Garden Inspirations

The Patriarch's Garden

Designer: Mark Browning, Cycas Landscape Design

An ode to a father

Mark Browning’s stunning tribute to his father at the 2014 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show captured the attention of many, not least the show judges who awarded three accolades to the display – a Show Garden Gold Medal, the Mark Bence Award for Construction, and the coveted City of Melbourne Award of Excellence for Best in Show.

“It’s a garden for my dad who passed away from kidney failure last year,” explains Mark Browning of Cycas Landscape Design.

“Ironically his last outing before he went into palliative care was to the garden show. So I decided at that point that I’d come back, and I knew at that time he wasn’t going to be around for another one, so I designed a garden around family and my perspective of it.”

Central to the garden is a 2.35m tall corten sculpture, entitled ‘Cocoon’, created by Lump Sculpture Studio. Made from hundreds of welded wishbones, the piece was designed to represent Mark’s father, and stands tall and proud in the centre of the garden. Radiating from the sculpture are spines of quarried bluestone, representing Mark and his family. Sourcing the bluestone was a major undertaking for the landscaper, with a total of fifty tonnes of bluestone travelling from Port Fairy for the show.

“I think it took 200 hours of work alone to organise the bluestone…I travelled to Port Fairy 12 times in the 9 months leading up to the show,” Mark said.

Tying together the garden is a palette of green and purple plantings, including Lomandra Seascape and Loropetulum Plum Gorgeous, which serve to soften the hard lines of the stone and knit together the individual features of the display. A partially hidden garden, viewed through a kidney shaped window holds particular sentiment for Browning, and showcases his passion for layered plantings.

“The garden behind the wall is my take on a vertical garden,” explains Mark. 

“I love seeing plants layered within spaces. That whole area is a reference to a memory I have of going camping in the high country with my father. That area of the garden is basically a conversation zone, and I just wanted greenery to back it up.”

Featured plants

  • Azalea Alphonse
  • Clivia Shademaster Yellow
  • Correa alba
  • Fatsia japonica
  • Gardenia Aimee Yoshiba
  • Helleborus Shooting Star
  • Heuchera Palace Purple
  • Laurus nobilis
  • Liriope muscari Elmarco pbr
  • Lomandra Seascape pbr
  • Loropetalum Plum Gorgeous pbr
  • Osmanthus rotundifoliia nana
  • Magnolia Cream Fairy pbr
  • Magnolia White Caviar pbr
  • Philodendron Zanadu
  • Pieris Katsuria
  • Rhaphiolepis intermedia
  • Chondropetralum tectorum