Kate Herd’s appreciation of plants – their shape, texture and colour – is a central theme that influences her roles as artist, writer, garden designer and gardener. While plants are the main focus of her small-canvas watercolours and prints, it’s the bigger picture of using plants in landscapes that fulfils a vital creative need.
Sharing the land is central to Kate’s philosophy, and she has done so with the wider community ever since purchasing her 2.4ha property bordering Alphington Park in 1994. The majestic house was built in 1892 house, and tower to the north added c.1910. While the site is composed essentially of eight zones – progressing from the north courtyard and citrus and herb garden, through the main garden and amphitheatre, via the billabong and down to the Yarra riverfront – the transitions between them have been masterfully accomplished.
The main garden features numerous purple-foliaged plants, and in the central garden bed there is a high-energy colour combination of blue, purple, orange and yellow. Separating the main garden from the lower garden is a curving Westringia ‘Wynyabbie Gem’ hedge that leads to the performance space which is used for community events, music and other gatherings. The surrounding kikuyu lawn is a perfect spot for picnics, and the beautiful bronze sculpture by artist Shona Nunan, ‘The Journey’, is a stunning focus of this creative space. The surrounding garden beds are replete with grasses and other natives, and a variety of silver eucalypts are being grown for their beautiful juvenile foliage.
Below the lawn Kate is re-establishing vegetation endemic to the billabong, river flat and riverbank zones of the property. Together with the diverse native species throughout the garden, this supports an abundance of birdlife, frogs and reptiles.
At the garden opening, Kate will have two of her books available for sale: Native: Art and Design with Australian Plants and Kitchen Gardens of Australia