Garden Guides and Garden Design Books

A comprehensive garden library is essential for planning and designing a garden and a wonderful way to pass a Winter evening, when the Spring seems such a long way away! Here are some of the books in my library, but please note this is by no means an exhaustive list, but just some of my favourites that I tend to read constantly!

1.Garden Reference Guides

First up, the  Garden Plant Series by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix.

I have already mentioned their book on Roses (1994) in my previous garden book post, but they have also compiled books on Bulbs (over 1000 types) 1981; Shrubs (over 1900 types) 1989; and Perennials (Over 1250 plants in two volumes) : Volume 1: Early Perennials and Volume 2: Late Perennials 1994.

While both authors are British, they do include plants from all over the world, including Australia. Their introduction includes brief notes on plant history and origins in the wild; their use in the garden; propagation, planting, cultivation and pruning notes; and pests and diseases, as well as full colour photographs of all the species of a particular plant type. Each book starts with plants which flower in Winter and then progresses through the seasonal cycle.

Martyn and Roger have also produced a set of mini-guides: The Best Scented Plants (over 200 types); Plants for Shade (over 250 plants); Traditional Old Roses; and Climbers for Walls and Arbours – all published by Pan in 1998 and all a delightful read!

Martyn Rix also wrote the Kew Subtropical and Dry Climate Guide in 2006, a book which will become increasingly important with the rising temperatures and droughts, associated with climate change. It has an excellent plant directory of trees, shrubs and climbers, perennials and annuals, bulbs and cacti and succulents from Mediterranean regions, South Africa, California and Mexico, China and India and Australia and New Zealand, all with low water requirements. Each entry lists different species in the family, their origin and use, height and spread specifications and notes about their cultivation, drought tolerance and hardiness and humidity requirements, as well as having lovely photos. I will be discussing some other excellent books on this subject in my post : Specific Types of Gardens: Part Two next month.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-346

The Essential Plant Guide: Every Plant Guide You Need For Your Garden (For Australian and New Zealand Gardens) 2013  is a real door stopper of a book with chapters on Trees; Shrubs; Annuals and Perennials, Grasses, Sedges and Bamboos; Fruit and Nut Trees; Bulbs, Corms and Tubers; Cacti and Succulents! Each chapter is alphabetically organized according to genus name with descriptions, photographs and cultivation notes and top tips and a table of favourite varieties with details of colour, fragrance, height and width, blooming season, hardiness zone and frost tolerance. It includes an illustrated  guide to fruit and leaf types to make description easier.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-337

Australian Gardening Encyclopaedia by Random House 1998 is a similar book with a hardiness zone map and notes on garden design, basic design principles, planting and maintenance techniques and pests and diseases. It covers similar categories of plants, as well as Vegetables and Herbs; Ferns, Palms and Cycads; Lawns and Ground Covers, Climbers and Creepers and even Orchids, again organized by genus name. At the back is an alphabetically – ordered Reference Table, detailing growth, form and use; hardiness zone; type of foliage (deciduous or evergreen); height and width; chief attraction; flowering time and special comments about each plant. The entries are shorter, but there are probably more plants covered.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-338

The Royal Horticultural Society Garden Plants and Flowers in Australia by Ian Spence 2009 is a slightly smaller tome, but equally valuable as a reference guide. Each section starts with notes about the plant type throughout the year, with a series of photos for each season with their page number for easy reference. Chapters include : Trees and Shrubs – the backbone to the garden; Climbing Plants – the vertical element; Flowering Plants – for colour and fragrance; and Bamboos, Grasses and Ferns –  for foliage, background colour, texture and year-round interest. There is also a chapter on Planting and Caring for Plants and very useful lists of suitable plants for particular areas like exposed sites; seaside gardens; dry sun; damp shade; dry shade; deep shade; acid soils; chalky alkaline soils; rock gardens; bog gardens and sloping sites;  or particular needs, like ornamental herbs and fragrant plants.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-339From the Ground Up: A Complete Guide For Victorian Gardeners by Jane Edmanson 2009 : I bought this book, while we were living in Victoria, but found it to be a very useful guide in Southern New South Wales as well. As a long-term Victorian presenter for ABC’s Gardening Australia, Jane really knows her subject and is a mine of information on gardening in Victoria. She discusses the Victorian climate and soils in depth, including ways of improving the soil, different types of compost and fertilizers; watering and mulching; propagation techniques and transplanting seedlings; pruning; and garden design. Then, there are the chapters on Australian natives; exotic species for sun, shade and colour; the productive garden;  potted plants; lawns; pests and diseases; weeds and a gardening calendar of garden tasks for each month.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-345Another self-professed Australian botanical bible is The Constant Gardener by Holly Kerr Forsyth 2007. Holly has written a large number of articles about gardening for The Australian, as well as many beautiful books with sumptuous photography. I love her books, some of which I will describe in a later post on dreamy inspirational gardening books, but this one definitely belongs here!

Part One covers the Australian seasons, landscapes and environmental concerns, including global warming, drought, increasing salinity and the threat of feral weeds (as well as possible management strategies and sustainable practices). In Part Two, Holly  discusses some of her favourite plants, which I also adore. She includes a description of her favourite varieties, their use in the garden, planting, requirements and care and the odd anecdote and recipe, as is typical of her style.

