Landscaping inspiration and admiration

There’s been a pause in blogging while we dealt with Matt having both feet crushed in an earthmoving bucket – as one of the nurses said ‘I bet that didn’t tickle!’ He was incredibly lucky to escape as lightly as he did, with no serious ongoing damage and only a few weeks in a wheelchair, but the whole period was pretty full-on as we balanced convalescence, caring, work, and the new property and country routines. (I was about to write ‘study’ too, but my study was where most of the slack came from I think, so I’m now about seven weeks behind where I should be on my research).

I’ve been starting to landscape a few embankments around the shed area above the house site, and I’ll post some progress soon, but I thought I’d also share some of the designs I’m finding inspiring.

As a student and employee at the University of Melbourne I get to see new beds being developed, and I love the way the University is incorporating native plants into their designs. Two areas that I’ve recently taken notes from are the planting combinations near the 1888 building, and some fresh landscaping running between South Lawn and the library.

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The 1888 planting combines what looks like yarrow, saltbush, and flax lily as underplanting for some quite bare-trunked trees. Elsewhere I’ve seen lovely silvery gums rising from flax underplantings, and with those two images combining in my head I’m imagining a driveway avenue of shorter gums with beautiful silvery trunks underplanted with this mix of foliage and flowers to soften the edges of our driveway. (Then I think about access during bushfires, and scrap the flaming gums crashing across the driveway – back to the drawing board!)

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And for our steep banks that already have a number of boulders, these retaining wall/bench combinations of wood and stone look just the ticket.

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This was taken very soon after they were finished, so I’ll have to check back in once the plants develop. Lots of interesting looking native creepers and groundcovers. But I love the way the rocks are submerged and placed – plenty to contemplate when designing.

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Finally, we’re currently plotting an outdoor hot tub up on the hill, and I’ve been drawing great inspiration from Grace Design Associates’ work in California, both for that project and for their other design work.


I can just imagine sitting in our (far less luxe) version of a hot tub, checking out our view. But despite the necessity for a more DIY approach to this project, I’m still getting some good ideas of how we could plant and pave around whatever solution we do come up with!

Starting fresh

In December 2015, my boyfriend Matt and I bought 40 acres near Tallarook.

We need to build a house before we’re allowed to live there, although there is a very well-equipped shed on the site already. So for now we get to spend the time that we do have at the property marvelling at our views, chipping away at long-term projects like revegetating remnant bushland or stabilising eroding banks, planning what we might eventually do for some of the big ticket items like housebuilding, suggesting schemes that range from fairly mild (build a mountainbiking track) to reasonably wild (convert a grain silo into a writers’ cabin/spare bedroom and stash it up on the hill where there are even better views), and pottering around doing right-now projects like growing vegetables or building things.

Morning over the Goulburn Valley

This blog is in many ways for me; it will make me document progress, lack of progress, and hopefully keep compelling me to take photos (and ideally take better photos) as the place evolves – already I can see how quickly it will change, and how hard it’ll be to remember how it once was. And how quickly things that are novel (kangaroo tail prints on the driveway!) become normal. It’s nice to look back and remember how exciting things were, I think it helps keep you in a state of wonder.

It’s also for family and friends who want to check in with our progress. I’ll make sure there’s a tag just for them so that they can read the condensed, progress-only version without having to wade through my gardening updates!

And as with all blogs it’s also for someone out there who might be wondering what it’s like to live a different life to their own, to see that others face entirely recognisable and entirely unfamiliar challenges in their life, both of which I find equally comforting when I’m reading others’ blogs!