Elements of Arts and Crafts Garden Design

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Gertrude Jekyll applied Arts and Crafts principles to garden design.
  • She worked with the English architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, for whose projects she created numerous landscapes, and who designed her home Munstead Wood, near Godalming in Surrey.
  • Jekyll created the gardens for Bishopsbarns, the home of York architect Walter Brierley, an exponent of the Arts and Crafts movement and known as the "Lutyens of the North".
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  • The garden for Brierley's final project, Goddards in York, was the work of George Dillistone, a gardener who worked with Lutyens and Jekyll at Castle Drogo.
  • At Goddards the garden incorporated a number of features that reflected the arts and crafts style of the house, such as the use of hedges and herbaceous borders to divide the garden into a series of outdoor rooms.
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  • Another notable Arts and Crafts garden is Hidcote Manor Garden designed by Lawrence Johnston which is also laid out in a series of outdoor rooms and where, like Goddards, the landscaping becomes less formal further away from the house.
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  • Other examples of Arts and Crafts gardens include Hestercombe Gardens, Lytes Cary Manor and the gardens of some of the architectural examples of arts and crafts buildings (listed above).

1. A Unity of House and Garden


The holistic approach of the Arts and Crafts Movement called for a graceful, gradual transition from House to Garden, often extending to the wild landscape beyond.
Plan of house and garden at Warrawee (Merriwa) Toorak (1906-1909) designed by architect Walter Butler.
Plan of house and garden at Warrawee (Merriwa) Toorak (1906-1909) designed by architect Walter Butler.
GARDEN ROOMS:

Most often the Arts and Crafts approach was that interior spaces opened onto Garden Rooms, defined by arbours, trellis screens, hedges, alleys of trees or more formally by stone or masonry walls (eg Edna Walling)
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Gardens by Edna Walling:


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2. Use local plants and local materials


Such as boulders, local stone in fences, and indigenous (native) plants.
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  • Designer Gertrude Jekyll (rhymes with 'treacle') recommended studying local conditions so the garden design has distinct natural character.
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  • Gertrude Jekyll was a British horticulturist, garden designer, artist and writer. She created over 400 gardens in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States
Although the science of ecology was unknown in Gertrude Jekyll's day, Jekyll recognized that underlying rock influenced which plants would successfully grow in a particular area.
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  • Jekyll and co-writer Weaver did not suggest that that gardens must be restricted to only regional native plants, but these native plants must be 'well represented'.
  • An enthusiasm for old-fashioned plants was evident in Arts and Crafts gardens with a nostalgia for for rural garden traditions, represented by hollyhocks, shrub roses, and narcissus, as well as orchards.
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3. Freedom of Growth


Arts and Crafts Style rejected earlier Victorian formal and Gardenesque Styles, especially large garish flower displays and extreme hedging styles, which latter date back to the Medieval herb gardens.
  • Instead William Robinson, author of the 'Wild Garden' book (1870), embraced the natural growth of plants, without fine clipping.
  • Plants should be allowed to self-seed and naturalize in a garden celebrating the loose and natural flowing of plantings.
  • Gertrude Jekyll promoted the marriage of formal layout and naturalistic plantings,
  • Clipped yew hedges were still approved for the creation of garden rooms, and straight stone walkways were still used.

