The Vision of Edna Walling
Authors: Trisha Dixon and Jennie Churchill
Hendry (1999) Book Review
The Vision of Edna Walling
Volume 1, pages 59-60
Within ten years Trisha Dixon
and Jennie Churchill have launched two superb books about the gardens created
by Edna Walling. The latest, 'The Vision of Edna Walling', is an exquisitely
beautiful book, well researched, with supporting plans, photographs, and
chronology, to reveal some of her most creative designs. Building on their
earlier experiences recorded in Gardens in Time - In the Footsteps of Edna
Walling, both Dixon and Churchill, fascinated by this remarkable woman's
prodigious forty year output, responded by producing this book. Both invite
us to catch a glimpse of Walling's gardens.
a trio, they form a unique team: the designee; who died more
than twenty years ago, and two younger women, one a garden
historian and the other
an owner of a Walling country garden. Both authors show
an amazing capacity to interpret her gardens, allowing readers
gardens created between
thirty and seventy years ago. While only a dozen gardens
remain intact out of the three hundred or so Walling created,
the stone structures within
many still exist. Some are only remnants of their former
and others have been lost forever, mostly from subdivision.
Remarkably, the plans
of many gardens remain, often treasured by their owners.
Most are now in safe keeping in the Melbourne La Trobe Library.
remarkable bond exists between these three women. All possess
a gardener's intuitive response to beauty, a skill
in both photography and journalism
and, above all, an ability to appreciate good design.
It's not surprising Dixon and Churchill warmed to the challenge
By doing so they have created a climate of appreciation
enable many of these gardens to become part of our
heritage. The resulting
supported by a group of dedicated people including
curators, a graphic designer, editor and publisher. This has
in a triumph of artistic
I visited two of Walling's gardens, Grimwade and Appledore,
as a student at Melbourne's Burnley Horticultural College
fifty years ago, with a contemporary,
Emily Gibson, another eminent garden designer. Walling's
designs created spaces for looking and walking, with the focus
you imagine how I responded to the wonder of it all as a
I never had the opportunity to meet Walling, her gardens tell
their own story; the harmony of structures with the
simplicity of space, and
the skilful use of geometry. Influenced mostly
by Gertrude Jekyll, her designs show the use of a delicate mantle
that the industrious Walling at the peak of her
produced more plans than Jekyll, preparing some thirty
to fifty a
year. By the mid 1920s, Walling
met Eric Hammond, who soon became her principal
contractor. Together they created some of the gardens we treasure
today. Within two
years of this
meeting, Walling became a regular contributor to
the Australian Home Beautiful. Over more than twenty years she
an estimated two hundred articles.
Through these articles she strengthened her design
ideas and extended her contact to a wider audience.
I visited Markdale, the country home and garden
of Geoffrey and Mary Ashton. I had longed to
walk through this
is one of Walling's best. Walling, in her almost
illegible handwriting, described it as 'one of the most interesting
gardens' she had
designed. Constructed in the late forties during
later part of her long career,
Markdale is another of the surviving treasures.
A contrast to both the Grimwade and Appledore gardens,
Markdale reveals a spectrum of Walling's design skills.
two are gardens which
rely on the created views within, while the latter
embraces the distant views as part of its composition. Both
are privately owned, and are cared for by their owners
with an attentive awareness to the plant compositions
detailed design. These cherished
gardens are part of our Australian heritage.
Dixon and Churchill
have given us a gift beyond measure in their
diligent endeavours to create this
beautiful book, which every gardener and landscape
architect will treasure.