A new year in the garden
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A new year in the garden

It's New Year's-resolution time and with four truckloads of a neighbour's excavated soil now piled high at my place, my intentions are firm. I am going to cover these free-draining mounds with all the floriferous WA plants that wouldn't give my poorly drained clay the time of day.

Here's the low-down on other people's gardening-related intentions.

Chris Findlay, far left, and his team from Flora Victoria, in Keilor.

Chris Findlay, far left, and his team from Flora Victoria, in Keilor.

Kirsten Bradley, of permaculture enterprise Milkwood in Hepburn

To better label my tomato seedlings! It's quite devastating to steward them all the way from seed and then accidentally plant sprawling romas where the climbing oxhearts are meant to be. I thought they were all labelled clearly, but reality says otherwise.
My other resolution is to plant more flowers – I say this every year, but I don't think you can have too many flowers in a vegie garden. There's always a nook to plant another few, and since flowers make everything better, I'll make that resolution yet again.

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Peter Leigh from Post Office Farm Nursery in Ashbourne, Victoria.

Peter Leigh from Post Office Farm Nursery in Ashbourne, Victoria. Credit:Josh Robenstone

Claire Takacs, garden photographer

To photograph gardens in European areas with Mediterranean climates. Noel Kingsbury (the British writer and designer best known for his promotion of naturalistic planting design) has moved to Portugal, which is a kind of unexplored area, and I am looking to work with him there and in Spain. Also on my radar is a trip to see Olivier Filippi's garden and nursery (dedicated to dry-tolerant plants) in southern France. I think with climate change we need to look more at dry areas. I am also hoping to go to the Millennium Forest (a 240-hectare naturalistic park) on Hokkaido, in Japan.

Jack Latti, garden designer and ceramicist

To extend my garden all the way around my swimming pool. The previous owners wanted to have a tropical look whereas I want something that feels more like South Africa (where I grew up) with lots of orange, yellow and red flowers in winter. I am going to dig up two Canary Island date palms, two fan palms and some lawn and put in Aloe x spinosissima and the sea urchin aloe. I am already growing these in other parts of the garden and I probably have 20 rosettes of each to transplant. By keeping it just to two types of aloe I can also put in some of my ceramic objects without detracting from the view to bushland and the Kinglake Ranges. I also want to build an adobe-style chook pen with expanded steel mesh and cement render.

Annette Warner earlier this year with her exhibition on landscape designer Gordon Ford.

Annette Warner earlier this year with her exhibition on landscape designer Gordon Ford.Credit:Simon Schluter

Peter Leigh, of the Post Office Farm Nursery, which is devoted solely to the genus Helleborus

To do justice to the amazing work of the Japanese breeders I have met. Next winter a batch of new hellebores imported from Japan will be flowering for the first time and my task will be to use this genetic material in our own breeding program. The challenge is having the attention to detail, imagination and (mostly) good luck to come up with a hellebore that is sufficiently new or improved on those we already have.

Ceramicist and gardener Jack Latti in his garden in Research.

Ceramicist and gardener Jack Latti in his garden in Research.Credit:Simon Schluter

Pauline Reynolds, co-convenor of the Friends of George Street Reserve in Sandringham

To keep the reserve carefully cared for because it is very fragile. After the big (unplanned) fire at George Street in 2006, there was a regeneration of plants, including a couple that are regionally rare and have not been seen in any of the other bayside reserves. It is quite difficult to keep these plants healthy but we will try. It would be lovely to find others appearing too. A (planned) environmental burn would be very good but I think that we will have to wait another year for that.

Photographer Caire Takacs at work photographing Great Dixter in Britain.

Photographer Caire Takacs at work photographing Great Dixter in Britain.Credit:Thomas Gooch

Annette Warner, landscape architect and horticulturalist

To consider gardening as a "slow art". Growing up, I was inspired by my mother's efforts to garden. Coaxed from the difficult soils of central Victoria, her gardens surprised me with their abundance of foliage, flowers and fruit. Coaxing often resulted in failure but I learnt persistence is key to this approach, and while the legacy of her experiments is imperfectly engraved on my memory, that sense of horticulture as a "slow art" will guide my hand in the year ahead.

Heather Hesterman and her Mobile Forest

Heather Hesterman and her Mobile ForestCredit:Thomas Gooch

Heather Hesterman, artist and landscape designer, who has made a "Mobile Forest" that she is currently "taking out for walks" in the City of Hume.

To keep my Mobile Forest healthy so that it can be planted at Newbury Primary School in Craigieburn, a relatively new school in need of more plants. I will also keep working on another art project that looks at how we relate to different species of plants. For this, I want to source some hardy trees, shrubs and ground covers and, over five weeks, to invite schools and community groups to take them away to plant. For me, gardening relates to the democracy of taking a cutting and passing it on – gifting and grafting. I want to raise awareness of plants and to extend our relationship with them.

Kirsten Bradley (with partner Nick Ritar)  from Milkwood.

Kirsten Bradley (with partner Nick Ritar) from Milkwood.Credit:Kate Berry

Chris Findlay, of native grass specialists Flora Victoria, Keilor

To experiment with different seeding rates and site preparations for wildflowers to make highly visual flowering grasslands. Hopefully, by the end of 2019, we will be able to create beautiful indigenous flowering grasslands on any site without scalping (removing the top layer of soil) or spraying herbicides.


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