Mediterranean Garden Society
The Victoria Branch of the MGS
The objective of the Victorian branch is to give MGS members some value locally, in addition to the benefits they receive internationally. To this end, we aim to hold four to five events each year and send out an electronic newsletter with a similar frequency. Most of the local events are visits to private gardens, including an annual plant exchange. A major benefit of these events is to enable people to learn from each other’s experience of local conditions, expand our plant knowledge and get new ideas. The newsletter usually also contains other items of interest, such as news of local events beyond the society.
Our Branch Head is Malcolm Faul (biography) and prospective and new members are encouraged to make contact with him by email
The photograph at the top of this page shows Grevillea victoriae, the royal grevillea, which is endemic to Australia’s Victoria state. It was first described by botanist Ferdinand von Mueller in 1855 and was duly named after Australia’s Empress of the day, Queen Victoria..
7 April - Mornington Peninsula
Two Members’ gardens
This is a special day for visiting gardens of two members who have great visions for their gardens. The Cooke garden has matured, while Josephine is well on the way to realising her grand plan.
Graham and Leslie Cooke's Garden
As a nurseryman, Graham has a wealth of knowledge to share. Graham Cooke writes: "We were inspired by the garden called 'La Louve' in the Vaucluse that was created by Nicole de Vesian. It is a garden of mainly clipped non flowering plants laid out to a somewhat geometrical plan. Our situations were very different: her site is steep and the soils chalky; ours is flat and the soil is a slightly acid sand. And she had a more creative and whimsical streak than we do. And we have a lawn, which is a challenge and not very water-wise. However, we invite you to come to see what we've done and how we've coped with the vagaries of the weather over the last decade."
See how Josephine has coped with the salt laden air in a coastal location, hear of her successes and her trials. The prevailing southerlies sweep up the hill to the house at the top of the block. You will be met by an arresting grove of Melaleuca lanceolata (Moonah) when you enter this fascinating garden. You’re lured uphill along small paths through many carefully planted shrubs of contrasting foliage to the sound of trickling water in the rock-lined creek. The creek is cleverly constructed to lead to an ornamental fishpond. At the head of the drive lies an imposing rock garden. Huge boulders have been nudged into position to provide the stored heat necessary for many of the plants, which cascade over the rocks. The Brachychiton rupestris is well established and a mature palm which lay dormant for years after planting has now decided to come to life. Fruit trees and a small vegetable garden complete the main garden. Ferns huddle together at the back, providing a cool oasis.
27 April - Narre Warren North
Attila Kapitany’s garden
We will be visiting Attila’s famous botanical garden of more than an acre in an attractive valley. It showcases succulents, especially Australian ones. In fact, Attila is the recognised expert on Australian succulents and has published several books on the subject. While one can expect hundreds of species of mature succulents on display, Attila has over 100 bottle trees and other Brachychiton and has now branched out into other flora, notably bromeliads of which he has over 1,000. In all his garden is chock full of 10,000 assorted plants and there are many meandering paths to explore. The garden overlooks a lake and reserve, which helps create a beautiful setting.
24 August - Olinda
Oron Peri talk
Bulb expert Oron Peri will give a talk under the auspices of the Alpine Plant Society. Oron gardens in Israel, where he has a notable bulb collection and nursery. He is a long term member of MGS.
1 September - Redesdale near Kyneton
Fermi de Sousa’s Garden
Another noted plantsman is Fermi de Sousa who writes the Alpine Plant Society newsletter. We will be visiting his garden in on 1st September. He has a notable collection of bulbs. Being at about 600 metres altitude with a continental climate (cold winters and brutally hot summers), he will have many spring flowering plants that Melburnians just do not see.