The garden of Sandra McMahon


Sandra is a well-known Melbourne garden designer. John Patrick visited for the ABC in 2015 and remarks that "It's native in the front and then there's a wonderful lush, exotic garden in the back. It's quite fantastic. You don't get any hint of this from the front," he says.
  • "I feel it's all about mystery and escape," says Sandra. "I'm always trying to help people lose their orientation a little bit in a garden because I think that that's very helpful for relaxing in a garden and that's what a garden should be about."
  • John says Sandra not only likes design but also loves and knows her plants. "Well, I do emphasise the use of plants for structure in all the gardens that I design, so I use a wide palette of plants.
  • Read more: Arts and Crafts ethos reborn in Kilsyth garden, Gardening Australia - Fact Sheet: Playing With Plants - ABC
Sandra McMahon - well-known Melbourne garden designer in her own garden 'Woodcote'
Sandra McMahon - well-known Melbourne garden designer in her own garden 'Woodcote'
One plant that's caught ABC's John Patrick's eye is a particular Iris. "That's Iris pallida 'Variegata' (Zebra Iris - Iris pallida 'Argentea Variegata')," says Sandra, "which I really think is a four-season plant. The foliage is fabulous for most of the year and the eye-catching bluish-mauve flowers are a bonus."
  • He also admires her purple Honeywort. "It's Cerinthe major (Honeywort, Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens')," she says. "I just scattered the seeds and it's just come up everywhere. I love that effect!
Click through to view an ABC video of Sandra McMahon
Click through to view an ABC video of Sandra McMahon
  • Something that I particularly like about it is these beautiful blue and magenta colours, so I deliberately put it near these Rugosa Roses (Rosa 'Roseraie de l'Hay'). I think it's all about things calling from one part of the garden to another part."
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4. Naturalistic Colour Schemes


Arts and Crafts generally embraced the more subtle hues and colour cylcles found in Nature.
  • William Robinson in "The English Flower Garden" wrote that 'Nature is a good colourist, and if we trust her guidance, we never find wrong colour in wood, meadow or mountain.'
  • Charles Francis Annesley Voysey was an English architect and furniture and textile designer. Voysey's early work was as a designer of wallpapers, fabrics and furnishings in a simple Arts and Crafts
  • Voysey advocated taking cues direct from nature's colours and sequence: "...nature never allows her colours to quarrel, (her) harmony is everywhere.."
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Natural Designs by CFA Voysey:


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5. Outstanding period garden designs in Australia


The most famous Arts and Craft garden in Australia is at Carrick Hill in the Adelaide foothills of SA.
external image safe_image.php?d=AQATxswL6DHqF-F4&w=526&h=296&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fgardening%2Fimages%2F2809_sophie_large.jpg&cfs=1&upscale=1&fallback=news_d_placeholder_publisher&_nc_hash=AQBrdJmpiXynPiJLGardening Australia - 29/04/2017: Carrick HillSophie visits one of Adelaides favourite historic garden properties Carrick HillABC.NET.AU
The 40 hectare manor garden was created by Edward and Ursula Hayward in the 1930's, modelled on the extensive gardens on the 'Arts and Crafts' style that were developed in the 19th Century.

  • The style emphasises
    • the use of locally sourced materials from the garden, to create
    • garden rooms or compartments where different shrubs and plants are grown for different interest.
    • Plants with ancient histories or folklore were particularly valued.
The Hayward couple lived at Carrick Hill until the 1980's when the property was then bequeathed to the people of South Australia.

Other period gardens are at Malmsbury in Victoria and at Anlaby SA - see the ABC TV videos below:

7. Gates, views and surprises


The Arts and Crafts garden was full of mystery, surprises and light and shade effects.
  • Gates: Moon Gates were installed as exotic inspirations, or a distant gate could open to a new view
  • Keyhole views: surprises and tiny views through windows or gaps
  • Vistas: Walk around a corner on the path and find a surprising view
  • Windows: glimpses of garden views from house windows and the clever use of mirrors in garden design
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Recycled window frames used as a garden feature. A frame at the end of the path offers more mystery. Can you find a mirror used here?
Recycled window frames used as a garden feature. A frame at the end of the path offers more mystery. Can you find a mirror used here?
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8. Barry Byrne and Miguel Alvarez, Bebeah, Mt Wilson NSW


Bebeah is open every day from 10am – 5pm. It’s a great garden, and well worth a day trip from Sydney. Entry is $8.00.
  • Barry Byrne is a man of vision. When he and his partner, Miguel Alvarez, moved to ‘Bebeah’, a five-hectare garden estate at Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains of NSW, he says there was nothing except a few large trees. That was 30 years ago.
  • While he has a background in interior decorating, Barry had no previous gardening experience before moving to Mount Wilson. He just got stuck into it, using his finely honed spatial design skills to craft the garden. ‘I started at the front gate and designed until the money ran out,’ he tells me.
  • The garden is grand. It’s comprised of a series of formal elements – a sweeping semi-circular azalea walk, avenues flanked with pine, oak, and elm trees, and plenty of hedges.

