8 Of The Best Productive Gardens

It’s a dream for many – growing your own food, being self sufficient, knowing your family is eating home-grown produce (with no nasties), and never setting foot in a supermarket again! For some, it’s also about turning a green-thumb gardening passion into a successful business and supplying floral joy to the public.

Today we round up eight of the best productive gardens we’ve visited over the past couple of years – real homes and real, abundant gardens, to inspire your own veggie-growing and flower farm efforts in 2018!

Lucy Feagins

Grape vines on the Narre Warren property of Horst Shoeps. He’s has been making his own wine up until recently. Of course. Is there anything this man can’t do? Photo – Kate Ballis for The Design Files.

Landscape designer Natasha Morgan’s sprawling property, Oak & Monkey Puzzle. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Ripe for the picking! Photo – Kate Ballis for The Design Files.

An avenue of Eucalyptus trees at Matt and Lentil Purbrick’s Tabilk property provides a beautiful backdrop to the neatly ordered plantings on the farm. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

‘People love the vegetable and flower garden,’ Criss Canning of Lambley Nursery says. ‘I think they’re just really thrilled to see food growing.’ Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

Pepper the dog, amongst the mulch on Matt and Lentil Purbrick’s Tabilk property. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Echinacea ‘Rich Red’ in the nursery, ‘Antique Perennials’, of Matt Reed and Michael Morant. This plant was bred by Matt and Michael. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Ann Sherry and Michael Hogan’s vegetable patch in Sydney, with raised beds built from recycled timber sleepers, framed by an exuberant Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea ‘Magnifica Tralii’). Photo – Daniel Shipp for The Design Files.

Judy Sederof’s overachieving garden in Brunswick! Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

The fruit of labour on Horst Schoeps’ Narre Warren property! Photo – Kate Ballis for The Design Files.

Harvest time in the vegetable garden with Horst Schoeps’ grandchildren, Frankie and Wilco. Photo – Kate Ballis for The Design Files.

Horst Shoeps’ granddaughter Frankie picking zucchinis in Horst’s abundant vegetable garden. Photo – Kate Ballis for The Design Files.

Artist Clare James works from a studio she and her husband made at the back of their garden. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

The garden of landscape architect and flower lover Natasha Morgan. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
17th of January 2018

Believe it or not, there’s no great mystery when it comes to productive gardens. As long as your soil is rich, you water effectively and keep your eye out for bugs, any productive garden, no matter how small, can be a success story!

Healesville based artist Clare James has a backyard full of veggies, as well as an orchard, a duck house, chook house, tree house, trampoline and more! The garden work is a family affair. The kids are keen assistant vegetable gardeners, and Mark is the chief preserver. ‘I grow the food’ says Clare, and Mark preserves it. ‘He’s good at finishing jobs whereas I’m better at multitasking, which gardening allows me to do.’

Developing her sprawling country garden has been a ‘true adventure’ for artist Criss Canning. ‘It’s been very experimental for us’ she says of Lambley Nursery – a 40-acre property which comprises her husband’s nursery business, as well as the couple’s own impressive country garden and veggie patch.

Matt and Lentil Purbrick are perhaps Melbourne’s ultimate ‘pin-up couple’ for living off the land, having established their own abundantly productive farm in Tabilk, an hour-and-a-half north of Melbourne. The pair is almost entirely self-sufficient, farming 6 acres of vegetables, fruits, flowers, meat, eggs and dairy.

Matt Reed and Michael Morant from Antique Perennials are passionate growers who grow and sell an incredibly diverse range of plants from their nursery in Kinglake, 45 kilometres North East of central Melbourne. ‘The botanical world is vast, and way, way, WAY bigger than we’re led to believe at large hardware store nurseries’ they say. ‘There’s so much more to discover, grow and understand.’

The Northcote home and garden of The Sederof Family is living proof that productivity in the garden need not be limited by square meterage! While their sixty-square-metre garden is relatively small, it grows big things. For instance, 150 eggplants in one season!

One of the most impressive productive gardens we’ve seen in recent years is that of landscape designer Natasha Morgan. At the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, just south of Daylesford, Natasha has nurtured a rundown, rural property into a hub of growth, abundant creativity and community collaboration. Natasha’s garden is a series of long raised beds, overflowing with edibles and flowers, as well as an orchard and berry patch. It overflows with enough vegetables and fruit to feed her family, workshop participants and lucky neighbours.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, is the truly magical home and garden of Ann Sherry and Michael Hogan in Sydney’s inner West. The garden here celebrates and softens the bold grandeur of the historic ‘Abbey’ house. ‘The garden is my thing, more so than the house’ says Ann. ‘I love the separate spaces within it, the flowers, and the beautiful smells. It makes me feel good. I love the fact that I can muck around in it, and that we can eat out of it. It feels as though it wraps the house up somehow. The house is a great building but the garden has finished it.’

And finally, an example that might perhaps ignite nostalgic memories for many of us – the Narre Warren garden of 78-year-old Horst Schoeps – 4000 square metres of lovingly nurtured vegetable gardens, grape vines, landscaped lawns, with swimming pool and pond system complete with rainbow trout (!), an orchard, and chickens! The absolute beauty of this garden is the way it connects the different generations of the Schoeps family. As his daughter Michelle says – ‘what I love most about Dad’s garden is that my kids get to come here and be free and wild, just as kids should be, in a garden created by their Papa. There are always new places to explore and create in. It’s a magic garden!’

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