Tag Archives: gardens to visit

Phillip Johnson’s Dandenong garden

looking up through the garden at Phillip Johnson's houseRegular readers of the blog will probably recall how much I loved the Australian garden that won Best in Show at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show. The usual Aussie offering of an ‘outdoor entertaining space’ had been replaced by a garden that was an interpretation of the natural landscapes of billabongs, rocky outcrops and wildflowers that inspire its designer Phillip Johnson. The garden was also one of the inspirations for our trip to Australia, so I was thrilled to visit Phillip’s own garden just north of Melbourne. His property sits high up in the Dandenong Ranges in the middle of towering eucalyptus forest with an understorey of lush tree ferns. The garden sits incredibly lightly on its land – if it wasn’t for the house and the curving boardwalks it might be mistaken for an entirely natural part of the landscape with waterfalls cascading over water worn rocks, crystal clear billabongs and lush tree ferns (we saw many similar landscapes on our travels). Phillip is passionate about creating gardens that have as low an impact as possible on the environment, that provide habitats for indigenous flora and fauna, conserve water and are as fire resistant as is possible in this land where fire is an ever-present danger. Visiting Phillip’s garden was a highlight of our visit to Australia and the design principles that he uses are applicable anywhere in the world where gardeners would like their garden to make a positive contribution to the wider environment. Since returning home I have been devouring the newly published ‘Connected – the sustainable landscapes of Phillip Johnson’ (£25 Murdoch Books) – it’s a great and thought provoking read from an exciting and inspiring garden designer. natural looking garden poolslooking back over the pools from the house
kookaburra in a tree at Phillip Johnson's housedeep red flower in bloom in Australian gardenan outdoor shower beneath towering fernsan architectural fern unfurling softer planting against a fern

Garden Sleepovers


The latest edition of Alastair Sawday’s ‘Special Places to stay in Britain for Garden Lovers’ has just been published.  It is crammed full of lovely houses to stay in, with wonderful gardens to wander through.  If I could work out a way to get my garden to look after itself, I could spend months wandering round the country visiting them. £12.99  plus £2.99 p&p from www.sawdays.co.uk

Open Garden

Despite steady rain in the morning, the visitors proved themselves to be a hardy lot and by the end of the day over 730 enthusiasts had been to inspect the garden. Gradually the weather improved and eventually the sky was a cloudless blue.  The visitors said many lovely things, a substantial amount of money was raised for the Hospice and we  were happy that our efforts had all been worthwhile.  With our many narrow paths in the garden we again used a one way system which meant that there was none of the damage that happens when people are pushing past one another in different directions. A tip to remember.