It’s not, however, a typical formal garden in the sense of a contrived structure imposed on the landscape. It’s more interesting than that.

  • The garden meanders around the site, loosening as it gets further away from the house.
  • The scale is impressive, as is Barry’s eye. Antique sculptures and garden elements frame vistas and provide focal points, enticing visitors to keep on exploring.

external image safe_image.php?d=AQBlfJ4-V99GJtJn&w=158&h=237&url=http%3A%2F%2Fthedesignfiles.net%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2016%2F08%2FMount-Wilson-Bebeah-Gardens-TDF-thh1-520x685.jpg&cfs=1&upscale=1&fallback=news_d_placeholder_publisher&_nc_hash=AQDUReCeHTACPPWnRead more:
Barry Byrne and Miguel Alvarez - The Design Files | Australia's most popular design blog.THEDESIGNFILES.NET

Barry Byrne and Miguel Alvarez


Barry Byrne is a man of vision. When he and his partner, Miguel Alvarez, moved to ‘Bebeah’, a five-hectare garden estate at Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains of NSW, he says there was nothing except a few large trees. That was 30 years ago, and in the decades that have since passed, together this pair have re-established the property. The garden was originally built in 1880 by Edward Cox, and these days is once again open for the public to enjoy.


9. Edna Walling Garden Designs


  • From Tantamount, which produced an Edna Walling website, produced with the assistance of the ABC and Cinemedia Multimedia Production Accord in association with the State Library of Victoria.
Edna Walling, 1966
Portrait by Daphne Pearson
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dna Walling was born in Devonshire, England. A determined tomboy, she was a unique and feisty character.
Her career was forged when a woman's place was supposed to be in the home. Edna was more likely to build the home!
See 'Person' to find out about the private life of Edna Walling.


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dna Walling is one of Australia's finest and most influential landscape designers. She was also a popular writer, a talented photographer and a charismatic personality.
Self Portrait
Self Portrait

**Self Portrait** [50 K]
Dry Stone Wall Softened by Planting
Dry Stone Wall Softened by Planting



Kiloren, Crookwell, New South Wales


Edna Walling's Garden Plan for Danglow
Edna Walling's Garden Plan for Danglow


Rough Sketch of Garden Plan
for Rev. J. Danglow. Inverleith Ave, St. Kilda [167 K]


Walling's style changed very little throughout her career, however each garden is unique.
  • She is renowned for her use of stone, especially in low fences or walls and steps, where moss was encouraged to grow.
  • Dense greenery with few flowers, and a naturalness that softens and unites the garden to its house, also identifies Walling's gardens.
  • Her aim was always to create unity between the house and the garden.


Edna Walling's basic design principles were based on a set of design ethics:
Sonning: Piazza From Sitting Room
Sonning: Piazza From Sitting Room


  • ork with existing landscapes and existing features, such as slopes, rocks and trees
  • Begin by 'sculpting' the surface of the land, preferably not levelling it
  • Create a unity between the house and the garden
  • Use architectural principles to structure the garden and soften with dense planting
  • Individually design for each house and garden and the needs of the clients
  • Keep garden maintenance to a minimum.



Edna Walling had a free and easy attitude to garden maintenance and she believed that every window of a house should have a view of the garden, to create the effect of bringing the garden into the house.

external image quote1.gifMaintenance would appear to be of first importance in the planning of a property. Secondly, the idea that the atmosphere should be restful, suggesting peace and quietness and relaxing should be aimed at. external image quote2.gif


Walling has influenced many home gardeners through her articles in the Australian Home Beautiful and her popular gardening books. It is her ideas and vision as much as her gardens that are Walling's design legacy.

