Garden, signed by the artist

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Interesting complexity is achieved by clustering of different varieties of selected plant types, such as these banksias.

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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.

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The vibrant colours of some natives’ flowers are striking against silvery foliage.

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Delicacy can be a surprise, with some native varieties, such as this exquisite standard weeping grevillea.

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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.

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Virginia’s personal presence is felt, as her signature ceramic houses and organic shaped sculptures form a binding thread throughout the garden.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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. ”

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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.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. A beautiful garden and even more wonderful that she is able to maintain it in this drought! Congratulations all round. Mel

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      Thanks Mel, yes, it’s a great example of the best that a native garden can be.

      1. Something to aspire to.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Is Eucalyptus alba comparable to Eucalyptus globulus? Eucalyptus globulus has a very bad reputation here, but I still adore it because I grew up with it. There are two pollarded specimens here just for the foliage. (One is ‘Compacta’.) I have heard of Eucalyptus alba, but not seen it.

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      Hi Tony, I don’t think they would be comparable based on the habitats they grow in. But I’m willing to be corrected on that!

      1. tonytomeo says:

        I am a Californian in California, so am not qualified to provide correction. I grew up with blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), so had always assumed that is was from a chaparral climate. I only recently learned that it is jut happy in a foggy coastal climate, which is why it does so well on the coast and around San Francisco here.

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