Life On The Job

Famous or Historic People

Famous Australian Landscape Designer, Edna Walling (1895–1973)

Edna Walling with her dog Brian
Edna Walling with her dog Brian


"Edna Margaret Walling (1895-1973), garden designer, was born on 4 December 1895 at York, England, second daughter of William Walling, furniture dealer's clerk, and his wife Harriet Margaret, née Goff.

The Walling family came to Melbourne, Australia in 1914."
(Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography)

The gardens she created typically exhibited a strong architectural character. For clients in the wealthy suburbs of Melbourne and on country estates, her designs included grand architectural features—walls, pergolas, stairs, parterres, pools and colonnades—woven into a formal geometry; but she always found a space for a 'wild' (unstructured) section. As her standing increased, she took up commissions in South Australia and New South Wales.
(Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography)

Education & Training:

Encouraged by her mother, Edna studied at the School of Horticulture, Burnley, gaining her government certificate in December 1917. Asked by an architect to plan a garden, she jumped at the opportunity. More commissions followed and by the early 1920s she had built a flourishing practice in garden design.(Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography)

University of Melbourne Burnley Campus website
University of Melbourne, Burnley Campus


Edna Walling is synonymous with Australian garden design. Although she died in 1973, her love of blending native plants and exotics, thyme lawns, informal garden pools, handbuilt paths, and integrating the house with a serene yet untamed garden, is still influential in garden design today.

Between 1937-1948, Edna wrote a regular column 'Letters To Garden Lovers' for the 'Australian Home Beautiful' magazine. This book is a compilation of those fascinating letters. Intimate and inspirational, Edna's letter reflect her personal experience, practical advice and passion for plant groupings, garden design, colour, paving and rockwork, as well as her enthusiasm to encourage readers to create a garden full of surprises.
(Source: QBD Bookshop: Letters to Garden Lovers)

Edna Walling's Letters to Garden Lovers

By the 1940s Walling's was a household name and she capitalized on her popularity by publishing four successful books:

Gardens in Australia (1943) Gardens in Australia

Gardens in Australia: Their Design and Care facsimile edition of the author’s copy by Edna Walling.
Published by Bloomings Books. ISBN 1876473150. Recommended retail price $36.95.

This book has a twofold purpose – to give pleasure, as a thing of beauty, while also providing practical help to those making new gardens or intending to reconstruct old ones.
(Source: Pacific Island Books)
Cottage and Garden in Australia (1947) Cottage and Garden in Australia
Read about this book at the ABC's Walling website

A Gardener's Log (1948) A Gardener's Log

Edna Walling was one of Australia's great landscape designers. For gardeners and for garden-lovers alike, her name conjures up images of stone walls and steps, arching and scrambling roses, ornamental pools, drifts of ground cover - and, above all, a gentle wildness. She sought always through her designs to link house and garden, to make the outdoors a living space.

Walling was also a gifted writer who managed to be both lyrical and engagingly straightforward. 'A Gardener's Log', first published in 1948, is a collection of her articles from the magazine Australian Home Beautiful. Described by Walling as "the notebook of a garden-maker", it has the intimacy of a diary and the authority of a practical landscaping text.

QBD Bookshop: A Gardener's Log)
The Australian Roadside (1952) Australian Roadside

 A further monograph, On the Trail of Australian Wildflowers, appeared posthumously in 1984. (Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography)


Her regular gardening columns (1926-46) in Australian Home Beautiful enhanced her reputation and extended her influence.(Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography)

Australian Home Beautiful
(Source: ABC's Edna Walling site)


Edna Walling designed Bickleigh Vale.

In the early 1920s Walling had acquired land at Mooroolbark [east of Melbourne] where she built a house for herself, known as Sonning. Here she lived and worked, establishing her nursery and gathering around her a group of like-minded people for whom she designed picturesque 'English' cottages and gardens. She named the area Bickleigh Vale village. (Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography)

Bickleigh Vale
ABC's Gardening Australia: Bickleigh Vale

View the Video of Bickleigh Vale (2008 - 5th December)


Edna Walling designed the garden at Markdale for Mr. and Mrs. G. Ashton in 1947. Markdale is in Binda, N.S.W:

Markdale Garden
Markdale Garden, near Crookwell NSW

Edna designed gardens for some famous Australians - Dame Nellie Melba, Dame Elizabeth Murdoch


By 1967, tiring of the characterless suburbs advancing towards Bickleigh Vale, she moved to Buderim, Queensland, to be in a warmer climate and near to her niece Barbara Barnes.(Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography)


ABC's Edna Walling site

Edna Walling

This is a comprehensive website about the life of Edna Walling showing her work as a Landscape Designer/Architect, a Writer, a Photographer and as a Person.
Bickleigh Vale

Bickleigh Vale
Australian Dictionary of Biography: Walling, Edna Margaret (1895–1973)

Australian Dictionary of Biography - Edna Walling
Buderim Foundation: Edna Walling

Buderim Foundation
State Library of Victoria: Edna Walling

State Library of Victoria

Edna Walling

Edna Walling


Create Your Own Garden Design

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle  High SchoolSecondary

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking


1. Design your garden on paper incorporating:

a. grass

b. flower beds

c. trees

d. water features

e. outdoor furniture/seating

f. paths

2. Use the Yates online tool to visualise your garden design.

Create your own garden design - Online!

Yates' Virtual Garden

"This interactive tool allows you to create your very own garden design with just a click of a mouse. You can be as creative as you like, or if you prefer, create a complete garden design to implement in your own home garden.

The virtual garden enables you to move and place garden elements such as flowers, vegies, trees, shrubs, grass, pavers, outdoor furniture and much more. As you add elements to your garden, related gardening articles and expert advice will appear underneath to help you maintain your garden. Plus there are many helpful tips that appear along the way."

(Source: Virtual Garden)

3. Share with a group of 4 - 5 students.



Material sourced from 
ABC's Edna Walling website
Australian Dictionary of Biography
QBD Bookshop: A Gardener's Log
Wikipedia: Edna Walling

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