Wigandia is an 8 hectare (2 acre) property on the side of Mt. Noorat in the western district of Victoria. The garden has been described by visitors as dramatic, challenging and exciting in its design, the way it addresses the exposed and windy site, and the careful choice of southern hemisphere plants. The owner William Martin describes it as a sculptured, structural garden, designed for all seasons.
When William began work on Wigandia ten years ago, his aim was to put together a group of plants that can coexist. Some thuggish, some that won’t be bullied and some that will be bullied. He planned to create a colony of plants enmeshed to live and die; an evolving garden that rarely needs a gardener’s hand.
Plants at Wigandia
Over the last 25 years William has collected plants from gardens in decline, particularly pastoral gardens of Victoria, plants that survive in cemeteries, and escapees growing on wastelands. He has always liked the tough ‘survivor’ plants and shrubs, although most of them are now out of favour. He feels that the early Australian gardeners appreciated a greater range of plants from around the world, and that this century we’ve lost direction, always striving for the woodland gardens of England.
Instead, William has planted a mix of trees and shrubs including acanthus (Acanthus mollis), melianthus (Melianthus sp.), salvias (Salvia leucantha), variegated cordylines (Cordyline australis ‘Albertii’) and winter pokers (Kniphofia ensifolia). In this garden watch out for the fierce spines of the curious anchor plant (Colletia paradoxa) and the leaves of Wigandia caracasana, the plant that the garden is named after, which are covered with lustrous stinging hairs. William has also gone against the present trends by planting big trees in his garden, like the hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) and the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana). He thinks the araucarias just can’t be beaten as dramatic, architectural trees.
Wigandia, Morack Street, Noorat, Vic.