Alex, Author at Kilby Park Tree Farm

Industry Insider: Julie Crowe Design

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Last year, one of Kilby Park Tree Farm’s favourite customers Julie Crowe Design completed what we believe is a really stunning project which deserves some recognition. Working with Transforming Landscapes, Julie designed a beautiful mid-sized garden packed full of intelligent plant choices and glittering black granite. The choice of polished stone rather than a lawn adds a modern, contemporary vibe to the garden and perfectly compliments the low maintenance but bold aesthetics of the plant choices. Perfect for a young, growing family. Below, Kilby Park Tree Farm asks her a few questions about the garden:


Congratulations on your spectacular design and the team at Transforming Landscapes for making it happen. Can you talk us through the main parts of the design?

The main areas of the design comprise of 3 components. The overall garden is a sensory garden. The centre space is the “sense of arrival” as you enter through the front gate & make your way up the curved stairs. This denotes that you have “arrived”. The destination is here.

To the left is the 2nd area which I see as the “tranquillity” space with the polished black granite wet edge water feature. I chose polished black granite for the dramatic contrast with the plant material but the beautiful reflective quality it gives. The water feature reflects its surroundings – the sky, plant material & natural & artificial light at night. The wall behind is designed at seating height for you to come close & experience the water, feel it, listen to the sounds. 

Thirdly the circular Space with the curved concrete cantilevered bench is a contemplative space. The use of Crushed Granite evokes a more relaxed feel & sound underfoot. The location of the bench seat beneath the pleached Snow Pears (Pyrus novalis) provides a vista across to the water feature & mirrored pleached Snow Pears on to the opposing space. This is very much a framed view to stop, reflect & relax. 


What were your main considerations when designing the project for your client?

Considerations for the space from the client was the access from the street & driveway. An interesting outlook from the front windows of the property were paramount. Relatively low maintenance but interesting foliage/flower contrasts. Preferably no lawn as they live close to the local park & oval.  Interest at night with lighting & the “sparkle” from the water feature. It’s a sense of arrival for visitors & dealing with level change in an interesting way over a short distance.


When designing the landscape, was there a part that was particularly challenging?

The most challenging was dealing with the level changes over short distances, but at the same time meeting the brief criteria that the client set.


Was it your intention to contrast the Cercis Avondale with the polished concrete and the property so vividly? Or did it only become apparent during the construction process?

I was walking through Kilby Nursery on a glorious day with Tanya & saw the Cercis “Avondale”. We had selected the other mass planting species – Teucrium, Viburnum “Emerald Lustre”, Loropetalum “China Pink”. We felt that the vivid pink blossom would contrast dramatically against the polished black water feature & grey tones of the granite. The client & neighbours thought they were stunning. They were the talk of the street!!


Did you have to adjust your design during the build process due to unexpected occurrences? 

We didn’t have any changes during the construction process. The Pin Oak (Quercia palustrus) which is a street tree immediately out from this front garden space has extensive root system within the garden. Transforming Landscapes were fantastic at making this work with the intended design. It is apparent once you start setting out the design that any slight change affects other design elements. Particularly the layout of the garden walls & radial paving. 

You can contact Julie by emailing her at or on Instagram with @juliecrowedesign.

Kilby’s Party in the Park: A Wrap-Up

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  Last week, Kilby Park Tree Farm hosted its annual Party in the Park. It’s our way to thank our customers for their year’s custom, to introduce Kilby’s ten acres to other members of their business and to connect with our clients on a personal level outside of a work capacity. 

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  A miserable Melbourne morning with threats of rain gave way swiftly to clear skies and a mellow sun. The staff, after working so hard creating the party’s installation, were to be found visibly relieved behind the Vietnamese food stand, Shiraz in hand. Straw bale seating, the rustic music stage and the petting zoo all lent Kilby a rural ambience – if it wasn’t for the stunning decorative displays of Kilby’s tree stock you’d be forgiven for thinking this was an agricultural farm in the heart of Kew.

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  This year’s event was grander than the last. Although still aiming to retain an intimate feel, the planning and execution were stepped up compared with last year. DJ’s spun relaxed records in the sun whilst customers ate quality food and enjoyed a Sunday arvo drink. Live bands performed with a green backdrop of grass and saplings. Customers had the opportunity to introduce their families and coworkers Kilby’s stunning grounds.

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The star of the show this year was undoubtedly the petting zoo. A firm favourite with both the adults and children, it was a bustling hub of activity which entertained the children, provided some charming childhood photos and buoyed everyone, adults and kids alike, who came into contact with the infant animals. The gleeful mood of the party was most prominent here, but anywhere you went families and colleagues were lounging on the grass, laughing and drinking.

