A Serendipitous Backyard From Two Lifetime Gardeners

John and Jenny Shaw have been residing on this property in Woodend for 50 years, round half the time there’s been a home on it. The residence dates again to the primary World Conflict, and among the flora has been there even longer. 

There are three oak bushes relationship again a century, and a stately mannagum that John estimates is 300-400 years outdated. These historic bushes are complemented by new crops and flowers that John and Jenny have added over time: camellias, ash bushes, productive veggie beds, 30 rhododendrons, peach, apricot, apple bushes and hazelnuts that refuse to bloom. Typically folks present them specimens, which the pair incorporate into the present house. 

It’s an intuitive backyard – serviced by a big composting system – that has advanced with the whims of its homeowners. 

Within the ‘70s, the pair ran the home as an event-space for personal capabilities, placing the Federation-era wine cellar to make use of and serving retro menus from their very own kitchen. The home was stuffed with folks and dialog – it was a spot for gathering and assembly new neighbours, who dined amongst the Shaw’s household life. 

‘Rising up on this place has had an impression on the children,’ says John of his sons. One was married within the yard and one other is Ben Shaw, permaculture knowledgeable on the Victorian surf coast. 

This tradition of sharing has even impacted the evolution of the backyard. There isn’t any actual fence on the rear, which means the Shaw’s backyard spills into the neighbour’s land – an association that fits them each completely. He describes the sprawling vista from his window as 100 metres of ‘mixed backyard’ that stretches out to the neighbouring home. 

‘We don’t have a standard two metre picket fence, which provides me an additional 30-40 metres of the opposite folks’s backyard,’ says John. ‘And likewise with them, they take pleasure in our backyard. It offers a way of house.’

This notion of non-proprietal gardening underpins one other key a part of John’s plot: the verge backyard. 

A verge backyard is a shared productive backyard cultivated on a garden or nature strip, from which passers-by can accumulate fruits, greens and herbs as they please. The verge backyard is protected by an unstated contract between neighbours: belief that nobody will pilfer or destroy it. This public a part of the backyard planted and maintained by John and hedged by hay bales is probably his favorite piece of land, stretching as much as 30m lengthy beside the street outdoors his home.

‘The extra that individuals may try this the higher,’ says John of the group house. ‘If it’s handled with respect, it does one thing for folks’s sense of equanimity or security, that they’re residing in an space the place somebody can do one thing like that and it is going to be revered. It’s a quite nebulous thought. It has a profit that isn’t quantifiable.’