Part Three covers grouped garden elements: borders, edgings and ground-covers; lawns and grasses; hedges and climbers; trees, conifers and shrubs; native plants; succulents and tropical plants; and  fruit, herbs and spices; while Part Four gets down to the nitty-gritty of maintaining a healthy garden with chapters on soil and fertilizers; compost and mulch; propagation, pruning and transplanting; and pests, diseases and weeds.

Part Five covers garden design; colour and scent and plants for shady areas.  In Part Six, Holly looks at garden structures; gardening in small spaces; hardscaping: paths and paving, steps; edgings and seats; fences and walls; entrances and gates; supports and structures; lighting; pots; sculptures; water features and flower arranging. And finally, she takes us on a Cook’s Tour of all her favourite types of gardens throughout the world, including Chinese and Japanese gardens; foliage gardens; vegetable gardens; community gardens; mazes, knots and parterres; meadow gardens; rose gardens; native gardens; seaside gardens and water-wise gardens- all with lovely photos and examples. At the back of the book, she includes contact details for many of the gardens cited throughout the book. It’s a lovely book to dip into at random and I highly recommend it!bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-361

Garden Shrubs and Trees in Colour by Eigel Kiaer 1959 is a delightful little hardback gem, which I picked up in a second-hand book sale. While there are descriptive notes in the back of the book, I adore its quirky little colour plates with numbered illustrations of each species and tiny black-and-white sketches of the gardener going about his chores and the tree in relation to house height. The gardener always has a pipe in his mouth and is engaged in various activities from lawn mowing to raking, pushing a wheelbarrow, digging and watering and just admiring the view!

bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-344-copybloggardendesignbksreszd30image-376Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon 1990 A basic knowledge of botany is invaluable to the gardener for an understanding of plant requirements and correct maintenance for optimal growth. This excellent little book has very clear explanations and covers :

Plant anatomy, right down to cell structure, and that of seeds, roots, shoots, and  stems;

Adaptation mechanisms for protection and fulfilment of basic needs including: competition between plants; reaching for the sun; climbing structures; epiphytes; supportive roots; water uptake and storage, parasitic plants and insectivorous plants.

Plant functions: including growth and development; environmental control; water uptake; osmosis; photosynthesis; and gas exchange with the atmosphere.  And finally,

Reproduction: including flower pollination, the reproductive process; seed dispersal; fruit types; plant classification; genetics; and the life cycle of mosses and ferns.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-355

Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names For Gardeners by William T Stearn  1996 is a great reference guide to the origin and meaning of the plant’s scientific name, covering both genus and species names. For example, one of the only two scientific names my eldest daughter learnt: Callicoma serratifolia , a rainforest tree, which used to grow down by our creek in Northern New South Wales. ‘Calli-’ comes from the Greek word ‘kalli’, meaning ‘beautiful’; ‘-coma’ from the Greek word  ‘kome’, meaning ‘hair’, thus referring to the soft gold, tufted flowerheads of this tree. ‘Serratifolia’ refers to the serrated or saw-tooth edges of its leaves. It is such an interesting book, as it often includes extra fascinating facts, as well as a chapter on vernacular names.


  1. Garden Design Books :

2A. Garden Design Principles

Down-to-Earth garden Design by Phil Dudman : How To Design and Build Your Dream Garden 2010. I bought this book when I was studying garden design at Burnley and it backed up my study brilliantly. It covers all the basics, as well as providing ready-made garden designs for different garden configurations, and very practical information about actually achieving your design from building retaining walls, steps, pergolas and ponds to installing drainage, laying concrete and pavers, establishing new lawns and planting, composting, mulching and irrigation. A very useful book to own!bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-351

Art and the Gardener : Fine Painting as Inspiration for Garden Design by Gordon Hayward  2008 is a relatively new addition to my library. Because my gardening library is quite extensive, with a  book on most gardening topics, as well as the marvels of the internet, I am now very choosy when it comes to actually purchasing a book, but this one was on sale and looked at garden design in quite a novel way, so how could I resist? On reading it over Christmas, I’m so glad I didn’t! It’s a beautiful book, especially if like me, you love art and gardens. It’s a natural match really, when you think about it. Both art and gardens are governed by similar design elements and principles like line and form, colour and scale, texture, contrast, balance and harmony etc. Gordon relates different art movements to garden style: romanticism, classical axial, impressionism, cubism, minimalism, abstract expressionism and contemporary. He examines the relationship between house and garden in some detail, as well as rules of composition and design principles, including curves and straight lines; focal points; light and shade; contrast in texture and colour; transition spaces; and vertical elements. He has a large chapter on colour harmony or contrast, with suggestions of plants of different colours and seasons and an appendix on colour symbolism in different cultures. Throughout the book are beautiful photographs of artworks and gardens – a real visual treat, as well as really making you think and analyze both art and gardens.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-352

Garden Enchantment: Creative Design with Annuals and Perennials by Cheryl Maddocks 1992 This is a lovely dreamy book, covering colour design (including lists of flowers for different colour themes); fragrance; planting combinations; perennial borders and annuals; different garden types (meadow; natural; flower arrangers; herbs and edible flowers; pots and situations like  shade and night-time); as well as chapters on soil preparation; maintenance and propagation. There are selection lists for annuals and perennials at the back of the book, with descriptions and cultivation notes.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-350

