Rick Eckersley is one of the biggest names in landscape design working with variety of clientele to create their dream gardens. Over the last six or so years Rick has had the opportunity to create a landscape to his own brief and philosophy at his Mornington Peninsula property.  He shares with us drive and inspiration behind embarking on such an ambitious project.

I’ve spent the best part of my life making gardens for friends, family and clients, and almost 20 years talking about gardening on Saturday morning radio. When it came time to retire from 3AW, I finally had my weekends back and the freedom to pursue my own interests. As it happens, my chief love is garden making! Musk cottage had the perfect bones for me to stamp my philosophy of garden making – a quintessentially Australian garden.

As a garden designer, you act as both a creative force and as a catalyst for change. It’s an exciting and strangely daunting process to create something for you alone. Where to start when there are no rules? We all have a soft spot for native Australian plants but we tend to design with mainly exotic vegetation due to public prejudices. The garden was to be recognisably Australian in flavour but seamlessly knitted with plants from around the world. A melting pot if you like.

As with any ambitious project, there were a few steps backwards before we started forwards. It was the middle of the drought

six years ago when the garden was started. Water was scarce and the dam was drying fast. So much time and effort went into drainage to harness whatever water was about. You can keep a garden on little water but it always needs some to get started.

Plants of course are the main medium in making a country garden. How you knit the choice of planting patterns and how you achieve a seamless flow over a large area is a tell tale sign of success. I try to approach all plants as equals without bowing to fashion or marketing. It’s the way they’re put together that gives them impact. Plants that react enmasse to stimuli are favourites of mine. Branches that bend and toss, graces that ripple and sway, flowers that pop in sunlight and leaves that catch pearls of dew. Colours in bark and leaves as well as flower are what makes this garden meld together. Greys, olive greens, browns and brindles are all the colours of Australia and are the base palette for the garden at Musk Cottage.

The results, I hope speak for themselves. It’s unfinished but what garden ever is finished? And what true gardener is ever satisfied? To me, the measure of success is when a garden’s beauty touches your soul and begs you to linger.

Open Gardens Victoria as part of its company relaunch has organised a weekend opening at Rick Eckersley’s Musk Cottage next weekend.  With plants for sale, activities for little people, food and coffee carts as well as local wine this will no doubt be a great weekend outing for many.  For more details click here!