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This wasn’t just a chance to relax, however. There was a large industry presence at Kilby that day, with stalls and companies selling a range of hardware and clothing options to refresh those Monday morning blues the next day. One of the most rewarding parts of the experience from Kilby Park’s end was observing the networking opportunities opening up on the day: A chance for likeminded industry professionals to meet, socialise and discuss experiences or potential business collaborations. Whether it was a representative from a Melbourne nursery, a team of local landscapers or a landscape architect – connections were being made. It felt as if the industry had a home for the day.

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Towards the end of the afternoon, Kilby Park presented its raffle to guests – a tree of their choice. It wrapped things up well and encapsulated the relaxed, sociable atmosphere of the afternoon and the gratitude Kilby feels towards its regular customers. A lazy afternoon’s entertainment in a beautiful setting with family, colleagues and friends – with noone spending a cent.

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GALLERY: Rotary Garden DesignFest 2016 – A Kilby Perspective

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We walk you through a couple of Kilby Park’s highlights from this year’s Garden DesignFest. 

There were some remarkable gardens exhibited throughout Victoria during Rotary Club’s seventh bi-annual showcase. From Euroa to Carnegie, some of the best names in the industry came together to display the highest benchmark in residential landscaping design and construction. Whilst Rotary have done a fantastic job in regularly organising such an event, a special thanks must be reserved for the residents who kindly open their doors over the course of these two weekends for a great cause.

The weekend before last was devoted to participants located around Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula, and would not have felt conclusive had it not been for the quintessential Melbourne weather to accompany it. Both days started out chilly and temperamental, with Saturday eventually warming to 25c. Sporadic clouds ensured bursts of sunlight and warmth throughout the weekend, but Sunday was not so fortunate. The saving grace was the downpour considerately waiting until 5pm on Sunday, when most enthusiasts were heading home.

Kilby visited heaps of gardens over the course of last weekend, with Tanya especially going above and beyond. Covering over 400km in pursuit of the most beautiful gardens in the state, she visited many dazzling entries from Kilby Park customers, including Eckersley Garden Architecture, Verdigris Design, VDB Gardens, Eugene Gilligan Garden Design and Robert Boyle Landscaping, with a personal highlight being the latter’s Ivanhoe project. We pay tribute to two of our favourite landscapes by visiting the sites, talking to the designers and shooting some photos.

Mark Van den Boom – Mont Albert


Mark Van den Boom delivers the culmination of over fifteen years of landscape design experience to his clients when he designs a garden. For his Mont Albert project, however, things got personal.

This was a family affair for VDB Gardens, the clients being relatives of Mark. Such a situation naturally leads to a level of emotional investment in the landscape that is even more intense than usual. Working for family carries a special significance in designing the perfect landscape.

Because of the close client-designer relationship, it was easier than usual to tease out the requirements of the design. Mark states that his client “has a young family and stipulated the need for a trampoline and basketball/sports area. They also wanted an area for outdoor BBQ’s and entertaining, while still allowing to keep the backyard as open as possible.” Because of the strong family orientation, the landscape needed to place functionality above aesthetics whilst still incorporating beauty – no easy task.

Strolling through the quaint front yard invokes images of a rural English cottage, with painted wooden beams, roughly cut stepping stones and multiple beds edged in with stones of varying proportion. The planting choices also reflect the cottage theme,  packed with perennials. These thoughtfully-chosen beds do have some wildcards however, and contain many wonderful Kilby Park specimens, including our Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ and Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ to add splashes of colour. Note also the Malus ioensis ‘Plena’ peeping through, which looks amazing this time of year and is one of Kilby’s best sellers.


Entering the back yard, the space opens up into a magnificent open-plan, multi-functional space. Complete with basketball court, entertainment area and trampoline flush with the ground, the plants embedded underneath are a thoughtful touch. The most striking feature of the garden is the large and beautiful meandering bed, edged with red bricks and spanning almost the entire fencing area. As the plants mature, the fencing will gradually be shielded it from view. Changing in width and depth and meandering around a large proportion of the site, the bed contains many of Kilby’s best specimens, including an advanced Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ to replace the aging centrepiece.


Whilst working on the project and stripping out the overgrowth, Mark discovered a marvelously mature Acer palmatum which in his words “not only had to remain, but demanded to be highlighted”. His choice to make this a centrepiece to base the main, widened section of the bed around has paid dividends, lending its beauty close to the entertainment area but farther away from the recreational zones. Opposite the maple lies three of Kilby’s advanced Pyrus (Cleveland Select), adding symmetry and grandeaur to the project.



