• Jon Ruwolt

Which Garden Designers preceded Edna Walling's Green Gardens?

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

​​Garden Historian Chris Betteridge wrote in the final chapter of "Towards the Dawn" (Federation Architecture in Australia 1890-1915) that Melbourne's Marilyn McBriar in her unpublished thesis (of 1980) had analysed a selection of Melbourne gardens of the Federation period, and concluded there were two main styles of Garden design in the Federation Period: (but we now recognise three styles)

Redcourt House and garden in Armadale Victoria

1. The old-fashioned Formal style, promoted by renowned author William Robinson (UK) and in Australia by famous designers William Guilfoyle (Victoria's famous Botanic Garden designer), and Charles Bogue-Luffman, who built up the successful Burnley School of Horticulture in Victoria.

Forest Lodge, Stirling, home of architect Walter Bagot (SA)

2. The Natural, Informal or Landscape style favoured by expert Melbourne Arts and Crafts trained architect Walter Butler. and later championed by the famous designer and author Edna Walling.

Interestingly, all these garden gurus were born in England, and we can thank Victoria gold-rush wealth for their emigration to Australia to improve their futures.

Edna Walling's garden

The third style we now recognise is of course, Mixed style of both Formal and Informal.

I have pulled together all the available information about Federation Gardens and put that together at the page: https://www.federation-house.info/federation-gardens.

Style indicators of formal Federation gardens:

Formal Federation garden style
  1. Artificial form of garden.

  2. Garden forms a set of outdoor rectangular rooms to the house, often with use of terracing to accentuate the house predominance.

  3. Sense of enclosure through walls, hedges, fences, trellises, pergolas, arches, etc., as spatial dividing design components.

  4. Land manipulation artificial in appearance with straight lines, defined angles, sunken gardens.

  5. Formal Style is currently favoured by the celebrated society landscaper Paul Bangay.