Potager Designs is based in Central Victoria and specialises in gardens in the area, as well as offering services in Melbourne.
The approach to design has been influenced by the harsh climatic conditions and soils of Central Victoria. A key philosophy of Potager Designs is to encourage the mixed use of edibles, medicinal plants and ornamentals based on design principles and plant requirements, and also the use of recycled and natural materials such as old railway sleepers, bush poles and salvaged bricks and corrugated iron.
Some favourite plants include Pomegranates (Punica granatum) – bright orange flowers and fruit that hangs on bare branches as early Christmas decorations following autumn; Pistachios (Pistacia vera) – arabesque branches, enormous leaves, autumn colour, and fruit with a blushed pink tone over green/yellow – breaking through the inner kernel, the green of a fresh pistachio is stunning!; Quinces (Cydonia oblonga) – delicate soft pink flowers in spring and amazing pendulous bright yellow fruit late autumn, with a fragrance that fills the room; Grasses – the sun coming through Giant Golden Oat Feather Grass (Stipa gigantea), or clumps of Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’); Purple spires of Russian Sage (Perovskia artiplicifolia) with Mexican hyssop (Agastache mexicana); Spiky plants such as Veitch’s Globeflower (Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’) and Artichokes (Cynara scolymus); Sculpit (Silene inflata) with bumble bee body flowers; The romance of poppies (Papaver spp.); And one last irresistible plant – Clematis ladhakiana – golden lamas’ hats followed by silken seed heads.
Potager Designs aims to help people with a love of plants and gardens to create a stunning space of their own, whether a new design or a rejuvenation of an existing garden. You are involved in the design and ongoing development of the garden, benefiting from all its aspects – produce, fragrances and visual aesthetics, while creating a habitat for insects, birds and wildlife.
Michael Dale: Michael is a career horticulturalist and plantsman. He has unique and extensive Australian and International experience, working in significant gardens and with world-renowned designers. This includes Bolobek, Mount Macedon, with Lady Law-Smith, which is considered to be one of the finest gardens in Australia – according to the Victorian Heritage Register, it is of outstanding aesthetic importance for its quality design, artistry and plantsmanship, the creation of garden spaces and views and the combination of plant forms.
Internationally, Michael worked with Beth Chatto at the Beth Chatto Gardens in Sussex – widely known for her pioneering design of dry and gravel gardens. While living and working in the UK he also developed relationships with and learnt from other designers including Christopher Lloyd of Great Dixter (listed in the UK National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens).
Michael is currently Head Gardener, International House, the University of Melbourne, as well as undertaking private consulting and design work. This has included establishing and maintaining one of the first restaurant kitchen gardens at the Observatory Café at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.
Julie Paul: Julie is a plant enthusiast and horticulturalist, with over 20 years experience. She worked with the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra for eight years and as curator of the Tropical Glasshouse at the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) in Melbourne. Her qualifications include Horticulture at Canberra Institute of Technology and Swinburne, and Garden Design at Burnley. As well, Julie has worked for many years in IT, and brings CAD skills to her design work.
A highlight of her career has been caring for, maintaining and curating the display of the first flowering of Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) at the RBG in 2012. Julie has an enthusiasm for plants and for imparting the joy of plants to others.
Deborah Hambleton: Deborah’s interest in gardening was inspired in the late 1970s by a stay during school holidays in Melbourne with her Great Aunt Else, who was a keen gardener. This led to a lifetime of gardening starting on her return to Tasmania, with digging up her Grandmother’s lawn and planting a vegetable garden! These interests were maintained during a corporate career of 30 years or so, as well as being a principal of Tara Imports, sourcing artefacts from overseas including India & Nepal, for use in interior and garden design.
More recently, following a move to Malmsbury and the creation of a Mediterranean-inspired garden in a former horse paddock, Deborah decided to pursue a change in career. She commenced study in Garden Design at Burnley and establishing Potager Designs in 2015. The garden Deborah designed was developed over a number of years, with speciality plants sourced locally and interstate, and unique features were installed incorporating local and recycled materials. An example of a landscape feature is a pool shed that is included in the book “Shed” by garden photographer Simon Griffiths.