2B. Elements of Design

  1. Colour

The Gardener’s Book of Colour by Andrew Lawson 1996.  I bought this book after hearing a talk by Andrew Lawson in Armidale in 1998, when he was visiting Australia. After discussing colour theory, he focuses on gardening with single colours (with planting suggestions for each season); harmonies and contrasts; and mixed colour combinations. At the back of the book, he includes keyline drawings with full  planting details for the major schemes discussed. I love his beautiful photographs and his brilliant colour combinations from bold and dramatic to harmonious and peaceful. His plant directories provide cultivation details for over 850 plants. I found his section on green colours particularly useful, as the backdrop to the garden throughout all seasons.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-349

Planting For Colour by Susan Chivers 1988 is also an excellent book on colour, with a double page spread devoted to each colour and notes on the association between colour and moods, including planting suggestions for each desired emotional effect eg calming; exciting; dramatic; subtle; and sophisticated. It examines the use of colour in different situations like small town gardens; country gardens; woodland gardens; water gardens; and seaside gardens with planting suggestions throughout. She  also looks at hard landscaping and containers. The final half of the book is devoted to ensuring the maximum use of colour throughout all the seasons from early Spring to late Winter, with double page plant profiles of dominant plants in each season eg magnolias and miniature daffodils in early Spring; and  early-flowering clematis, tulips and rhododendrons and azaleas in late Spring.


The Startling Jungle: Colour and Scent in the Romantic Garden by Stephen Lacey 1986  An immediate best-seller on its publication, this book  leads into my next design element – scent. In this, his first book, Stephen writes about the use of colour and scent in the garden; cottage gardens; and the importance of foliage, then spends the remainder of the book describing the progress of the seasons, with delightful chapter titles like ‘the promise of a warming air’ (Spring) or ‘the brittle violin of frost’ (Winter). While only a small paperback , it makes up for its limited number of colour-plates with its prose and word pictures- a delightful read and worthy of all the acclaim it received.



Scent in Your Garden by Stephen Lacey. One of my favourite books, as fragrance is an incredibly important facet of the garden for me and I love the luscious photographs by Andrew Lawson, who wrote the book on colour, previously described. Beginning with a chapter on the nature of scent, the book goes on to describe scented trees and shrubs; herbaceous borders and ground-covers; walled gardens and vertical plantings; rock and water gardens; rose gardens (my favourite!); herbs and conservatory and mild climate plants. While there are a large number of books now on scented plants, I still think this is one of the best!

bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-363Fragrant Herbal: Enhancing Your Life with Aromatic Herbs and Essential Oils by Lesley Bremness 1998 . Published by Crabtree and Evelyn, one of my favourite shops for toiletries, soaps and fragrances, this book is sumptuous, with stunning photography and over 75 recipes for delicious meals and herbal teas and fragrant home and bath products! It has extensive chapters on herbs and aromatherapy; plans for 12 fragrant herb gardens and an illustrated ‘A to Z’ index of over more than 120 herbs, with details of their aromatic properties, use and cultivation. If ever you need a pick-me-up, this beautiful coffee-table book is essential reading!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-374Creating a Garden for the Senses by Jenny Hendy 2009 While sight and smell (and to a certain extent, taste) are so dominant and amply catered for in garden design, the other senses of sound and touch are also very important and this small book has many wonderful ideas for creating a garden for all the senses. Again, beautiful photos, which were the initial reason for buying this book!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-378

  1. Seasonal Interest

Plants For All Seasons by Andrew Lawson 1992, another lovely small book by Andrew Lawson, it features 250 plants for year-round display, a very important concept, especially in smaller gardens with limited space. Each plants described has been chosen for its versatility, its double value in the garden, through repeated blooming of flowers; long-lasting seedheads or Autumn berries, its colourful foliage and even the colour of its bark. For example, my Golden Hornet Crabapple, which is featured in the book, has beautiful white Spring blossom, golden fruits in Summer, which last well into Winter and colourful Autumn foliage. The glossy photographs are certainly very seductive!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-348

Plants For All Seasons by Ursula Buchan 1999 has an identical title and also details 85 plants with multi-season interest. She starts with a big section on foliage and texture; bark and stems; flowers and seedheads and growth habits; then focuses on each plant group with a full page devoted to each plant and again, lovely photos.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-353

This book was reprinted in paperback form in 2004 under a slightly different title: Planting For All Seasons: Beautiful and Versatile Plants That Change Through The Year , but it is otherwise identical to the 1999 book.


2C. Garden Type

While there are numerous books on all the different garden styles from formal gardens to cottage gardens, seaside gardens, romantic gardens etc, I have only focused on a few favourites, which were very pertinent to us at the time, as we are very keen on the environment and have lived most of our years in the country, as well as raising a family. Next month, I will be discussing a few more specific garden styles as well.

