A previously unknown original watercolour plan of a garden by the landscape designer, Edna Walling, has been discovered by Manuscripts staff, amongst the Papers of Sir William Hill Irvine (MS 14267). Sir William (1858-1943) was a former Premier of Victoria (1902-1904), and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

walling colour

Plan for the reconstruction of Garden at Wallace Avenue, Toorak, for Sir William and Lady Irvine, 1933, watercolour, pen, ink, pencil and wash on paper, MS14267/FW1

The plan is for the garden of the residence of Sir William and Lady Irvine, at 25 Wallace Avenue, Toorak, Victoria. It is a presentation drawing, showing the layout of the garden and tennis court, as well as a charming, but small elevation diagram on the upper left, showing the levels of the front garden. The plan details trees, drying area, chicken coop, flower gardens, pot plants, retaining walls, steps, paving, ornamental pool, sculpture, kitchen garden and potting shed.

The garden’s existence was already known because the Library’s Pictures Collection held two copies of this plan, a negative dyeline (H40536/1), and a print (H40536/2).

Walling print

Plan for the reconstruction of garden at Wallace Avenue, Toorak, [Vic.] for Sir William and Lady Irvine, 1933, negative dyeline (shown here as positive), H40536/1

Edna Walling often created beautiful watercolour presentation drawings for her clients (she made working copies – often dyeines, which resemble blue prints – for herself and her workers).

This particular garden plan was created in 1933, when she was not quite at her peak as a watercolourist (her technique from 1937 onwards displays true mastery of the medium), but she was certainly at her peak as a landscape architect. Just the previous year she created the garden Mawarra, in the Dandenongs, Victoria, which is regarded as her masterpiece.

Walling is Australia’s best-known and most influential garden designer. The State Library holds about 4500 of her photographs and over 300 garden plans, as well as numerous manuscripts. More information can be found on our Edna Walling webpage.

Photograph of Edna Walling taking a photograph of herself

Self portrait of Edna Walling, ca. 1930-ca. 1965. Edna Walling Collection, State Library Victoria, H96.150/278

Olga Tsara, Librarian, Heritage Collections

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This article has 4 comments

  1. We are very interested in the history of Edna Walling and her works. My husband is a gardener @ Mt Macedon and has worked on part of an old garden that she designed in Woodend.

    • Hi Marg,
      That’s really interesting. Has the garden survived intact (from the 30s, I’m guessing) or is it being restored after changes were made over the years? We have a garden plan in the Collection of a Walling garden in Woodend. I wonder if your husband referred to it in his work?
      Best wishes, Olga

  2. I am also interested in Edna Walling I write about her in my book Exceptional Australian Garden Makers and I do talks on Edna Walling. Looking forward to seeing this new discovery at the State Library

  3. Great to see this article! However the words re Cruden Farm need a slight correction. While Edna Walling designed and installed the original gardens at Cruden Farm in 1929 and 1930, including the curved driveway with its Lemon-scented gums, and the generous stone-edged turning circle in front of the house with its now huge European shade trees – it was Keith Murdoch (later Sir Keith) who hired her and she consulted with – not the very young Elisabeth, later Dame Elisabeth. Dame E felt this as a slight, and did not forget. In her final years she gradually seemed to forget these areas of the original garden were designed by Walling, referring only to the less successful walled gardens.

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