A Breathtaking Painterly Garden On The Mornington Peninsula

When our photographer Amelia Stanwix returned from shooting this garden, she said, ‘I never seen so many butterflies and bees!’

We can totally see why Ann-Maree Winter’s garden in Arthurs Seat, Victoria, would appeal to these pollen-loving insects.

The once barren site of gravel, grass and a few trees is now a wonderland of perennial and native planting, with winding paths, secret rooms and brilliantly coloured blooms.

Take a wander through it below!

Bea Taylor

Ann-Maree Winter’s garden in Arthurs Seat, Victoria, can only be described as ‘magical’.

The perennial garden at the rear of the house is broken up into circular lawn areas and gravel paths.

‘Forget-me-nots’ and Salvia nemorosa ‘Tanzerin’ provide beautiful splashes of blue and purple.

Pink Anemone sit among lush grasses and natives.

Continus, or Smoketree (bottom left) are hardy and provide dramatic colour in the garden.

Plants such as purple Veronica perfoliata provide beautiful colour but also work well with exotics and natives in semi-shaded positions.

‘The garden is so much more alive now… It’s immersive and just a beautiful place to be with the sights, sounds and movement.’

- Ann-Maree Winter

The self-seeded poppies provided a ‘pop’ of red in the garden, which Ann-Maree says she’s ‘grown to appreciate’.

From above, the layers and colours of the garden truly stand-out.

Kniphofia, or ‘Orange Blaze’.

She’s used local gravel throughout to create permeable paths.

Ann-Maree has chosen plants that will hold-up to the heat of summer with minimal watering, given they rely on tank water.

Continus (top left) and Proteas (centre) put on a dramatic show.

Ann-Maree has started working on this section of the garden, planting hardy succulents and natives in a more subdued palette.

‘I take lots of photos to remind myself of jarring notes within the composition. Sometimes I leave it, as I have with the unexpected red poppies that I’ve grown to appreciate, but won’t be repeating.’

- Ann-Maree Winter

One of the many areas to sit and enjoy the sights, sounds and movement of the garden.

Ann-Maree says the evening light captures the highlights and shadows of the garden perfectly.

Anamenthele (centre) is a wonderful, evergreen grass with gorgeous movement and warm hues, says Ann-Maree.

Ornamental grasses play a huge role in tempering the colours and making sense of them against a backdrop of farmland and gum trees, says Ann-Maree.

Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster‘, or reedgrass, is dispersed throughout the garden. ‘It creates a soft, dusky vertical accent that can either punctuate a space or create a curtain to divide different garden areas,’ says Ann-Maree.

Bea Taylor
8th of January 2024

Arthurs Seat, VIC / Bunnarong Country

Gardens like this one don’t just pop-up overnight. They’re cleverly planned, painstakingly pruned and forever a work-in-progress.

Ann-Maree Winter’s seven acre property is always changing. Her perennial garden is now in its sixth year of bloom, and it’s a symphony of colour. So, like an artist with a brush, she is continually keeping an eye on the balance of the tones and notes within the palette.

‘There is so much colour in this garden… I take lots of photos to remind myself of jarring notes within the composition,’ she says.

Sometimes, she leaves the plants as they are — as she’s done with the ‘unexpected’ red poppies in the perennial section.

‘I’ve grown to appreciate them, but won’t be repeating,’ she notes.

Other times, she’ll pull a plant that isn’t sitting well within the composition and relegate it to the ‘mish mash of the picking garden, or the compost’.

Since moving onto the property in 2015 Ann-Maree has gradually transformed the once barren expanse of gravel, grass and lomandras into a showcase of nature’s best.

The front garden features a textural combination of natives and exotics with a towering trio of Ecualypts on the lawn, and to the side is the productive and picking garden, complete with compost bays.

The back garden, also known as the perennial garden, is where Ann-Maree experiments with colour and texture.

‘The slope and exposed nature of the site has been the greatest challenge’, she says. ‘We had large rocks placed to break up the slope and we’ve planted a hedge to protect the new plantings from the wind and western sun… stepping different areas within that space has created conditions to suit a variety of plants.’

Winding paths throughout the gently sloping site lead to smaller ‘rooms’, inspired by the gardens of Jac Semmler and Jo Ferguson.

‘My favourite part of the garden is wandering the gravel paths, noticing the daily changes and looking down through the perennials and grasses to the paddocks and gum trees in the distance,’ says Ann-Maree.

Further down the hill is her latest project; a new garden area on a steep slope planted out with succulents, more perennials and grasses in a subdued palette to create a seamless transition with the distant views.

‘The garden is so much more alive now… it’s immersive and just a beautiful place to be with the sights, sounds and movement.’

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