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Stephen Ryan and Craig Lidgerwood showed Don around ‘Tugurium’, their cool climate garden at Macedon in Victoria. Many Victorian’s know Stephen as a gardening author and broadcaster, as well as a nursery owner. He is the proprietor of Dicksonia Rare Plants, one of only a handful of rare plant nurseries in Australia.

Happy hovel

Stephen is an enthusiastic gardener who believes that gardening should be fun. He told Don that people should be “out there enjoying it”, rather than trying to follow fashions or please the neighbours. The fun at Tugurium starts with its name, which is Latin for ‘hovel’. On the day we visited a crazy pair of Burmese cats romped and frolicked amongst flowering dahlias (‘Agean Skies’ and ‘Bishop of Llandaff’), tall stems of Clerodendrum bungei topped with pink, pompom flowers, reddish pink tassels of Amaranthus caudatus, and mauve-pink flowering Clematis ‘Twilight’.

Fun items in the garden include a spider topiary, and a shed roof covered with a layer of potting mix and planted out with a carpet of succulents!

Controlled clutter

Stephen is keen to promote plant diversity, and so he has filled his woodland garden with a great variety of textures, colours and foliage forms. He uses unusual plants as pieces of sculpture, to stimulate and draw attention to different areas of the garden. Stephen describes his gardening style as ‘cluttered but controlled’. He fills every available space with a plant so there’s no room for weeds to grow, but still maintains the plant material so that no plant swamps another.

Formal, edible garden

Two years ago Stephen purchased the neighbouring property, where he and Craig are establishing a more formal garden with straight paths and curving lawns, in response to the more open site. This area has an edible theme, with parsley and coloured lettuce throughout the ornamental borders, asparagus amongst the nasturtiums, and plantings of unusual fruit trees such as nashi pears, quinces, medlars and citrus.

Further information

Our segment was filmed with Stephen Ryan and Craig Lidgerwood at Tugurium, 8 Centenary Avenue, Macedon, Victoria. The garden will open under Australia’s Open Garden Scheme on the 30th November and 1st December, 2002. For details phone the open garden hotline on 1902 261 026 closer to the time.

Dicksonia Rare Plants
Mt Macedon, Victoria
Phone: (03) 5426 3075

Stephen Ryan’s new book ‘More Exceptional Plants’ will be released in September. The publisher is Hyland House.