Creating a new garden

There’s something special about having the opportunity to design and plant a new garden.  But how does one choose what to plant? What style of garden? And how does the garden evolve with time?

Lyn Bartlett and her husband moved to a farming property in the Adelaide Hills.  The garden around the house had been “eaten to the ground” by sheep, so they were keen to establish a new garden.

Female fairy wren. Photograph by Patrick Kavanagh. CC BY 2.0

I decided that I’d like to create an English type garden around this place.  I assumed that Meadows would have an English type climate because it was in the Hills and it was nice and moist and wet.  But I hadn’t planned on it being so windy, and unless you have high stone walls like England, things like foxgloves and campanulas and all of these tall growing things get blown over in the wind… Being a dairy farm, it had fences that were very close to the house and lots of big trees, cypresses and things, that we took out; …. we put a new fence out a bit further from the house, and I planted all these English type flowers and things and they looked good for the first few years until summer came and you had bursts of hot weather and wind, and they’d get really smashed around by the wind and the heat.  And the weeds would keep growing because surrounded by pastures the seeds blow over the fence and start growing, and I decided that ‘I think this is wrong.  It’s never going to be an area for an English type garden’.

Their plans for the garden changed over the years…

And I realise now that you should have things that can tolerate dry and lots of natives, and so I’ve actually let the garden go.  It’s wild and rambling.  Some people would have a fit if they could see it:  there’s tangled roses and everything.  The birds just love it.  I like birds, and the birds nest all over the place in the garden, all varieties of birds nest there, and I have birdbaths and they come to drink every day.  They provide an enormous amount of pleasure for me, and I watch the seasonal parade of all of the species courting each other, building their nests, laying their eggs, raising their chicks and then moving on, and then you see a lot of young birds, chicks from the previous spring, coming back over the summer months to drink at our birdbaths and it’s just lovely.

Quotes from oral history interview with Lyn Bartlett, courtesy of the State Library of South Australia (OH 829-8).

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