Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
Published July 21st 2012
You can see peeps only of cottages through the gardens
The only time I ever managed to sneak into Bickleigh Vale was when one of Edna Walling houses was up for sale. Then I was a few minutes late and the estate agent was just locking the door.
But at least I had a legitimate reason for roaming through this amazing 10ha estate which is just like an English country village with its country laneways, deciduous trees and hedgerows. In fact Walling.named the estate after the village in Devon where she grew up.
This famous gardener, about whom so much has been written, created an enchanted village for herself and her mainly female friends during the 1920s. Many of the women wore pants, unheard of at the time which earnt the estate the derisory name 'Trouser Lane.'
Edna taken while building Sonning
They formed many of their own entertainments in the gardens
Walling bought this parcel of land, in what was then the countryside, but today is better known as the unassuming suburb of Mooroolbark. She parcelled up the estate and decided just who should live there. She certainly chose those of her friends who would be in sympathy with her Arts and Crafts philosophy of garden design and architecture. This meant creating harmony between buildings and landscape.
Such is the harmony that the landscape allows only peeks of the cottages from behind the beautiful gardens. The landscape design included her signature stone walls, steps, ponds, arbours and winding gravel drives.
Walling spent most of her working life in this idyllic setting but as suburbia encroached she packed up and retired to another garden paradise in Buderim Queensland in 1967. But her estate has remained and seems always to be in the hands of people sympathetic to her ideals.
Normally guests are not all that welcome, in fact this is not an estate you can drive through and outsiders are always expected to park their cars outside in Pembroke Road.
However thankfully, Bickleigh Vale is occasionally open to the public as part of the fabulous Open Gardens Scheme. This year that opening is coming up on Sunday the 16th of September.
There will be seven of her gardens open to the public in Bickleigh Vale and you just have to love their English names: Badgers Wood, Devon Cottage, Downderry, Mistover, The Sheilan, The Barn (Wallings first home) and Wimborne.
This village survives as Walling's largest single creation, and is an extraordinary experiment in urban design.