It’s officially time to start planning for the seasons ahead and landscape architects Michael Wright and Catherine Rush are steeling themselves for drought, fire, and dramatic storms. It may be winter, but the directors of Melbourne-based design practice Rush Wright Associates are already thinking about summer, and what they’re after is a garden that can weather anything.

But that’s not all. The couple also want their garden plans to be affordable, feel relaxing, improve with age and require little to no maintenance. A tall order you might say, but they’re making it happen.

A country garden that can withstand lengthy dry spells and regenerate after fire.Credit: Michael Wright

Despite being located in Glenluce, in the highlands of central Victoria, Wright says their new garden, carefully designed for a changing climate, could be adapted for any location.

While the exact plants to use will depend on your local weather conditions, Wright says the underlying structure of this garden, which can withstand lengthy dry spells and will regenerate after fire, is easily replicable and could be made relatively cheaply in any rural, coastal or urban spot.

There is no fussy edging and no regular clipping. It’s not completely wild, but it doesn’t look highly gardened either. It is as enchanting as any garden that feels part of the landscape itself.

Wright and Rush have long used their country property as a testing ground for their landscape designs. Over the 21 years they’ve been in business, they have established forests of food and wide native corridors, often using whatever materials are on hand.

There is no fussy edging and no regular clipping.Credit: Michael Wright

Wright says their overriding philosophy is always the same: set things in process, then see how little you can do. Unlike highly manicured spaces where “all you can see is the labour involved”, Wright says this more natural style of gardening “lends itself to a feeling of relaxation”.

The new part of the garden, made to survive both drought and fire, was inspired by the shifting sand dunes of Wyperfeld National Park, in the semi-arid north-western Victoria, as well as the mallee heath habitat of Ngarkat Conservation Park in South Australia.

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Landscape Architecture 


Megan Backhouse