The importance of garden design

Even those gardens that appear wild have been planned in some way; the best have benefitted from skilled design. The October 2023 issue of Australian Garden History introduces garden designers of the past and present.

Landscape architect, Ben Hardy-Clements, argues that, if we are to improve city living, we must ‘start by contemplating the delicate balance between our desire for a connection with nature and our approaches to manipulating and simplifying it to fit within our urban landscapes’. He explains how architect Claud Hamilton (1892–1943) did this in the garden of an interwar apartment block in Kings Cross in Sydney.

Australia has had successful female garden designers, the most famous being Edna Walling. Others deserve to be better known, including South Australian Elise Cornish. She designed the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, now one of the venues for Writers Week at the Adelaide Festival. Louise Bird introduces Cornish.

Lindsay Campbell, a garden designer in Tasmania, says his design practice is about optimising and improving people’s lifestyles. An extract of an interview with him appears on the back cover and is another example of how rich a resource is the AGHS’s oral history collection.

The front cover is the creation of Lily Vodic-Senior, a year 12 student at Newcastle High School. She has recreated the thorn tree (Vachellia karroo) that once stood on the bank of the Hunter River in the suburb of Stockton. That place is now marked just by a simple plaque. Kate Senior tells of the fate of this escapee from Africa.

The Baron von Mueller Correspondence Project is a wonderful initiative of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. It is a searchable online database of the correspondence of Victoria’s first Government Botanist and Director of the Melbourne Botanic Garden. Drawing on these letters, John Dowe has explored von Mueller’s quest to introduce the gorgeous Verticordia oculata into ornamental horticulture. To find out if he succeeded, get your copy of the October issue of Australian Garden History!

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