Edna Walling

International Women’s Day is nearly over but, for my contribution, I’ve still got about 25 minutes to write something about Edna Walling (1895 – 1973), a British Australian landscape gardener whose work I find especially interesting. I would also say beautiful except that, since her work is in Australia, I have only seen it in photos, plans and a book about her called, The Unusual Life of Edna Walling, by Sara Hardy.

Edna was born in Yorkshire, lived till her teens in Devon and then moved to Australia via a few years in New Zealand. She developed the ideas of Gertrude Jekyll and others in the very different climate and context of Australia. She is sometimes called Australia’s finest gardener.

Her early garden designs could be quite structured but with delicate planting enclosing lawns and outside rooms. Like Jekyll, she was very good with plants and, to my eyes, she seemed to work outwards from the planting to the garden. She blended the best of the English garden with the Australian and became increasingly concerned about qualities of the natural environment in her later years.

Author AYArktos, Creative Commons
Author AYArktos, Creative Commons

She designed Markdale, near Crookwell in New South Wales in 1947 and the three photographs above (from Wikipedia) show the wonderful subtlety of her planting and landscaping. There is also a Pinterest page full of photos HERE.

She also designed a garden village, called Bickleigh Vale, Mooroolbark on the outskirts of Melbourne, a place where she also lived. Garden villages (also suburbs and cities) were truly great inventions which benefited people’s lives. However, most were architect led where the building element had a natural priority. So, while each house or group of houses were individually designed, the gardens were just green plots to be cultivated, or possibly not. Trees and hedges might be the only aspect of actual garden design. In her tiny garden village of Bickleigh Vale, Edna reversed this by designing the gardens and houses together to create a true Garden of Eden environment. Here is the village website and details of the gardens and houses.

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