In Linda's garden

Sunday, 02 November 2014

Alocasia macrorrhiza in the garden of Linda Macaulay

In a street not far from where I live, a garden has been created with great energy and enthusiasm over the last few years, and on 22 and 23 November it will be open to the public under the Open Gardens Australia program for the first time. Linda Macaulay will be sharing her vision of a Sydney style of gardening that is unique to our climate, with our ability to grow semi-tropical plants alongside more traditional choices such as roses and some cottagey perennials, to produce a site full interest in every season (not just spring!), which has evolved by trying many different plants to see how they perform.

Winding paths lead through the garden

The large sloping block has been terraced with sandstone rocks, and winding paths lead the visitor between generously sized beds planted with an eye for form and colour. Lavishly massed plants sculpt the spaces and define the lines of the garden, providing a feeling of strong design and cohesion, yet there is a great variety of different plants to enjoy as the visitor wanders along the pathways.

There are a number of roses in the garden

Exuberant plantings of roses, daylilies, Salvia, Cuphea, Alstroemeria and cottage perennials such as Tradescantia hybrids (including a dwarf form I had never seen before), daisies, scented-leaf Pelargonium and Scabiosa fill the sunny areas, whilst in shadier parts of the garden, mature Camellia shrubs, a number of Plectranthus and many Acanthaceae specimens, including Odontonema tubaeforme, Justicia species and various Strobilanthes, provide blooms in different seasons.

Some of the many bromeliads growing in the shade

Much of the strength of the garden lies in the use of decorative foliage plants that look fabulous all year round. Under a magnificent redwood tree at one side of the garden is a breathtaking collection of bromeliads, the leaves of which form a wonderful tapestry of hues and patterns, where few other plants could survive. Elsewhere, the coloured foliage of plants such as crimson Iresine herbstii, apricot-splashed Acalypha, gold-leaf Pelargonium, silvery Plectranthus 'Nicoletta' and white-variegated Iris japonica provide long-lasting effects. A simply enormous form of elephant's ears (Alocasia macrorrhiza) forms a dramatic picture in a shaded area (pictured at the start of the blog).

Whimsical sculptures such as this stone fish add a sense of fun to the garden

Unusual sculptures are used as focal points in different areas and add a playful element to the garden, and groupings of giant pots are effectively employed to hold feature plants. Seats through the garden invite the visitor to stop and enjoy the ambience of the setting.

Recycling and sustainability are important to Linda, with compost bins and tumblers to deal with garden prunings, and worm farms to consume kitchen waste: the resulting organic material is returned to the soil to sustain the lush growth of the plants. Some exotic chickens are a recent addition, and vegetables are grown in the front garden. There is much to inspire and enjoy in this vibrant garden, which is a testament to Linda's firm belief in the physical, psychological and social benefits of the pursuit of gardening!