Friday, July 1, 2011


Yippee...Its been well worth the wait but finally a book arrived today from China, City+Design+Evolution, Unique Landscape design from 6 Continents. Pedro F Marcelino.  8 pages on 'Wigandia' using my photographs and text by the great writer Trevor Nottle. The best printed stuff on my garden bar none. 
You won't find this book at your local it in UK/USA/AU..we are too obsessed with English speaking garden stuff. Our loss.

Wiiliam Martin at ‘Wigandia’

by Trevor Nottle

A volcanic cinder cone covered in seer yellow grass and a few dusty Casuarina  trees rises above a sparse landscape of black soil, black rocks, more yellow grass and straggling brown lines of hedged hawthorn and avenues of decrepit elms. The place is Mt Noorat in the Western districts of Victoria, Australia far from the English landscape that it tries to copy. It fails; this place isn’t England.

Halfway up the cinder slope a tuft of trees – gums and she-oaks marks the spot where William Martin has made his home, and where he rejects the English retrospective idioms of Rosemary Verey, Gertrude Jekyll and her latter-day Australian mimic, Edna Walling. He’s not concerned with Bali style gardens or Japanese gardens or Renaissance gardens. There are no Romantic, green and lush Summer idylls here. Instead William takes as his starting point for creativity his own knowledge and experience of this place: summer dry, winter wet, yellow grass, green grass, the constant black of rocks and soil; the wild wind that blows incessantly, the huge blue sky and the low dark clouds; the exposed nature of the hillside and the distant views below of an ancient landscape that hasn’t succumbed to the tender nurturings of gardener and grazier. To this understanding he applies his personal vision of what a garden would be here in this place. It is a vision that encompasses a profound interest in making a garden as opposed to simply living in the bush. ‘Wigandia’ is a garden. It moves with the rhythm of the seasons that move across it. The rhythm is scored by William into a musical episode, an opera buffo perhaps – light, witty, a little risqué, a bit provocative with it own parts in presto – ephemeral winter and spring flowers, forte – the towering furcreas and dasylirions, piano – the feathery grasses, adagio – long drifts of low orange, red, brown, grey succulents, pizzicato – spiky aloes and agaves, alla breve – the short, sudden impact of colletia and carissa, accelerando – high and blowzy buddleja, giant reed and melainthus, crescendo – the overpowering landscape, largo – the slow passage of the sun and shadows across the garden. The movements and entire composition are orchestrated according to William’s intimate observation of each botanical ‘instrument’ and each part played by him with consummate skill. Every piece is just so – balanced but poised to strike off new ideas and fresh associations; invested with sculptures and installations that add spark and sharpness to the scene as progress is made around the whole creation. Each point and counterpoint adding to the mounting thrill of realisation that this place is of this place, like no other – unique and true to itself just like a composition by Phillip Glass or a work by Ian Hamilton-Finlay.

Like other modern composers William’s work finds a small, but appreciative audience. Those who find his work jarring and discordant are those who are ruled by their adherence to the outmoded conventions of gardening repertoires written for other climates and the other hemisphere. The jarring and discordance come from closed minds attuned to echoes from a distant past, a pastoral Romance or a Claudian dream, not from what is happening on the slopes of Mt Noorat. Here what is happening are the first steps, confident and bold, towards a future for gardens that come to terms with their natural settings, accept it and interpret it accordingly without a backward glance.


  1. Congrats to Wigandia! I'm sure that section of the book will be visually distinct.

    What's that in the eye catching photo? Are you using a macro lens?

  2. I guess it would be illegal if you showed us the 'Wigandia' photos from the book? How can anyone get hold of a copy if they're interested, Billy?

  3. I will investigate sales for the book..I don't have pdf of the article but will try to scan the heavy duty book..its probably made with AU woodchips and the quality is great..unlike so many books an old fashioned book..cloth and bound

  4. Trevor's a wonderful writer. Makes the point about your garden, and why it's so important in this new world, clearly and elegantly. I hope this book can be obtained in some way. Is there an Amazon in China?

    Congratulations! They used your photos AND renamed your garden...

  5. Hi james.. Trevor has been railing against the silly inherited traditions for a long time..we in the new world have every opportunity from cultural and plant range etc to do a fabulous job of it without the tired old UK cliches...'prairie' i have decided is not a 'look' but an that cannot be contained by fashionable titles.. I have made a garden not in response to the garden book world but to my region and culture..I have no problem with 'style' just as long as it is not a wastrel.The information age has created way too much copy book stuff and for me this stuff does not ring true by any account. It would be great to see all the writers of garden 'style' and 'looks' books actually get down and dirty and create their own many 'designers' i suspect could not design much beyond the shop front gardens they produce for shows!
    I doubt China plays the Amazon game but I will check out their retail facilities and post what i find!

  6. Faisal here is link to the book chapter