  1. Natural Gardens

The Natural Gardener by Val Bourne 2004, the winner of the Garden Writers’ Guild Book of the Year Award in 2005, is another excellent read, which follows the garden through the seasonal cycle, with interesting snippets along the way about natural predators and insects like ladybirds and spiders; bumblebees and honeybees; butterflies and moths; ground beetles and vine weevils, hoverflies and lacewings; slugs; frogs and newts; and birds and hedgehogs. There are informative chapters on Winter foliage and fragrance; early Spring blooms; bulb lawns; water gardens;  transition periods between seasons; vegetable gardens; Summer flowers, Autumn blooms and fruit; and seedhead, stem and bark interest for Winter. Even though this book is written from a British perspective, its organic  and environmentally-friendly principles can still be applied to other countries, including Australia on the other side of the world!bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-366

Natural Garden Style : Gardening Inspired by Nature by Noël Kingsbury 2009 is another British book with a stunning jacket and illustrations, based on linocuts by Angie Lewin, reason enough to buy this beautiful book or at least that’s my excuse!! Its thick wood-free paper, gorgeous photos and lovely coffee-table presentation is also the reason why books will always survive despite the digital age! In the introduction, Noël discusses the importance of organic gardening methods; sustainability and biodiversity; the concept of ‘right plant, right place’; learning from nature; gardening for wildlife and contemporary natural-style planting. He elaborates on these ideas in his chapters on meadows; prairies and borders; trees and woodlands; and the wider landscape, as well as discussing sculpture and ornament; sun and stone; land and water forms; and plant selection and maintenance. He finishes with a directory of natural-style gardens to visit in the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-365

Noël has also written another lovely book titled The New Perennial Garden 1996, in which he discusses the relationship between gardening and nature and the new garden styles, which encourage and support this ethos; plantings for specific conditions like full sun, shade, damp areas and dry areas; and a myriad of garden techniques from planting flowering meadows to seed collection and storage; propagation, maintenance and pest and weed control. The plant tables at the back are particularly useful, listing plants for shade (shade, light shade and moist shade); meadows, rough grass, prairies, steppes and heathlands; moist ground, waterside, and dry environments; and finally short-lived perennials, biennials and annuals, all with great photos and details on height, growth habit, foliage, flower, season, situation, zone and extra remarks.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0298

  1. Country Gardens

The Country Garden: How to Create the Natural Look in Your Garden by John Brookes 1987, one of my gardening bibles in my early gardening days! John Brookes is another very prominent garden designer in Britain. His acclaimed garden, ‘Denmans’ can be visited in West Sussex (along with 20,000 other visitors a year!). See : for details. Stephen Lacey has written an article about this doyen of British garden designers at :

John Brookes was one of the pioneers of natural-style gardening back in the 1980s and in this book, he describes the new informal relaxed approach to gardening; natural gardening and planting; integrating house and garden and the concept of the borrowed landscape (though neither of these are new concepts, being fundamental tenets of the Arts and Crafts style gardens at the turn of last century, though neglected over the intervening years!) ; axes, vistas and glimpsed views; drift and flow effects; entrances and exits; walls, hedges and fences; surfaces and levels; paths and paving; garden structures; distressing techniques to age appearance; sculptures and ornaments; and the importance of a garden plan and how to draw it.  He examines the garden in each season with beautiful labelled photos (like herbarium pages) on a double page spread, featuring plants of seasonal interest eg Winter flowers; Winter stems and Winter Vegetables. Along the way, he describes different types of natural gardens: gravel gardens; woodlands; neglected corners; rugged clifftop gardens by the sea; cottage gardens; enchanted gardens; water gardens; shade gardens; working gardens, herb gardens- so many different types! At the back, he includes case histories and garden plans; natural garden planting lists, with the plants divided into their use (eg food for butterflies/ rabbit resistance/ decorative seed-heads etc) and specific environments (eg different soil types; moist shaded areas; extreme alkalinity etc). While this book can be read from start to finish, its format and presentation encourages a dip-in approach! It’s a very inspirational book!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-372

 The Country Garden by Trisha Dixon 1992 My Christmas present in 1993! An equally lovely book about country gardens, this publication has a more traditional approach and a different form of organization. It has a logical ordered approach, starting from planning the garden and understanding the site; setting the style with respect to entrances and driveways, garden buildings, water features, and cottage style and wild gardens; the concepts of symmetry and perspective, including patterns and vistas, garden walks and avenues and hedging; colour; walls and fences and finally produce, an essential element of the country garden! This was a particularly useful book for us, because it is written from an Australian perspective! Stunning photography once again!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-373

  1. Family Gardens

Family Gardens by Bunny Guinness 1996. The perfect book for us at the time, given that we were developing our country gardens, while raising 3 young children, as well as the fact that today’s children are tomorrow’s gardeners! This lovely book positively propels kids out into the garden with its chapters on design and planning for all sizes of garden; playhouses and treehouses; garden games and outdoor living; water gardens; and gardens for pets and wildlife, and finally planting schemes of suitable plants, not to mention a cautionary poisonous plants list! There are wonderful photos of (and occasionally instructions for) Wendy houses and magical tree houses with slides; crocodile willow houses; swings and climbing pergolas; allocated areas for garden games; sandpits and paddling pools; outdoor eating areas, barbecues and terraces; vegetable patches for childhood foraging; unusual garden furniture and garden buildings; ponds and wetlands; wildlife gardens and wildflower meadows; chicken runs and rabbit hutches; adventure mazes and even topiary peacocks! I loved this book for its imagination and creativity and sheer sense of FUN!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-367

2D. Books by Garden Designers

Rosemary Verey (1918-2001)

Rosemary Verey’s Making of a Garden 1995

Rosemary Verey was an internationally renowned plantswoman and garden designer with a very famous garden Barnsley House in Gloucestershire.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-364

This is a beautiful book about the development of her garden over 35 years and encompassing all her gardening principles and practical techniques. I adored the watercolour designs of each garden area, like that of her potager below.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-375

Penelope Hobhouse (1929-)

Another very British influential gardener, writer and garden designer. I own three of her books: Colour in Your Garden: A Practical Sourcebook 1985; Garden Style 1989 and Penelope Hobhouse On Gardening 1994.


