This Incredible Country Garden Unfolds Like An Enchanting Maze

Potager Designs’ Deborah Hambleton says the magical atmosphere of her garden is down to its rambling design.

She’s been working on the garden since she and her husband purchased a cottage called Melrose, located in Malmsbury — a village in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges — about 18 years ago.

‘We were looking for a renovated house and established garden. We ended up with a somewhat derelict bluestone cottage and a horse paddock,’ Deborah says. ‘There was an old rose garden at the front, a pear tree and an ornamental plum tree.’

Beyond that, the half-acre block around the house was a blank canvas that turned out to be the perfect size for everything the couple had on their wish list: vegetable gardens, chickens, fruit trees, a gravel garden, a courtyard, perennials, and a swimming pool.

Deborah says she’s ‘always been a gardener’ and that the garden began quite intuitively, starting with vertical elements like a pergola, pencil pines and trees for shade. In addition to her love of Mediterranean gardens, she traces her initial inspirations behind Melrose to places from her childhood, like her grandparents’ large vegetable garden in Tasmania, which had masses of fruit trees and berries.

‘My view is that productive plants are also very ornamental — particularly fruit trees,’ Deborah adds. ‘We have a selection of dwarf heritage fruit trees, including apples and quinces, a dozen or so varieties of pomegranate, edible pistachios, citrus, stone fruit, and a fig tree and a persimmon tree.’

Other key plantings include a selection of ‘dry tolerant plants,’ like Salvias, Bergamont, Agastache, Echinops, Grasses and Star Jasmine.

Hedges provide a formal structure around the house, but as you follow the paths it slowly evolves into a more ‘organic landscape’ with soft informal plantings, dotted by delicate flowers and the seasonal colours of the changing fruit trees.

Most of the built elements is made up of recycled materials that were rescued from the old cottage before their renovations. Bluestones below the house and red bricks from a chimney were reused for pathways in the kitchen garden, while Tuscan aggregate also enhances the property’s rustic charm.

‘A visitor once described the style as “wild chic”,’ Deborah notes. ‘A key feature is the use of informal garden rooms, to create a sense of exploration and discovery — you can’t see the whole garden from a single vantage point.’

It’s almost like a serene maze, filled with mystery and surprise. From the idyllic lap pool surrounded by lush plantings as far the eye can see, to the enclosed courtyard covered in vines, every corner of this magical garden offers a total escape.

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