ were created, both leading to the pond. Peter Smith executed the hard landscaping for the garden.
Granite rocks were used and eventually the large eucalypt was removed and replaced by three Eucalyptus saxatilis (Suggan Buggan mallee) and a Eucalyptus pumila. Diane used lots of local plants and grasses (sourced from CRISP nursery), plants from Chris Fletcher and a couple of Phil Vaughan’s special grevilleas. Two dogs took their toll on the garden early in the piece, but since their departure, the garden has flourished with abundant skink and insect life. Merele emphasized that Diane had achieved a multi-layered effect in just a couple of years, using predominantly tube plants. Afternoon tea was enjoyed at the end of our visit.
Thankyou to both Frank, Joe, Diane, Merele and Peter for allowing us to visit the two gardens, giving of their time, and providing the background history and planning involved at both.
Report by Jenny H. and Jill L.
Images from Ben Eaton, Leanne Stute, and Jill Lulham