The first book could have fitted equally well into the category on Design Elements, earlier in this post, but I thought I’d keep all her books together- mind you all of them would also fit into a future post on dreamy inspirational gardens (along with Rosemary Verey and Edna Walling as well!!).

In this book, she starts by discussing design for colour and the nature of colour, before focusing intensively on each individual colour, with seasonal planting suggestions, wonderful photographs and keyline drawings of planting plans. She also has a large section on the foliage framework, both green and Autumn colours, as well as bark colour. She finishes with some information on  the science behind plant colour and notes on climate and growing conditions.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-369

In her book, Garden Style, she discusses a large number of gardens, which have inspired and educated her, including her own Tintinhull and Margery Fish’s cottage garden at East Lambrook Manor, both in Somerset;  Hidcote Manor, Gloucestershire;and Villa Noailles in South-Eastern France. She discusses the importance of framework in a garden; archways and pergolas; paths and steps; hedges and avenues and water features, using Jenkyn Place, Hampshire and Christopher Lloyd’s garden, Great Dixter, East Sussex, as examples. She discusses pattern in some depth, both in decorative plantings and hard and soft landscapes, including mazes, topiary, water patterns, kitchen gardens, parterres and knot gardens. East Lambrook Manor features again in her chapter on more natural style gardens, along with the Longstock Water Gardens, Hampshire. The flower garden and colour border, as well as Gertrude Jekyll’s influence, feature in her discussions of Monet’s Giverny; Hestercombe and her own garden, Tintinhull, both in Somerset. The final chapter describes the concepts of garden rooms, inner gardens and informal garden areas.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-368

In the last book, Penelope reveals all her gardening secrets and ideas, using her own garden, Tintinhull, to illustrate her theories. She describes each garden area, supported by stunning photographs, as well as discussing feature plants like hellebores and euphorbias; anemones and self-seeders; silver foliage plants; flowering salvias and roses; and cyclamen and alliums. Like Rosemary Verey’s book, there are beautiful watercolour plans of all her plantings. She also discusses seed collection and sowing and propagation by cuttings in her final  chapter titled ‘Behind the Scenes’. A truly beautiful and inspiring book!!!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-371

Edna Walling (1896-1973)

No Australian garden library would be complete without a book by our own celebrated garden writer, designer and environmentalist Edna Walling and I actually have four books:

Cottage and Garden in Australia 1947

The Edna Walling Book of Australian Garden Design 1980, edited by Margaret Barrett

A Gardener’s Log 1985

The Garden Magic of Edna Walling 1988

Here is the back cover of the second book, in which Edna expresses her garden philosophy.


Cottage and Garden in Australia 1947 is an original copy, which we inherited from my husband’s mother. It is one of my favourites! Edna loved old English cottages, particular their scale, charm and use of local materials, and she created her own village in Bickleighvale at Mooroolbark, Victoria, now alas swallowed up by Melbourne suburbia, but nevertheless, with the cottages still intact, though the now-mature gardens are very shady and probably need rejuvenation! I love the old sepia photographs of both interiors and exteriors in this book, which really add to the sense of history and simplicity of her delightful dwellings. She includes plans, specifications and detailed drawings of her cottages and detailed notes about doorways and windows; stonework and timber; chimneys and paved floors and homemade garden pots.


The Edna Walling Book of Garden Design, (a blend of extracts from Edna’s first three books: Cottage and Garden 1947, already discussed;  Gardens in Australia 1943; and A Gardener’s Log 1948) focuses more on the garden, with chapters titled: On Garden-Making; Trees and Shrubs; Perennials and Ground Covers; the Natural Rock Garden; Paths, Paving and Pergolas; Walls, Steps and Stairways; Cottages and Country Gardens; and Natural Swimming Pools. Edna had her own signature plants and vocabulary, which she employed time and time again in the gardens, which she designed and then planted for her Birches, Crabapples, Hawthorns, Medlars and  Claret Ash; Kolwitzias, Daphne, Amelanchiers, Spireae, Kalmias and Chimonanthus; Campanulas, Verbascums, Achilleas, Lavender, Erigeron, Ajuga, Chamomile and Thyme. She also had a great love of the Australian bush and included many native flora in her repertoire, including Leptospermums, Lilly-Pilly (Acmena smithii), Grevilleas, Eriostemons, Baeckeas, Ericas and Prostantheras.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-359

A Gardener’s Log 1985 is a reprint of Edna’s original 1948 book, edited by Margaret Barrett. It is presented in the form of a diary or garden notebook, with little gems of wisdom and practical advice appropriate to each season.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-358

The final book, The Garden Magic of Edna Walling, once more edited by Margaret Barrett, contains over 100 black-and-white photos taken by Edna during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as colour photographs of the gardens, taken by John Hay 50 years later. Neil Robertson writes an introduction about Edna’s life and career and while much of the book is written about Edna, it does include extracts from her writings about stonework; natural gardening; Australian native plants; architecture in the garden; the use of water in the garden; gardens for children; more  greenery than colour; climbing roses; places of repose and the art of leaving well alone! bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-356

A good place to finish, I think !!! Next week, I will be returning to our garden for a post on the 2017 Summer Garden!

