A Fairytale Garden For A Country Cottage

Tim Pilgrim is renowned for his layered gardens that mirror the wild and diverse planting of untouched nature.

Prior to its recent transformation, this garden in Macedon, Victoria was accompanied by the opposite — a hodgepodge of unhappy plants and a large lawn — save for a glorious 100-year-old oak tree.

This oak tree and bush reserve located across the road served as the starting point of the new garden.

The oak tree provides incredible beauty while naturally dividing the garden into zones for a fire pit, paved outdoor dining area, and open air seating. Meandering paths connect the zones and lead through to the home’s entrance past the oak tree.

Areas of the garden in full sun adopt a Mediterranean plant palette featuring larger naturalistic drifts inspired by a bush reserve over the road. The oak tree meanwhile enables a shady section of woodland-style planting with a lush green and white theme.

Tim is a ‘sucker’ for grasses that create movement and catch the light with their seed heads. Calamagrostis (Karl Foerster), Miscanthus transmorrisonensis (Chinese silver grass), Pennisetum (red buttons), and Poa labillardierei (common tussock-grass) are planted in drifts, juxtaposed by Buxus sempervirens topiary balls and Pyrus salicifolia ornamental pear trees.

Other plants are designed to bloom throughout the seasons in an array of pastel colours with soft grey foliage. Allium Purple Rain floats above the emerging perennials with a hardworking backbone of Nepeta dropmore (catmint), Stachys byzantina (lamb’s ear), Salvia nemorosa (caradonna), Centranthus ruber (red valerian), and Erigeron karvinskianus (seaside daisy) repeated throughout.

Tim describes Achillea millefolium (pineapple mango), and Penstemon (hidcote pink) as ‘midseason heroes,’ complemented by staggered Salvia (Anthony Parker), Hylotelephium spectabile (autumn joy), Veronicastrum virginicum (culver’s root), and eupatorium maculatum (gateway) that bloom into the cooler months.

Built materials are likewise natural and simple — ‘nothing too polished in keeping with the naturalistic planting and cottage aesthetic,’ as Tim says. Cut basalt boulders feature on the steps with granite sand used for the paths, reclaimed red brick on the paved dining area, and reclaimed railway sleepers for the retaining wall around the firepit.

The updated garden now feels at one with its accompanying Federation cottage, established oak tree, and the movement of the seasons.

The planting exudes a ‘playful formality’ resulting in the cottage-style garden the owner has always dreamed about.

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