Earth inspires Mudgee ceramicist Virginia Moffatt. Clay is the medium for her artistic expression, and nurturing of the soil underpins the success of her wonderful Australian native garden.
Australian native plants are beautifully balanced with a limited, harmonious selection of exotics. The diversity of plant types creates a bushland-like effect in Virginia’s town garden.
A long term commitment to soil building, particularly mulching, has paid dividends, and has been complemented by attention to details- research, gathering seeds, and experimenting with native plant propagation techniques.
Eremophilas, hakea, kangaroo paw, grevilleas and eucalypts, banksias, bottlebrush, form the basis of the garden. Shady protected areas form a haven for birds nest ferns and rock lily orchids.
Interesting complexity is achieved by clustering of different varieties of selected plant types, such as these banksias.
A huge Eucalyptus alba forms an enveloping presence on the western boundary and defines the character of the garden. Light and shade are carefully managed, enabling plants to flourish and bloom beneath the canopy of stately eucalypts. Medium height trees let the sun in- casuarinas, bottlebrushes, slender eucalypts.
Much attention has been given to contrasting colours and textures.
The vibrant colours of some natives’ flowers are striking against silvery foliage.
Delicacy can be a surprise, with some native varieties, such as this exquisite standard weeping grevillea.
Occasional lush green grassy spaces are separated by islands and pathways of pale grey crushed limestone. An enchanting chiaroscuro effect is created by fine foliage under the dappled shade of huge, established eucalypts.
Virginia’s personal presence is felt, as her signature ceramic houses and organic shaped sculptures form a binding thread throughout the garden.
Virginia developed her interest in gardening when she saw the outback landscape for the first time. “I was inspired by Broken Hill when I went out there to work- I was fascinated by all the strange plants that I’d never seen before.”
More recently, Virginia was blown away by the colours of Western Australian wildflowers, and the way the plant varieties change as the landscape and soils change. Returning to Mudgee, she’s been working to replicate some of what she saw in WA- starting with propagation techniques. So far, Virginia has successfully raised kunzea from seed.
Virginia shows me a silvery eucalypt near her front gate. It’s been well trimmed as she has been happy to give foliage to anyone who wants it for floral arrangements. “What I love about gardening is the sharing.”
Virginia says: “I need to bond with my plants. Tube stock is best- they’re young and I can bond with them right from the start. I keep myself together by gardening. ”
As I’m leaving, Virginia takes a break from her studio, where she’s working on a large clay sculpture, to take a relaxing walk through her lovely, inspirational garden.