One year on and January’s feature plant: Agapanthus

It’s official! We have now lived here for exactly a whole year! It has been such an exciting time establishing the garden and learning all about our new climate, birds and local environment. We celebrated by purchasing a beautiful gardenia – a plant whose scent we have always loved and which we didn’t think we would be able to grow in this climate, but we have planted it in a pot beside the house in a slight shady position, which the nursery lady assures us should give it a measure of frost protection. Hopefully, she’s right!!! It’s certainly worth a try, as it is one of our favourite plants! We also had a superb first anniversary feast tonight- delicious salads, garnered from our vegetable garden, and featured in my next post on Thursday.

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First Anniversary Feast!
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A Summer feast!
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A Gardenia to celebrate our first year in Candelo!

This post is a bit of a mix- a review of what has worked well or not quite so well; ideas and plans for the future; and finishing with an in-depth look at the first of our monthly feature plants, the agapanthus, which was the dominant plant on our arrival one year ago and an all-time Summer favourite!

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A blank canvas: the start of our garden adventure

We have been really happy with the general garden design. Even though it faces east, with trees on the northern side, creating Winter shade, the site is beautifully protected from strong winds and the soil is superb – a mix of basalt and fertile river loam (with lots of iron from the old blacksmithing days!). It is a real boon to start with established mature trees, which provide a framework to the garden and give pointers for future plantings. Sadly, we did have to remove the beautiful she-oaks last Winter as they produced too much shade and even though it was difficult at the time, we are really pleased we did! The new boundary fence has also been a great addition, as not only does it delineate boundaries, it has protected the bamboo from the horse next door, provided a solid backdrop to the buddleias, especially when they are pruned in Winter, and given us much needed privacy on that narrow side of the house. It should weather to a grey colour and will soon be covered by honeysuckle and woodbine.

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The garden one year on

Apart from our severe Winter frosts, shade and sun are the biggest factors, which we have to consider in the garden. We did make a major blue at the start by digging up the two beds on the northern side of the path- they are shaded by the boundary trees in Winter, thus delaying our growing season. However, it did mean we had to establish the other 2 beds on the southern side of the path much sooner than we might have. And the no-dig method worked well for the 2nd cutting garden, eliminating much of the digging, though we will have to do a final dig now to ensure all the grass roots have gone.

This photo shows the shading of both northern beds by the trees on the left

We were particularly pleased with the Soho and Moon Beds, which work really well and have looked great all year. All the smaller plants (Bearded Iris, Verbena, Flowering Sage, Lavenders and Catmints) have established well and complement our beautiful Soho roses, which have taken on a new lease of life. We do have to continue the brick edging round the rest of the Moon Bed, as well as doing the same on the Soho Bed and Cutting Garden, as it makes the edging much easier to maintain. The brick paths are also very useful in both the Soho Bed and Cutting Garden, apart from the fact they we have to pull out the odd weed and they provide homes for the snails! But also the Blue-banded Bee I might add!! We do need to discover a cheaper source of bulk mulch for all the garden beds.

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The Soho Bed
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Edging the Moon Bed with bricks
David Austin roses in the Moon Bed

The white hedge behind the Soho Bed is growing well with the Philadelphus having tripled in size. We urgently need to construct 3 wooden arches (one at each end of the path and one at the shed corner), as well as the Main Pergola to support the climbing roses.

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The position of the Main Pergola entering the garden

We did have a few problems with the strike rate of the seeds we sowed in the cutting garden. We still have to get used to managing the annuals and bulbs together. We may yet sow all our seed in pots before transplanting to the garden, except for the ones that prefer to be planted in situ and do have a good strike rate eg Poppies. The dahlias have been fabulous- abundant flowering and excellent growth. I’d like to plant another 2 dahlias on the opposite corners of the path. The bulbs also provided a terrific display, even though the anemones disliked the shadier end of the garden. I was particularly impressed with the tulips! It will be interesting to see how they perform this year, having been underground for the whole Summer. The cornflowers were disappointing, as they required staking, and the strike rate of the bupleureum, foxgloves, cosmos and nigella was poor, but the latter two shouldn’t be a problem after this first season! However, the poppies and peony poppies, the calendulas, the zinnias and even the stock (despite its late entry) have been very impressive! It has been fabulous being able to step out into the garden to pick bouquets for the house!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.24.45BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.25.01BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-14 13.59.47Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1246BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-19 16.15.52The vegetable garden has also been a great success, despite the 28 spotted potato ladybird larvae, which decimated most of the foliage; the cabbage moth, which attacked all our brassicas; and the fact that we are still learning what to plant when! The raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb and black currant have grown well, sending out lots of fresh shoots and canes. Unfortunately, one of the blueberry bushes died, but the remaining one is doing well. And the asparagus has been slow, but is flowering at the moment, so hopefully it will establish itself over time. We are still working on the tomatoes- they have been affected by grubs too, but nothing eats the pumpkin, nor the rainbow chard! The latter is definitely worth growing, along with the purple cabbage, for its colour alone, and the sweet peas, although late, have really progressed and look so pretty in the vegie garden, as well as smelling divine! The sunflowers have also been show-stopping and flower very generously! Here are some photos of our Summer harvest :

1st photo : Dutch Cream potatoes, variety of lettuce leaves, rocket, tomatoes, capsicum and sweet peas for tonight’s first anniversary feast

2nd photo : All washed with basil and parsley addedBlogSummerSalads20%ReszdIMG_5260BlogOneYearOnAg20%ReszdIMG_5264BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 17.22.53The rose hedge behind the vegetable garden also smells wonderful, although there is a little too much shade from the white mulberry tree, whose branches we may have to trim back further still.

