In the Victorian High Country, a nature-loving artist has painted his garden in a rich palette of perennials.

Story + Photos Ricky French  

Seasons are felt strongly in Barwite, 15km from Mansfield, Vic, and nowhere more so than in Ralph Bristow’s ‘Barwitian Garden’, a rousing example of a wild perennial garden singing in perfect harmony with nature.

It’s late summer and the 1.2ha garden is in full colour, the purple spires of agastache and the electric blue agapanthus popping against the soft tones of strategically integrated grasses, the building blocks of the ‘New Perennial’ movement from which this highly textural garden takes its cues.

But it’s the promise of autumn and beyond that has Ralph excited, when colours rust, the vibrant flower heads of the rudbeckia and echinacea become blackened cones, grasses turn butterscotch, and the garden takes on an almost agricultural palette of honey, oat and wheat. Winter rachets up the drama, bringing thick blankets of frost, while spring is a clean slate, the show starting afresh. “There are countless ways of finding beauty in a garden,” Ralph says. “I’m open to all possibilities.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #154

Outback Magazine: April/May 2024