Sam Crawford’s rolling country garden is what actual *dreams* are made of.
A landscape designer by both trade and passion, her rambling property in the heart of Macedon shire is an ever-evolving spot, one that’s been passed down from one generation of her husband’s family to the next. When he inherited this property in the early years of their marriage, she scored this enormous country garden!
‘I learnt some really valuable lessons (most the hard way) about climate, plant diversity and practicality,’ she explains of the first few years tending to the sprawling landscape. ‘I also learnt that no matter how much water you may have, plants have to be suited to the specific growing conditions!’
She’s come a long way since those first uncertain steps. Trained initially as a horticulturalist, Sam topped up her knowledge with a stint formally studying landscape design and working for Kathleen Murphy (whose incredible garden took out our Landscape Design award at the TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!). She has since branched out on her own, working for clients under own name.
‘I look at the wider environment to see how the garden can be integrated into the landscape,’ she says of her design approach. ‘I look for particular views that can be framed, and try to get a sense of scale so that the end result evokes a very natural, calming feeling that doesn’t look out of place.’
This seamless, organic transition between private landscape and wild environment is evident in Sam’s own garden, her labour of love for the last eight years! It’s here that she pays precise attention to shape of each plant and the gentle movements they make when they exist in cohesion. The living, breathing vista she has coaxed from the ‘blank slate’ she inherited has a sensitive, natural soul.
‘The shape and form of plantings is important,’ Sam says. ‘Grasses such as miscanthus pick up the movement of the natural landscape beyond the garden, mimicking the paddock grass heads in autumn while the vertical salvia nemorosa mirrors some of the marginal grasses growing on the edge of the billabong.’ She is also experimenting with ‘frost-hardy’ plants to withstand the extreme weather conditions in winter. But for all its challenges, seasonal flux delivers its own beauty.
‘I love the seasonality of the garden and watching how each plant performs under different environmental factors,’ she says. ‘At the end of the day my greatest satisfaction is looking out over what has been created and the feeling of calmness it evokes.’
Love what you’re seeing as much as we do? Check out Sam’s other projects here.
Sam Crawford has been designing her own sprawling garden since 2012. Photo – Simon Griffiths.
Left: The bountiful country plot is located in Clarkefield, nestled into the Macedon Ranges shire. Photo – Simon Griffiths. Right: Sam herself! Photo – Kim Selby.
She pays close attention to the scale and scenery beyond her immediate garden, making sure the plot she is designing fits perfectly in the frame of the wider landscape. Photo – Simon Griffiths.
Being her own space, the garden is a constant work in progress! Photo – Simon Griffiths.
‘With our changing environment and the want for ‘low maintenance’ gardens, I do find myself using a mix of Australian native plants coupled with Mediterranean or low water usage plants and perennials to give a mix of colour and seasonality,’ says Sam of her considerations when designing for clients. Photo – Simon Griffiths.
The seasonal flux can be challenging, especially in the Macedon shire where the weather toggles between such extremes! Sam is currently experimenting with ‘frost-hardy’ plants that can withstand that chilly winter. Photo – Simon Griffiths.
‘At the end of the day my greatest satisfaction is looking out over what has been created and the feeling of calmness it evokes,’ says Sam. Photo – Simon Griffiths.