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The pink rose hedge between the vegetable garden and mulberry tree in its infancy
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Penelope is in the white Hybrid Musk hedge behind the northern vegetable garden

The established fruit trees have also been a great success, with 3 types of plums, 2 apples and the White Mulberry, all of which we have used to make jams, jellies and pies. I’m looking forward to the new citrus trees developing- they all need weeding, manure, blood and bone and mulching. The passionfruit has also been eaten badly- I suspect the grasshoppers! We are still getting to know all our pests! Having said that, I love watching all the birds and butterflies that visit our garden!BlogSummersplendrs20%ReszdIMG_2486Now to the rest of the garden!

Back of the house :
The Cecile Brunner arch is a great addition to the front gate and already the climber has reached the top of the side frame, and when fully grown, will shield us from the view of the old house opposite, as well as affording more privacy to the guest bedroom. The multigraft camellia, the Winter honeysuckle, hellebores and violets provide a wonderful and long-lasting display all Winter, although the daphne’s flowering season is a bit short! The Mondo grass provides an excellent low maintenance edging, but the ivy requires constant vigilance and the cement path gap needs filling.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 13.12.56Blog LateWinter20%ReszdIMG_9079Side Path :
The Banksia pergola has also been a great success and the Banksia rose is well and truly recovering from its drastic prune last year and is already providing a measure of shade to the outdoor eating area. The May bush and buddleias have also responded very well to their Winter pruning. The rose cuttings from our old garden in Armidale have taken well and will be planted out next Winter.BlogOneYearOnAg20%Reszd2015-12-29 10.38.29The herb pots have been wonderful and we have enjoyed their use in cooking, as well as for pesto and mint jelly.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-10 19.02.53The acanthus provide a dramatic low maintenance cover against the house and I love the peaceful corner under the maple tree with the statue, violets and wind flowers. The Blue-tongue lizard enjoys the sunny sheltered corner provided by the geranium pots. The mosaic stepping stones look great, as if they have always been there and probably always will!!!BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-27 18.06.39BlogOneYearOnAg20%ReszdIMG_5199Front Terrace :
The climbing roses against the front of the house have grown and flowered well, but urgently need their training wires. The native bed in the tank was not successful- I think that there was too much straight sand. The crowea died and the other plants have failed to thrive, so we will transplant them to the native area and maybe turn the old septic tank into a shallow pond with a protective grid cover. The fine bamboo looks beautiful, but the large bamboo suffered last Winter and will need chopping back and rejuvenating. The agapanthus bank recovered well after the severe Winter frosts and has provided another magnificent low-maintenance Summer display. We will definitely be looking after the cliveas this year, now that we know where they are! And the hydrangeas are as big as ever and obviously loved their heavy pruning last Winter. The bergenia edging on the path has worked well.BlogOneYearOnAg20%Reszd2015-12-27 17.39.52Fernery :
Not as successful as we would have liked. We suspect that area still gets too much sun, especially damaging on those 40 degree days! So we plan to move the fernery onto a shadier area close by, under the loquat trees. Eventually, we hope to have a large rainwater tank in this corner. We will also have to protect the new Wheel of Fire and NSW Christmas bush from the early Winter frosts.Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-23 11.03.06

Old Shed :
Most of the old-fashioned roses planted so far have grown and flowered well, though some are a little slower. This Winter, we plan to plant out the remaining gaps with the rose cuttings struck last Winter. The tree dahlias will need heavy mulching as well to protect them from the frost, but even though they are so seemingly fragile and succumb so easily, their dramatic displays make them worth keeping and they do keep coming back every year, so they are not that much effort!BlogSummersplendrs20%ReszdIMG_2514I would love to plant Albertine against a rose trellis the length of the shed back wall, where it will look stunning each year. We also want to construct an entrance arch for 2 yellow Noisettes next to the cumquats. And I still hope to find my Golden Hornet crabapple, which I will plant in line and next to the Gorgeous variety, which we were mistakenly sold! Ross has found the stink bugs on the cumquat trees a bit of a challenge, so will spray the trees with Eco-Oil this Winter and investigate a pyrethrum spray for next Summer. We will also have to research organic controls of the 28 spotted potato ladybird larvae, cabbage moth and grasshoppers.

While I have been writing this review, I have also been writing a separate list of all the garden tasks, which need to be done and it’s a long one!!! But that is what is so great about having our own garden again. It’s an endless source of things to do, as well as inspiration, pleasure and enjoyment, and we love it! Finally, the promised description of our first monthly feature plant!

