10 February 2012

Edna Walling

We've stayed at the same house at Lorne for many years, but this year for the first time I noticed that one of the books on the shelves was A Gardner's Log, by Edna Walling. This was first published in 1948, and is a collection of her articles from Australian Home Beautiful. The edition here was actually published in 2003 with a number of fresh photographs (as well as photographs from the intermediate editions, especially the 1985 edition).
The book is blog-like!   Of course Edna Walling is from another era but many of her notes, made in the course of the seasons, are still of interest.   They include suggestions under heading such as “Plants for Rock Gardens and Other Places”, “Garden Steps”, “Plant Hunting”, "April in Victoria" and “Roadside Beauty”. However, under these various headings there is a wealth of information about various plants and associated matters.
Just a few quotes at random: “I …. always feel that the part of a garden near the entrance should give the first sensation of rest to those returning home to those returning home. There is nothing very restful about masses of annuals, conjuring up, as they do, hours of labour, and much expenditure on seed, fertilisers and water.” (These displays, she thinks, should be kept for the rear of the house).
“After the architect and the interior decorator have finished with the client, the garden designer starts the battle of trying to achieve a fitting garden with what is left. The client is still there, but the funds, alas!”
“How to become a Landscape Gardner – Walks into the country provide the best lessons on landscape gardening. Notice how the trees are naturally grouped, how the ground-covering plants grow in drifts of different species round their feet, how boulders help to make up the natural scene, and how little tracks, made by cattle perhaps, wander about in lines that are never straight.” 
"I decided this morning that as there is neither the time nor inclination to trot around holding the hands of those plants that look up at you and gasp. "Water! I can't stand this heat another minute", I would take an inventory of those ground-covering plants that can take it."
"...[Q]uite often ... owners  [of flowering climbers] are puzzled as to manner in which they should be pruned and trained.   It is all very simple, the general rule being the same as for flowering shrubs:   prune immediately after flowering."    

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