Phillip Johnson’s Dandenong garden7th November 2014 • Stephanie's Blog • Stephanie Donaldson
Regular 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 The usual Aussie offering of an ‘outdoor entertaining space’ had been replaced by a garden that was an interpretation of the natural landscapes of billabongs, rocky outcrops and wildflowers that inspire its designer Phillip Johnson.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.