17 to 20 October - Athens
Annual General Meeting
The 2019 Annual General Meeting, which celebrates our twenty-fifth anniversary, will take place in Greece. It will be based in Athens with a focus on dry gardening and coping with the present climate challenges, with a programme of visits. Our guest speaker on Friday October 18 will be Thomas Doxiadis, the Greek landscape architect with world recognition for his innovative work. A Pre-AGM tour will take place from Saturday 12 to Wednesday 16 October on the Ionian Island of Corfu, “Venus of the Isles”, with lush vegetation, romantic coastline and a fascinating Venetian, French and British heritage along with its Greek character. A Post-AGM tour from Monday 21 to Thursday 24 October will be in Pelion, a mountain region in the south-eastern part of Thessaly - a place of great natural beauty in autumn. More information will follow on our website and in future editions of TMG Journal.
Gardens of Stonnington
Our special day of smaller gardens in Toorak and Malvern was extraordinarily successful, in perfect weather with spring flowerings at their best. Our heartfelt thanks go to the owners and to Caroline Davies as the organiser.
We began at the Toorak garden of Fiona Brockhoff. Her garden features her creative ideas for gardening where space is limited and with ways to cope with difficult conditions. Here the borrowed landscape is integrated into the overall design of the garden and plants have been carefully chosen to best suit the various micro climates in the garden. The roof garden in particular made good use of the borrowed landscape. The price paid for the borrowed landscape is fearsome root competition: plants were chosen with this in mind.
This was followed by Caroline Davies’ exceptional collection of pots of unusual plants, married with interesting sculptures and artefacts. It never ceases to delight.
Susie Brookes delightful garden makes significant use of pebbles as a mulch on the elevated rear terrace, with a large area of Nierembergia rivularisas ground cover. Amongst the many highlights, the avenue of Tilia cordata along the side fence and the dramatic creeper against the house. Even the lunch at the Seasonal Kitchen seemed to have a garden feel, outside under a huge neighbouring Moreton Bay Fig.
The fourth garden was of the late Marian Brookes, a notable plants woman. Margie Brookes has maintained the garden for many years and continued to do so up to our visit, although the house has now been sold. We were privileged to have her as our host for the visit. Hardier plants populated the front garden under a large tree. However, the back garden was a riot of colour over a surprisingly large area, with hidden beds in each of the back corners. The view from the patio was enhanced by its elevated position.
A guided garden tour to Lambley Gardens and a visit to Frogmore Garden and Nursery
Despite persistent drizzle, everybody enjoyed David Glenn’s guided tour of Lambley Gardens and his own garden around the house. David, who is gregarious, was extremely generous with his time and loved telling us about the plants and how he managed to introduce some of them to Australia. Since we last visited as part of the MGS AGM in 2012, what was then the propagating area has become the main show garden, with many floriferous borders (despite the autumn season and the long dry period) and sculptures and other garden ornaments as focal points. David steered us clear of the area that had previously been the main garden and showroom for desirable dry-climate plants. This area is undergoing a major renovation. We sneaked in after the tour and observed the true survivors of the summer.
After a pleasant drive through Daylesford along attractive roads through picturesque villages we arrived at Frogmore Garden and Nursery, Blackwood. The owner gave us a brief presentation (and umbrellas), after which we were free to roam the extensive garden, which has many fine, long and wide borders. Under his tenure he has dug many truck-loads of compost into the clay soil and also added gypsum.
While this is not a drought-tolerant garden, the owner explained that he nevertheless uses only a fraction of his water rights (as does Lambley). The garden features a very wide range of unusual plants, and grasses are used to great effect. The exotic trees were colouring beautifully. They are maturing well, having been planted 17 years ago when the garden was established. Their autumn colours looked stunning against the surrounding mist-covered grey-green forest. If you missed this garden visit, go when it is next open in March and April next year (check the website) – the nursery is open all year.
For older reports and articles please check out the archived (non-responsive) Victoria Branch page.
Background on Branch Head Malcom Faul
Malcolm is a retired accountant with an interest in gardens and gardening, inspired by his wife, Fran and her knowledge of and interest in plants, landscape design and history. They are long-standing members of the MGS. They are also active members of the Australian Garden History Society.
Fran and Malcolm organise and take part in a working bees programme on historic gardens that cannot have the labour to maintain them in anything like the style of when they were created 100 years ago.
THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN is the registered trademark of The Mediterranean Garden Society in the European Union, Australia, and the United States of America