Agapanthus (also known as African Lily, Lily-of-the-Nile)

Nothing spells Summer as much as a cool sea of blue agapanthus, with the odd white one thrown in!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 13.35.37
It is the only genus in the subfamily Agapanthoideae in the Flowering Plant family Amaryllidaceae, which is the major group in the Angiosperms and has 79 genera. Agapanthus are herbaceous and mainly perennial and bulbous flowering plants in the Monocot order Asparagales and include : Alliums, Cliveas, Crinum, Galanthus and Leucojum, Narcissi, Hemerocallis, Hippeastrums, Nerines and Zephyranthus.BlogOneYearOnAg20%ReszdIMG_5203Their name comes from the Greek : αγάπη (agape) = love, άνθος (anthos) = flower.They are native to Southern Africa, but are now naturalized throughout the world.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-08 17.06.07There are six species (though some sources say 10) : A. africanus, A. campanulatus, A. caulescens, A. coddii, A. inapertus and A. Praecox. There are also many cultivars and hybrids of A. Africanus and A. praecox. The most commonly seen species is Agapanthus praecox subspecies orientalis.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 18.30.44
They can be very invasive. In New Zealand, A.praecox is classed as an environmental weed. Agapanthus is also considered to be a weed in some parts of Victoria. Therefore, it is best to remove their spent flower heads to prevent seed formation, especially if you are close to native bushland. Better still, plant sterile varieties like ‘Black Pantha’, which don’t set seed.

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Hitch hiking on the Princes Highway!
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Escapees from a driveway on the Candelo-Bega Rd.

The perennial Agapanthus grows from an underground rhizome each year. Agapanthus species and cultivars have long, strap-like, fleshy leaves that form dense clumps of evergreen or deciduous foliage. In Summer (November – January), tall stems (up to 1m tall) tower over the foliage bearing large rounded umbels of bell-shaped or tubular flowers, in shades of blue to purple or white. Bold and architectural, their flowering stalks are also simple and elegant. Dwarf and miniature varieties up to 45cm tall also exist.BlogSummersplendrs20%Reszd2015-12-19 10.04.42Flowers are sensitive to ethylene gas, so vases should be kept away from ripening fruit. It can last up to 2 weeks in a vase. It means ‘Love Letter’ in the Language of Flowers.BlogSummersplendrs20%Reszd2015-12-15 10.08.48
They are propagated by seed or clump division in Winter. Split clumps every 4-5 years for best results. If growing in a pot, use a smaller pot, as they prefer their roots overcrowded. Their foliage forms an excellent groundcover and they can also be used as a low border along a path, driveway or fence.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 19.03.26
They are tough and hardy, heat- and drought-tolerant, as well as being very pest-hardy and are tolerant of poor soil, wind and salty air, so are good for coastal gardens. They are very easy to grow and virtually indestructible, except with very heavy frosts. They can be protected with mulch, but they still bounce back as the Summer progresses anyway. Snails like them. They are said to thrive on neglect, but flower far better with full sun, good drainage and regular watering.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-12 19.11.43
Parts of the agapanthus plant are sometimes used for medicinal purposes. Agapanthus contains several saponins and sapogenins that generally have anti-inflammatory , anti-oedema (swelling due to accumulation of fluid), antitussive (relieves or suppresses coughing) and immunoregulatory  properties. Agapanthus has been used medicinally for cardiac complaints. In South Africa, its roots are boiled in water to produce a tonic for pregnant women to promote contractions during labour. Expectant mothers sometimes wear charms made from the dried roots to ensure healthy babies.
However, the sap contains substances that can irritate skin or mucous membranes and causes severe ulceration of the mouth. Obviously, it doesn’t worry this little nectar-sucking Eastern Spinebill!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-24 12.37.58My darling daughter painted us this exquisite watercolour of two of our favourite things- flowers and butterflies- to celebrate our first year in our beautiful home. She is so talented and we feel very lucky to be the recipients of such a beautiful gift!BlogOneYearOnAg20%Reszd2016-01-12 17.28.16















Late Summer

We started planning the garden in earnest in February : Looking away from the house to the bottom of the garden and facing east, a dominant circular decorative bed for the Soho roses and other ornamentals; a hedge of white deciduous shrubs to provide contrast to the colour of the Soho bed and screen off the more utility sections of the garden (but deciduous so they don’t shade the cutting garden behind during the Winter!) ; a central path extending the length of the garden and demarcated at either end by 2 green steel arches of climbing roses and clematis; 2 cutting gardens of bulbs and flowers either side of the central axis with a glasshouse on the northern edge; 2 vegetable gardens for vegies and berries with a compost bay on the shady side and finally a chook palace at the bottom of the garden beside the mulberry tree !Blog Late Summer20%Reszd2015-02-06 12.21.21Ross (my wonderful husband and Chief Gardener !) hoed a crop circle around the old sundial, given to us as a wedding present by my sister, to determine the placement of the Soho Bed , then we laid down old torn packing case cardboard to suppress the grass. The start of a new garden is always such an exciting time, full of dreams and great promise !Blog Late Summer20%Reszd2015-02-06 12.45.24Blog Late Summer20%Reszd2015-03-03 14.47.16It is so wonderful having free time again after the last 18 months working full-time on computers and even though the budget is very tight, it is great being able to garden, bake and sew again! We have resumed making our own no- knead bread and biscuits  and I made a lemon coconut heart- shaped cake and a special card for my love on Valentine’s Day. I decorated the cake with a single bloom of Chateau de Clos Vouget (1920), one of the three roses initially here. There is also a huge old yellow Banksia rose over the outdoor eating area and on the street-side  of the house is another climbing rose, as yet unidentified,  until  gets its first flower for the season.Blog Late Summer20%ReszdIMG_2767Blog Late Summer20%Reszd2015-02-27 13.46.46

I also assembled a treasure chest-of-drawers from Kaiser Craft papers to hold all my decorative embellishments for my future sewing projects.Blog Late Summer20%Reszd2015-01-31 15.56.30