EVERY now and then I visit a garden that makes me want to drop everything and just work in my garden.
I'm so envious of the expansive lawns, beautifully maintained hedges, and plantings so lush and dense that there are no weeds to be seen.
Every plant seems to be positioned in exactly the right spot, shining in its own right and complementing its neighbours.
The people who create these gardens have an extraordinary ability to group plants and combine them so that the effect is almost overwhelmingly beautiful.
Indeed, sometimes I leave such a garden full of despair rather than inspiration, as I realise just how much more work lies ahead of me."
I wrote those paragraphs four years ago, having just spent a magical hour or so enjoying a tour of David Lane's garden.
A few days ago, I returned to see just what has been happening in David's garden since then.
Once again, I left with my gardening soul in complete torment. How could such a busy person create and maintain such a beautiful place? And why can't I?
David is a well-established artist whose paintings are represented in public and private collections throughout Australia and internationally.
He began creating this garden in Tintenbar more than 30 years ago on a derelict dairy farm, converting the old dairy building into a home and studio.
The site has some natural advantages, including beautiful soil, a permanent spring-fed creek, and an abundance of rocks from which David has built an alarming number of rock walls.
But its main advantage is the natural ability and sheer hard work of the gardener.
Not surprisingly, the garden has evolved since my last visit.
The front patio has been considerably enlarged to create a beautiful, weather proof space from which one can enjoy the garden and surrounds.
What makes this garden so lovely? David has kindly shared some tips.
First, work with what you've got and choose plants to suit the position.
The soil here is very rich and moist, so grevilleas don't thrive but hydrangeas, camellias and plenty of other things do.
Use mass plantings and repetition to create impact and a sense of unity.
In this garden, you'll find hundreds of agapanthus, masses of Shasta daisies as a groundcover, large clumps of flax, and plenty of dahlias and hydrangeas. But the effect is far from boring.
Instead, the repetition leads the eye further and further, linking the various parts of the garden.
Embrace those common plants that will thrive with little care. David's plant care philosophy is that plants are like family.
They need care and discipline to achieve their full potential. Look after them well, but don't let them run riot!
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