Drink in the views as you explore the lovingly landscaped garden rooms
Story: Sandra Pullman
Photos: Claire Takacs
An inspiring place to visit on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is The Garden Vineyard at Moorooduc. A 70-kilometre drive from Melbourne, it’s an excursion well worth making as even the approach to the beautifully sculpted gardens (and the adjacent vineyard) is fabulous. To get there, you have to drive down a tree-lined dirt road and across a bridge spanning Devil Bend Reservoir — a journey that can’t help but set you in the right mood to be wowed.
What makes the lovingly landscaped gardens so irresistible is the all-pervading sense of mystery. Wherever you go, you find yourself wondering what is around the next corner or through the next opening in a hedge.
Di Johnson, with the help of her husband Doug, has built the gardens over the past 10 years and is continually changing and improving them. Conscious of the need to be as self-sustaining as possible and minimise her footprint upon the planet, Di recently removed some of the hedges to reduce her reliance on petrol-driven hedge shears. She also recycles grey water from the house and uses it for garden irrigation.
One of the keys to the success of The Garden Vineyard is the clever use of structural elements: green hedges, stone steps and brick walls. To define the various garden rooms, Di has used plant material such as Juniperus virginiana ‘Spartan’ and Acmena smithii (a dense foliaged lily pilly). Gravel has been used to link each room and create an axial path system.
There are several vistas you can enjoy. You can rest on the seat under a magnificent Acacia podalyriifolia (variously known as the Mount Morgan wattle or the Queensland silver wattle) and look down through the Silver Garden and across the Lemon Scent Gum Walk. Or if you walk around to the Gravel Courtyard Garden you will catch a fabulous view of the Perennial Garden. This is not a traditional perennial garden: the path isn’t straight and on the other side is a shrub border but it works very well.
Salvias are one of Di’s staple plants and she uses them in the Perennial Garden to great effect, concentrating on blues and purples, which create a cheerful look on an overcast day.
Another unusual feature is the Wedding Garden Room where balls of lilly pilly (Syzygium australe) line the gravel path and are under-planted with Heliotropium arborescens. It is such an effective simple planting — the purple flowers make the space come alive.
Also worth exploring is the English-style Walled Garden, with its beautiful brick walls. This garden area recently underwent a water-wise makeover with Di replacing the water-guzzling lawn with gravel.
The Garden Vineyard is worth a visit as it shows you how you can have a beautiful garden using very little water — and you have the bonus of being able to sample a glass of pinot noir or pinot gris from the boutique winery while you’re there.
THE GARDEN VINEYARD
Open by appointment
174 Graydens Road,
Moorooduc Vic 3933
Tel: (03) 5978 8336