A Smorgasbord of Beautiful Madness

These are strange times. There’s plenty to lament. Plenty to worry about. Plenty to grieve. But there’s so much to be grateful for, too. So much beauty. So much wonder. So much growth. And in growth lies hope.

The garden is one of the best places to be reminded of the wonder and potential and awesomeness of life. And so, in the interest of offering a green balm for sore souls, here’s a collection of vibrant and overgrown, austere and mad, beautiful and restorative gardens from Daniel Shipp and my many years of inviting ourselves over to strangers gardens for a cup of tea and a garden walk/talk.

‘Any time we’d be in the garden or the bush, Mum’s face would light up. Her love of nature made a very strong impression on me.’ – PETER MILES
‘I don’t want to hear someone say: ‘Wow, I really love the way you designed that bench!’ I mean, that’s nice but what I really want someone to say is: ‘I love how this garden makes me feel.’ That’s the most important thing.’ – DANIEL BAFFSKY
‘When I moved up here I started playing golf, but that soon ended. The garden took over.’ – BRYAN HARDY
‘Being a gardener provides a sense of connection to the world around me. It connects me to the past in a very personal way, and also the wider context of Earth’s changing landscape. It connects me to the future too – gardeners are always looking ahead. I feel so lucky, and often wonder how seemingly sane people manage without it!’ – FELICITY JONES
‘Part of art is knowing when to stop—when have you finished writing, painting, gardening? It’s a path to insanity but it’s also quite fun asking well, why isn’t this thing perfect? I feel the same way with the garden, in working out where a rock should ideally be.’
‘To me the act of gardening is totally immersive and hypnotising. It takes me deeply into the realms of subconscious and represents beauty, love and freedom. I am interested in creating gardens that connect people to the feelings in their bodies of past memories, to help them feel safe and uplifted in the joy and beauty of nature.’ – JO FERGUSON
‘…you don’t have to look so far to find something beautiful. It’s right here, it’s all around us.’ – SOPHIE TATLOW
‘I enjoy the aesthetics but am more interested in the challenge of learning how to grow something – learning its nuances, how to propagate it, and how to do it extremely well – that’s what excites me.’ – DAVID FRIPP
‘Doing physical work in the garden – planting, pruning, building, making art – helps me relax. It’s a place where the worries of the world wash away. It’s very important to me to have this kind of respite in my life.’ – MICHAEL BATES
‘It’s a bit insane, trying to create a tropical garden in semi-tropical Southeast Queensland. Sometimes things grow and sometimes they don’t. You just have to be patient, and if it doesn’t work, take it out and replace it with something else’ – SEBASTIAN DI MAURO
‘Gardening is a mental exercise which is different to painting. It’s something that’s never finished and I never intend it to be finished. It’s hard work but it pays off – I think it just suits me.’ – LUCY CULLITON
‘Plants are our main interest. If we go to a new place, we head straight to the nursery or botanic gardens, and if we hear of a good nursery, we go there. We like to nursery hop!’ – JILL COLLINS
‘You can have pale things in a garden but you need the strength of real colours too. Colours like deep pink, purple, limes. The vulgar and the divine!’ – PHOEBE STEPHENS
‘Edna Walling always said gardens should be just a bit bigger than they needed so you couldn’t control them entirely.’ – PETER WATTS

Post cover image is of Kiloren, an Edna Walling designed garden at Crookwell, formerly owned by Jennie and Rob Churchill.