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Garden Visit: A Fern-Filled Forest in Australia

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Garden Visit: A Fern-Filled Forest in Australia

October 3, 2018

Recently on Remodelista, Margot took us through the guesthouse of Jacky Winter Gardens, an artists’ residence and informal showroom for the work of partner artists. The cottage has undergone a masterful redesign, and the gardens are changing, too:

Photography by Rhiannon Taylor.

Owner Jeremy Wortsman says the verdant gardens and surrounding landscape are what drew him to the site in the first place. Filled with native greenery and bordered by a winding creek, the retreat is located in Belgrave, Australia, just 45 minutes outside of Melbourne.
Above: Owner Jeremy Wortsman says the verdant gardens and surrounding landscape are what drew him to the site in the first place. Filled with native greenery and bordered by a winding creek, the retreat is located in Belgrave, Australia, just 45 minutes outside of Melbourne.
The guest house was built in the early th century and was recently remodeled by Sarah Trotter of Hearth Studio. Here, a silver birch tree offers residency for wildlife.
Above: The guest house was built in the early 20th century and was recently remodeled by Sarah Trotter of Hearth Studio. Here, a silver birch tree offers residency for wildlife.
 The gardens have undergone a similar renovation, led by Belgrave-based permaculture expert Miranda Mueller. She was first called to the place by the real estate agent selling the house, who was hoping for a quick garden cleanup to make the property more attractive for sale. At the time, there was no walking path and the garden was buried beneath dense undergrowth.
Above: The gardens have undergone a similar renovation, led by Belgrave-based permaculture expert Miranda Mueller. She was first called to the place by the real estate agent selling the house, who was hoping for a quick garden cleanup to make the property more attractive for sale. At the time, there was no walking path and the garden was buried beneath dense undergrowth.
After the half-acre landscape became Jacky Winter Gardens, Mueller was &#8
Above: After the half-acre landscape became Jacky Winter Gardens, Mueller was “employed to unravel [the garden’s] wilderness and tame her just enough that she could be enjoyed for her fruitfulness.”
In the center of the garden, beside the walking trail, is an informal orchard of peach and apple trees bearing Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples. More edibles including lemons, kiwis, figs, grapefruits, and raspberries grow throughout the property, and a kitchen garden is under development.
Above: In the center of the garden, beside the walking trail, is an informal orchard of peach and apple trees bearing Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples. More edibles including lemons, kiwis, figs, grapefruits, and raspberries grow throughout the property, and a kitchen garden is under development.
 The property is part garden, part natural bushland, a mix that the owners call “both tranquil and invigorating.” The gardens feature more than 80 types of plants, including bromeliads, rhododendrons, and fan palms. Ferns dominate the mix, including tree ferns, mother ferns, and fishbone ferns—a motif that&#8
Above: The property is part garden, part natural bushland, a mix that the owners call “both tranquil and invigorating.” The gardens feature more than 80 types of plants, including bromeliads, rhododendrons, and fan palms. Ferns dominate the mix, including tree ferns, mother ferns, and fishbone ferns—a motif that’s reflected in the wallpaper inside the cottage.
Clematis Creek meanders behind the property; from the residence, you can hear its burble. Wildlife can be spotted here, including wombats, wallabies, the tiny marsupials called antechinus, and sometimes even platypuses.
Above: Clematis Creek meanders behind the property; from the residence, you can hear its burble. Wildlife can be spotted here, including wombats, wallabies, the tiny marsupials called antechinus, and sometimes even platypuses.

Says Mueller, “I share this garden with a tribe of native friends, and have been lucky enough to meet the resident cranky old wombat. He likes to nibble on the lower limb foliage of the fruit trees.”

The garden now has more structure, while retaining its free-form playfulness. Here, a fan palm grows in the shade behind the trellis.
Above: The garden now has more structure, while retaining its free-form playfulness. Here, a fan palm grows in the shade behind the trellis.
Color appears amid the greenery: roses, daisies, and the sedum &#8
Above: Color appears amid the greenery: roses, daisies, and the sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (shown) grow in the garden.

Says Mueller of her future plans for the garden, “My mission will remain to honor her wilderness, to plant native screens to help our native friends, with just a splash of color to complement such a pretty cottage!”

 Silver spurflower is another source of blooms.
Above: Silver spurflower is another source of blooms.
Jacky Winter Gardens sits in the Dandenong Ranges, a low mountain range where lower altitudes are covered in temperate rainforest of mountain ash trees and dense undergrowth of ferns. Here, oak trees and a tree fern on the edge of the property.
Above: Jacky Winter Gardens sits in the Dandenong Ranges, a low mountain range where lower altitudes are covered in temperate rainforest of mountain ash trees and dense undergrowth of ferns. Here, oak trees and a tree fern on the edge of the property.
The garden remains green all year—though Melbourne is only a short way away, average summer temperatures in Belgrave reach only about 73 degrees Fahrenheit and the region gets ample rain all year.
Above: The garden remains green all year—though Melbourne is only a short way away, average summer temperatures in Belgrave reach only about 73 degrees Fahrenheit and the region gets ample rain all year.
A whimsical map of the gardens by illustrator James Gulliver Hancock; a poster-size map is given to every overnight visitor.
Above: A whimsical map of the gardens by illustrator James Gulliver Hancock; a poster-size map is given to every overnight visitor.

For more of our favorite gardens Down Under, see:

N.B.: This is an update of a post published April 29, 2016.

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