Philip Stray’s Garden

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Well-known Melbourne landscape designer, Philip Stray, moved to a heritage-listed Victorian Gothic house four years ago. Philip’s new garden has been constructed to incorporate existing fruit trees, including quince, walnut, olives, date palms, figs and a mature pomegranate walk. Philip showed Don around the garden, which evolved as a series of linked rooms:


Greek labyrinth

This was the first room developed and reflects Philip’s love of mythology. Sawn bluestone was laid over a concrete slab, and then infilled with pebbles. This lovely sitting area is surrounded by curry plant, while a grape vine on a pergola provides warmth in winter and protection from the hot sun in summer.


English kitchen garden

As Philip’s culinary expertise developed he decided he needed a kitchen garden. All kinds of herbs are grown here, even the Burke’s Backyard Thai Chilli!


Ying & Yang lawn

This area evolved by default. It started out as a dust bowl, which Philip turfed with Kentucky Blue. When he started watering over the summer the Kikuyu grew back to form an almost perfect Ying & Yang shape.


‘Tree of Life’ path

Philip has always been interested in Celtic art and was tempted to have a Celtic tattoo. However, sense prevailed and instead he built a ‘Tree of Life’ path, a tribute to St. Vigneron’s design. It took five people five days to complete.


Vegetable garden

Good structure and segmented pathways mean that the vegie garden looks good even when the vegies have been harvested! Philip likes to participate in tomato and pumpkin growing competitions with his mate, Farmer Tim. Space here is limited, so the pumpkins have taken over the shed roof and part of the clothes line.



Philip told Don that his favourite tree is the pomegranate (Punica granatum).

Pomegranates are large, multi-stemmed erect shrubs to around 4m (12′) tall. In late spring to summer single scarlet/orange flowers with crepe-like petals appear. The fruit develops from late summer to early winter. It is yellow with heavy red shading, and has a thick rind surrounding many seeds in a reddish, jelly-like pulp. The bright, glossy green leaves turn yellow in autumn.

Pomegranates like a position in full sun. They prefer a moderately fertile, well-drained soil enriched with organic material. Prune lightly in late winter to maintain bushiness. Fruiting varieties are susceptible to Queensland Fruit Fly. In areas where fruit fly is a problem a control program must be used.

Don reckons that many Mediterranean viewers would have thousands of suggestions for cooking and eating pomegranates. He invited them to write to Burke’s Backyard, PO Box 929, Crows Nest, NSW 1585 and we’ll put the recipes on our website.

Further information

This garden will open with Australia’s Open Garden Scheme on 27-28 November 2004. Phone 1902 261 026 closer to the date.

Philip Stray
Mobile: 0414 343 917