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A Dreamy Dahlia Garden On A Regional Family Farm

Gardens

Daylesford Organics farmers Kate Ulman and Brendon Eisner live on 50 acres of forest and orchards that make up their farm in regional Victoria, with their three kids, Indigo, Jarrah and Pepper.

In the heart of their block is an incredible garden, comprising a kitchen garden right outside their doorstep, and a larger, flower, veggie and berry garden on top of a hill at the Musk Vale property.

These picturesque grounds are straight from the pages of a country living magazine, with abundant rows of brightly coloured dahlias, perennial plants, and an amazing sunroom nearby – complete with lush indoor vines! We recently stopped by for a visit.

25th April, 2022

Kate Ulman and Brendon Eisner are organic farmers. Their kitchen garden sits outside the front of the house and consists of scattered raised garden beds made from railway sleepers. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

One of the aims of the garden was for it to be as beautiful as possible – the flower garden delivers that in spades! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Kate Ulman and Brendon Eisner, of Foxs Lane. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The garden sits in the heart of 50 acres of forest and orchards that make up Kate and Brendon’s farm. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Pompom Dahlia and Anemone in the garden. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘Dahlias really thrive when they are watered and fertilised regularly,’ says Kate. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Kate’s dahlia garden was inspired, in part, by flower farmer Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Dahlias in the garden. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘A friend who visited the farm in autumn recently described the garden as an art installation. I love that!’ says Kate. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘Whenever possible, we try to use only materials and plants grown on our farm,’ explains Kate. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Autumn is Kate’s favourite time in the garden because the flowers are exploding with colour and the bees and butterflies are flitting around, hard at work. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

In the morning light, the full brilliance of the dahlias at peak bloom are revealed. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Kate says the vision for the garden was, ‘one of us strolling through the garden with a basket on our arm, filling it with food and flowers as we go.’ Mission accomplished! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘My favourite part of the garden is the part that contains the newest thing,’ says Kate. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A bouquet of dahlias! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The kitchen garden. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Kate and Brendon’s kitchen with some beautiful cut dahlias from the garden. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Kate cares for seedlings in her garden shed. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘Every part of each build has been approached with environmental impact at the forefront,’ explains Kate. They’ve recycled many materials to re-imagine spaces. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Christina Karras
Monday 25th April 2022

Organic farmers Kate Ulman and Brendon Eisner started focusing on their family’s garden about 10 years ago, when their busy farming life began to slow down.

The couple had already been living on their sprawling regional property, just outside of Daylesford, for 12 years when they realised they were missing the joy of having a home garden, alongside their market garden.

Kate and Brendon’s dream was to create ‘a beautiful, productive space that feeds our bellies and nourishes our souls’. One of the first changes they made was to plant a kitchen garden for home use. This garden was strategically positioned so close to the house, that the couple’s daughters could be sent out ‘to pick their own afternoon tea and flowers for their bedside tables’.

‘We seem to expand the garden every season,’ Kate says. ‘We trial more varieties, we experiment with different growing techniques, and we try to extend the season by growing enough to preserve in jars for the leaner times of the year.’

For the thriving dahlia garden, Kate and Brendon looked to world-famous flower farmer Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers for inspiration. While they’ve mastered the art of flower farming now, evident in the towering rows of colourful dahlias and other blooms, Kate says establishing this garden took ‘a lot of trial and error’.

One of the biggest challenges was protecting their stunning foliage and produce from local wildlife. Kate says they resisted fencing off the garden as it ‘interrupts the flow of the landscape’, but after a few too many disappointing seasons, they had no choice but to establish a boundary – cleverly training climbing roses and beans to beautify the fence.

In winter, the frosty and wet weather prevents the family from spending too much time in their incredible garden, but in the warmer months they often find themselves ‘planting, thinning out, weeding, mulching, tying things up, fixing irrigation, fertilising, and dead heading from dawn to dusk’.

‘Autumn is definitely our favourite season, because it’s when the garden is at its most productive and beautiful,’ Kate explains.

‘Each time you visit there are new things to discover and admire. The veggies and berries are ripe for the picking, the rows of flowers are exploding with colour, the bees and the butterflies are flitting about and the hard work we’ve been doing for the other nine months of the year finally makes sense’ Kate muses. ‘A friend who visited our farm in Autumn recently described the garden as an art installation. I love that!’

The family also share their dreamy regional life on Kate’s blog and Instagram account, Foxs Lane.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net