Passion for perennials competition - winner announced!

12 May 2021
Passion for perennials competition - winner announced!

A billowing abundance of soft perennials, which change emphasis with each of the seasons identified our winner.

Passion for perennials competition - winner announced

We asked to see the beautiful groupings of perennials in your garden as they move from their summer peak into their seed-heads of autumn. Whether you have the luxury of space to plant swathes of perennials and grasses that sway in the breeze? Perhaps you’re particularly proud of a gorgeous colour combination or a special corner you’ve brought to life with some rare and unusual varieties you’ve collected.

We’re very grateful that renowned plants-woman and garden tour guide Merryle Johnson from Country Farm Perennials offered to judge this competition and has kindly donated a $100 plant voucher from Country Farm Perennials for the lucky winner!

Read on for Merryle's insights...

It was such a pleasure to judge the “Passion for Perennials” competition for Open Gardens Victoria. The creativity, artistic talent, and plant knowledge of Australian gardeners never ceases to delight me. Each of our entrants had really created very individual garden plantings. No two were in any way alike. This aspect was especially pleasing, because each had expressed their own personality and created a very individual atmosphere within their gardens, rather than merely following fashionable trends.

It is certainly true that perennial plants are currently very popular with both home gardeners and professional designers. One might even say “trendy”. But for real gardeners, they have never been a fashionable item. They have just always earned their garden place because of their hardiness, permanent contribution to seasonal designs, and sheer variety in colour, texture, shape and structure. Not to mention their contribution to our birds, bees and beneficial garden insects. The world of perennials is a fascinating one, in history and contemporary garden design.   



I would like to particularly commend Lorena Lopez Santana for her joyous and vibrant use of colour in her largely shaded garden.


A shaded area is often difficult to make sing with colour, but Lorena cleverly combined different and quite strongly contrasting coloured foliage with Heucheras, variegated foliage Euphorbias, and grey or golden foliage groundcovers, to create a permanent glow of colour contrast in the shaded areas.


Then the seasonal flowers of her shrub Hydrangeas became the icing on the cake, but the cake was quite definitely made from permanent foliage colour contrasts. Lorena’s garden is aglow with vivid colour and clever planting that really revs up the shade and dispels any possible sense of gloom.



I would also like to especially applaud the lovely and subtle plant combination created by Susan La Marca. 


With just three plants, Susan has created a beautiful and blended colour area of pinks, reds, peach and burgundy. She has then repeated the combination several times to make waves of blended colour flow down the path. Susan has put together Limonium peregrinum – Pink Perennial Statice, plus Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum – Purple Fountain Grass, with a grey leaved Cotyledon. She has created lovely blending colours, but given it substance created by the wide contrasts in foliage shape and texture. Plus, the plumes of the Purple Fountain Grass, which stir in even the faintest breeze, give permanent animation to her pathway. Susan’s welcoming pathway combination is interesting, hardy, and water-wise, as well as beautiful all year round.


Special mention

Special mention must also be made of the creativity of Karen McInnes. Karen has made a large garden haven for birds and insects, as well as her family, in northern Victoria.

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Karen’s use of heat and dry hardy Salvias, Perovskias, Achilleas and other long flowering perennials, all planted in large and generous swathes, is an outstanding example of working with your environment rather than against it. The honey eating birds must be beside themselves working all those nectar rich flowers through the months. 

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And her family must delight in the riot of colour all year round. Karen has ensured all these things in her planting combinations.


Overall winner

But, the overall winner must be Carolyn Gasson. Carolyn has created a truly individual garden space of great atmosphere, from an area that was transformed just two years ago.


She has used wooden structures to give height, laid cleanly surfaced and crisply edged paths, and enclosed with trellis fences, all to give a strong formal structure as the background to her plants. Though glimpses through to the wide surrounding landscape are also provided, to give great sense of space appropriate to the country setting. Then inside this strong structure Carolyn has planted a billowing abundance of soft perennials which change emphasis with each of the seasons.


This space will give interest and pleasure all year round. Carolyn’s bold use of foliage textures and contrasts, and her use of plants which can move with the country breezes, must also be acknowledged in helping to create the special atmosphere of this new space. For Carolyn it is much more than just flowers when choosing her perennial plant combinations.

Congratulations and thanks to all our “Passion for Perennials” entrants, who have enriched the unique beauty and creativity of Australian gardening.              

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