Peter Watts, author of "The Gardens of Edna Walling" identifies three main Walling garden styles:
  1. Informal cottage - e.g. the gardens of Bickleigh Vale village
  2. Structured - used in suburban blocks - a blend of cottage in the front garden and geometric in the back garden
  3. Formal geometric - used on large blocks and estates e.g. Mawarra and the garden of Ringland Anderson

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Kiloren, Crookwell, NSW- Garden View from Roof
Kiloren, Crookwell, NSW- Garden View from Roof



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dna Walling grew up in England. Walks with her father across the moors introduced the young Walling to the low growing shrubs, gravel paths and the quaint cottages of Devonshire, leaving a lasting impression. Walling's landscape designs developed from the English style, exemplified by the designer Gertrude Jekyll.

Jekyll was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement which sought to blend the arts. She endeavoured to unify the garden with architecture, as did Walling:

external image quote1.gifSo much money is spent on the house and then it often is left without any connecting link with the land... The garden should be built first, forming the setting for the house which should then be linked up with it.external image quote2.gif


At a time when Australians loved all things English and when English migration was at its peak, Walling's English style designs complemented the stately manors that were fashionable during this era.
  • However Walling was also influenced by Spanish and Italian gardens. Their use of stone and water, terracing, pergolas, courtyards and paving were an inspiration. In the forties she commented:

external image quote1.gifIt is really rather amazing that we have copies of the English style rather than Spanish and Italian because in this climate, protection from hot winds is essential to civilised living. external image quote2.gif


Edna Walling was confident and determined. At 26 years of age, she decided to build an English style village and home for herself. Bickleigh Vale village is a striking example of her design flair and strength of vision.
  • Walling built and designed several more village houses. Simple cottages beautifully integrated with the landscape

See 'Homes' for more about Bickleigh Vale


Bickleigh Vale, Mooroolbark, VictoriaDownderry, Bickleigh Vale [59 K]
Copse of silver birches
Copse of silver birches

Downderry, Bickleigh Vale
Downderry, Bickleigh Vale

Over the years, Walling increasing


ly used native plants in her designs. This was probably the most significant shift in her approach. Glen Wilson, a former student of Walling's recalls:

external image quote1.gif ...she was keen on establishing stands of birches. One day during a 'lesson' I asked her if she thought the white trunks of birches and eucalypts could be acceptable together. She answered, "Perhaps, but why use the birches?" This illustrates the complete turnaround of her attitude in later years. external image quote2.gif

Her garden plans developed in style but eventually she was content to draw a simple plan on paper and hand it to those who had worked with her for many years. They knew what she wanted.
Herbaceous border
Herbaceous border



Kiloren, Crookwell, New South Wales
See 'All Plans' for more about Walling's plans.
Many of Walling's garden plans are works of art in themselves, painted in soft watercolour and outlined in ink, bringing her ideas to life.

Garden Plan, Danglow
Garden Plan, Danglow

View of Garden with Pool
View of Garden with Pool

**Rough Sketch of Garden Plan** **for Rev. J. Danglow, Inverleith Ave, St. Kilda**[167 K]


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alling created 'rooms' in her garden plans. A room may be for the vegetable patch, to encompass a pool, as a place of repose or to be used as a formal space. She often used pathways to connect the garden's 'rooms' creating a romantic feel as each is discovered.

Kiloren, Crookwell, New South Wales

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alling encouraged the view that gardening was meant to be relaxing, enjoyable and rewarding. Gardens that were fastidious and time consuming were discouraged. Plants that spread and required low maintenance were appreciated for their hardiness and low maintenance.

Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)


external image quote1.gif Gardens that are low in upkeep and yet grow more beautiful with the years are usually those that have been architecturally built. external image quote2.gif

Most of her gardens required the very practical vegetable patch.

external image quote1.gif Of course there are flowers in your vegetable garden - there always are in a good kitchen garden... external image quote2.gif

**Garden Thyme** **(Thymus vulgaris)** [18 K]