Memories of a Garden Long Gone







I was looking through my photographs recently when I discovered these forgotten images of flowers from my garden in Ferntree Gully, in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

I was a chaotic gardener and my garden reflected this.

The garden gave me much pleasure and joy. It was my sanctuary.

The flowers in the top photograph came from my favourite tree, a Silver Banksia, Banksia marginata . It was planted next to my chook shed. Other favourite trees were also planted near the chook shed – native frangipani and a callistemon.  I would go to this corner of the garden to think.

The banksia grew to be a large, solid tree; its flowers attracting birds, fruit bats and possums.

After I sold my home in Ferntree Gully in September 2012, the trees were cut down and all evidence of the garden’s existence removed – except for a few renegade daffodils.

Two villa units now stand on the site of my former home and garden.

This post is a preview of an occasional series featuring drawings I made of my former garden.



This rose grew from a cutting from my Aunt Anne’s garden in Castlemaine. It was planted near the window of my dining area where I could appreciate its fragrance in the warmer months.


The yellow iris also came from my Aunt Anne’s garden.




The kangaroo apples, Solanum lanciniatum Aiton, self seeded around the garden.


I loved the native frangipani, Hymenosporum flavum. Its sweet perfume filled the night air.




This creamy callistemon was a small tree with papery bark. The flowers smelled of honey. It attracted bees and other insects.



8 Responses

  1. So sad to read that your wonderful chaotic garden is now gone. I’m glad you have some wonderful memories and the photographs to remind you though. I think I may have been shocked and just a little tearful to see the changes! I know that when I eventually move from my 1/2 acre block in the suburbs here it will probably be made into flats. I wonder where all my wildlife will go. Not much we can do though. Your old garden sounded marvelous. The kind of garden that I enjoy – chaotic and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Jane, Thanks for your comment. I now have a much smaller garden to look after. I didn’t do much for the first 9 months. I used the time to get to know the patterns of light and shadow, the soil and weather. I then decided to convert the lawn area in the back yard to garden beds and have enjoyed developing this new area.

      When there is a garden, no matter how small, there is always something to do.

  2. It’s always a garden of the heart when it has plants from special people in it. Your garden was something I’d have loved to visit ♥

    • Yes Enivea, Gardens can have significance for a range of reasons. It is true there can be a heart connection for the gardener with a garden.

  3. Your story is almost exactly like my mum’s story. She lived at the same address for over 20 years and put in a magnificent garden of glorious deciduous trees and shrubs but when it came time for her to move to smaller (and more easily managed) accommodation she took as many cuttings with her as she could and moved. The whole garden was bulldozed down to make 3 units on. I have that lemon coloured callistemon here (at least 2 of them) and that rose looks a lot like the “bourbon” rose that mum had in every single one of her homes (grown from cuttings each time). We have our memories of past gardens and they say that you should just walk away and never go back. A horticultural friend had a gorgeous garden that she created from cuttings and a lot of hard work. It was magnificent, it would have cost a fortune to buy in pots and it was an amazing mix of some very interesting and beautiful unusual plants. When she sold her home the new owners razed the lot. Why would you buy a house with such an exquisite garden only to destroy it?! I guess some people just don’t understand the value and power of a garden. I can’t wait to see your paintings Margaret and it’s lovely that you have photo’s to work from and remember your lovely garden by 🙂

    • Hi Fran, I did not try to take cuttings with me as I was moving to rental accommodation initially. I did not know what my long term home would be like.

      I did encourage friends and family to come and take away plants they liked. The productive trees – a lemon, lime, persimmon and pomegranate found a home in Noble Park.

  4. How wonderful to find these photos and remember your “chaotic” garden. It’s sad that it is all physically gone.. but your drawings and photographs will make for lovely memories.

    • Yes Lori, Nothing lasts for ever. I knew when I sold the property, it was likely the house and garden would make way for a new development as my home was close to shops and services.

      I was taken aback, however, when I saw how all signs of my 25 year occupancy had been extinguished.

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