Garden, Gardens

colour by numbers: a mornington grassy garden gallery

Claire Takacs/
Calamagrostis 'Karl Forster'.

Fred and Anna Sanders were on the lookout for the right location to build their dream house when they found a parcel of land in the undulating hinterland of the Mornington Peninsula, an hour south of the Australian city of Melbourne. As soon as they drove onto the site, they knew they’d found a place to call home. Almost a hectare in size, the plot was surrounded by national parkland and blessed with sweeping views out to Port Phillip Bay. It also boasted a 50-year-old dam, which was later enlarged to create a lake that now covers a quarter of the property, forming a spectacular water feature around which the Sanders’ new abode has been built.

Once their home was complete, they enlisted landscape designer Robert Boyle to create a garden that would harmonise with the house and its surrounds. Boyle’s first task was to remove the ghostly trunks of gums that had withered and died. In their place, he created an over-storey with native Australian trees such as weeping lilly pilly, Hill’s weeping fig, flowering and lemon-scented gums, and deciduous species including maples (Acer ‘October Glory’ and Acer ‘Autumn Blaze’), Chinese elm and ‘Moss White’ silver birch.

‘I wanted the garden to blend in with its surrounds, but that didn’t mean all the plants had to be natives. Introducing other species can enrich the environment. We just had to make sure that they were drought-tolerant.’ – Robert Boyle

The Sanders’ property is a classic example of what Boyle aims to achieve. ‘If a garden is too formal, it makes you feel like you need a dinner suit,’ he says. ‘I love gardens that are relaxed, which blend softly and gently into the landscape.’

This is an excerpt from our May Craft issue, enjoy the read on pages 90–95. 

browse a gallery of unpublished photographs with grasses similar to local plants

Helichrysum in the foreground, Acer tree on the left.

Japanese Maple tree.

Clump forming festuca grass.

Mix of locally available grasses fringe the path.

Clipped Helichrysum cymosum mounds.

Mounds of Helichrysum cymosum.

Tulbachia amongst rocks, clump forming Carex specie and feathery pennisetum.