The landscape designer – Edna Walling

 Edna Walling in 1966, portrait by Daphne Pearson.

Edna Walling in 1966, portrait by Daphne Pearson.

Edna Walling (1895 - 1973) was one of Australia’s leading landscape designers – her influence extended from the 1920s to the late 1960s.

A prolific garden designer, writer, photographer, water colourist and passionate conservationist, Walling introduced Australians to a different way of gardening – one where perennials and hardy shrubs replaced bedding annuals, beautifully proportioned stone walls, pergolas and stairs provided architectural framework, and plants such as forget-me-nots and foxgloves were encouraged to self seed. Her gardens became intimate and tranquil spaces for their owners (www.abc.net.au/walling).

Walling was commissioned to design Kiloren by Dr and Mrs Broadbent. She had already redesigned the garden at Markdale, Binda, for the Ashton family in the late 1940s, so was familiar with the climate and the district. Walling travelled to Kiloren a number of times to supervise the garden's construction, revisit its progress, and bring plants from her own nursery at Bickleigh Vale, Melbourne.

The Kiloren house and garden were constructed at the same time, allowing Walling to do what she liked best – have input into the whole site and an opportunity to liaise with the architect in the early stages of design. She also loved designing gardens on sloping sites and “sculpturing the soil” – the gentle mound in the Kiloren garden created from the house excavations and the extensive dry stone retaining wall that curves around two sides of the house are perfect examples.

Most of Edna Walling’s work was undertaken in Victoria – Kiloren is one of only a handful of gardens she designed in NSW. The fact it has been in the hands of only two owners since 1951 is also unusual, making it one of Walling’s few remaining Australian gardens with the original design and intent intact.

 Edna Walling designed the garden in 1951 at the same time the house was built.

Edna Walling designed the garden in 1951 at the same time the house was built.