Today is the birthday of the charismatic Australian gardener, designer & writer Edna Walling who was born on this day in 1896.
Edna created some gorgeous gardens in Australia. She is remembered for her beautiful wonderful books on gardening & landscaping. Edna worked nonstop for four decades between the 1920s and 1960s, creating over 300 gardens. Many Australians regard her as the most excellent landscape designer that Australia has ever known. Her books and garden designs continue to be an inspiration. Edna was a conservationist at heart. And, Edna was ahead of her time. She advocated for the use of native plants, which were naturally drought-hardy - a must for the harsh climate of Australia. And, given her pragmatism, Edna usually preferred perennials over annuals. She wrote about the backlash that she received from a friend in November 1941:
"[I got] a letter from a friend the other day who addressed me "Dear Anti-annual!" Oooooh, what have I said? Something rude about Iceland poppies or asters? How narrow-minded of me. "If you can't grow them yourself you needn't be snippy about them", she thinks."
It was Edna Walling who said,
"Nature is our greatest teacher."
Edna's work and legacy were brought to light by Peter Watts, who wrote about Edna as part of his thesis in college. The paper became the basis for a book published by the National Trust, and it fueled Peter's love for historic gardens. In an article for ThePlantHunter.com by Georgina Reid, Watts said that,
"Walling would be regarded now as a bit old-fashioned. She was a gardener’s designer – a brilliant plantswoman who understood the subtleties of gardening and design...[and that Edna] always thought gardens should be just a bit bigger than they needed so that you couldn’t control them entirely."