Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Garden Bliss

An olive underplanted with Salvia Nemorosa 'Blauhugel' (syn.S. 'Blue Hills'), the spires of
Acanthus mollis in the background

We’ve had a week of insane weather – last Saturday I awoke to rain, hail and wind and winter temperatures but by Tuesday we were back to fine spring weather and as my Mum was visiting from New Zealand I decided that we’d take a little family jaunt out to Lambley Nursery and Gardens. So we packed a picnic and ourselves into the car and headed off.

I've been having a very hectic time of late and I couldn't have made a better decision. The day as you can see was perfect, the garden sparkling and there were only a few people about. My son made friends with Jedda the Labrador dog (picnic lunch nevers goes astray in making friends with a lab) and they both lounged beneath a cherry tree while Mum and I explored the gardens.

I not only take my hat off to David Glenn his wife the artist Criss Canning and the nursery staff but deliver them a low sweeping bow. How they maintain such a magnificent garden in such trying conditions is quite beyond me. The garden and nursery are located on the Western Plains of Victoria where the climate is by any estimation harsh. Strong winds, heavy frosts, searing heat - all are factors at various times of the year. And yet the plants thrive through all of this while receiving only three to four (deep) waterings a year.

Of course the plant selection is masterful. The plants on offer are great performers in difficult conditions. This is not always so of plants I have sourced. There is nothing worse than buying a plant or plants which one believes to be suitable to certain conditions to find that it will in fact only perform well when molly coddled within an inch of its (or your) life. "Good doers" is what most of us require in a plant but in our dreams the doers are magnificent, beautiful and breath taking and this is what Lambley provides.

Plant selection is assisted through David Glenn's concise descriptions in the catalogue and on plant labels. He gives the most useful information not only about colour but plant form, soil requirements and drought tolerance.

But back to the wonderful the garden - the garden is contained by a tall hedge and structure is provided by this and judicially placed olives and cypress trees. At this time of year the garden's colour palette is awash in blues and purple tones with large blocks of salvias, lavender and globular heads of alliums. Contrasting tones of yellow and silver are also a prominent feature.

One of the most interesting things I find about the garden is the skillful plant combinations. During our visit I found a couple of plants which individually did not have much appeal for me but in combination with others their appeal was vastly boosted. Usually I find for me this works in reverse I can be sucked in the by appeal of an individual plant but find that unless I have the right visual companions the individual beauty is diminished.

Ixia amethystina and with the exquisite Yucca rostrata, Salvia nemorosa ssp tesquiccola and Allium

As in many parts of my life I need to learn to suspend judgement. In this example I found the colour of this plant quite jarring and almost unnatural. I was about to dismiss it but when I walked around and viewed it from another angle I found it had a very worthwhile contribution to make to a grouping. As illustrated the complimentary and contrasting forms and colours worked beautifully. I think I've said before this whole plant combination lark can be very challenging - an artist's eye like Criss Canning's is helpful.

An on that note I shall say no more but let the pictures do the talking. Except to say that David Glenn's garden notes on the Lambley website are worth a look for more detailed information.

Cynara scolymus 'Romanesco' Purple Globe Artichoke, Lupinus lonifolius to the right and

Acanthus mollis at the rear

Amongst others the remarkable red spires of Beschorneria septentrionalis or False Red Agave

Salvia sclarea collected in the Taurus mountains in Turkey - "to my mind the best of its race" David Glenn


lostlandscape said...

A beautiful garden with very interesting plant combinations--I especially like the masses of one color that are a slightly different shades of color from another block of color nearby. Thanks for sharing these pictures!

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Such beautiful pictures, they really make me miss the Australian spring! Wonderful plant combinations, and what an achievement given that they only water the garden so few times a year!