Arguably the best feature of the entire garden, however, is a tiny alcove alongside the conservatory. Rather than trying to mask the strange space, Mark chose to highlight it. Adorning the far wall are clusters of Syzygiums, whilst Vitis vinifera creep up above one’s head and at the back rests a young Magnolia grandiflora ‘Teddy Bear’. Because of its alignment with the conservatory, it was essential to pack the area full of greenery to provide a quiet alcove in an otherwise open and busy garden. What was originally used as a hiding spot for the water heater has now become a tiny secluded rainforest.



Eckersley Garden Architecture – Canterbury

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With three submissions to this year’s Garden DesignFest and a growing national and international reputation, the Richmond-based Eckersley Garden Architecture is becoming somewhat of a Melbourne institution. Their Canterbury project at 21 Rochester Road was arguably this year’s pick of the bunch. Combining rolling gradients with smooth functional plains, this beautiful design drew in many enthusiasts over the weekend thanks to a minute attention-to-detail only found where genuine care, concern, and passion are present.

Walking down the offset driveway, the attention-to-detail is immediately obvious. Nestled in the overhanging tree branches above your head are half a dozen epiphytic Orchidaceae specimens, an act which speaks volumes about Eckersley’s attempt to keep offering the beholder something new and fresh.  Glancing to the right, you are greeted with an open, flowing front yard with parkland semblence and a handsome magnolia specimen as a proud centrepiece.


In reality, the contrast between the front and the back could not be more striking. Whilst the front retains an open and inclusive feel, the back yard combines functionality and privacy for a growing family with dashes of mystery. Emerging from the side access you are confronted with an imposing metallic pergola hidden amongst Parthenocissus quinquefolia. As principal designer Scott Leung explains the relative youth of the garden, and how the project was designed to improve with age, he highlights the light fixtures installed on the pergola. As the foliage starts to mature and grow, they will partially eclipse the lighting fixtures, painting patterned shadows on the patio.


Under the pergola lies an inky postmodern staircase flanked by two spectacularly happy Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ specimens. Ascending the staircase you begin on a journey through the upper terrace of the garden, lined with winding pathways, quiet alcoves and a mammoth Feijoa sellowiana so grand it looks as if two specimens have melded into one. Following the pathway round, you are greeted with a bold Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum atropurpureum’ before descending the terrace via a marvelous corridor of plum and citrus trees, with Santa Rosa and Mariposa standing independent and Mandarin Emporers cleverly weaved into the lattice work.


Emerging from the citrus corridor and turning towards the pergola, a delicate and beautiful orchid wall clings to the brickwork. Easily viewed from the comfort of the house, the wall is literally bubbling up with life and arguably the real personality of the garden with a variety of species nestled inside; everything from Den. Gracillimum to Capriconicum.

Looking beyond the orchids, you find the biggest expanse of space in an otherwise secluded garden. A paved area with Dichondra springing up between the gaps leads out to a striking Gleditsia ‘Sunburst’, the centrepiece of the lower terrace. When Eckersley said they wanted to design the garden so it kept opening up and offering more at every turn, they really meant it.

You can check out the full gallery of photos of both projects below.

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6 Spectacular Native Australian Gardens

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A well designed and well thought Native Australian garden is worth it’s weight in gold. It often takes a visionary designer to make use of the dusted pallet, but if you’re working with a native backdrop, you can use that to extend your garden. Native Australian gardens are renowned for attracting birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Add to this the use of rocks and running water – you have every ingredient you need to create a very serene and relaxing space.

Here are 6 Native Australian Gardens that have inspired us.

1. Robert Boyle – Moorooduc

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2. Fiona Brockoff Design

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3. Trailfinders Australian Garden at Chelsea

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5. Willie Wildlife Sculptures


and last but not least..

6. Simon Griffiths

Driveway at Cruden Farm


At Kilby, we’re currently stocking some beautiful Native Australian stock.

  • Corymbia ficifolia (Wild fire & Baby orange)
  • Corymbia citriodora ‘Scentuous’
  • Acacia minicog
  • Adenanthos sericeus
  • Doryanthes palmerii & excelsa
  • Elaeocarpus reticulatus
  • Tristaniopsis ‘Luscious’

Give us a ring on 9859 9190 if you’d like any help in creating a spectacular Native Australian garden.

2 Easy Ways to Brighten Up any Winter Garden

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It can be a challenge to find trees and plants that still look great during Winter months. Many plants and trees are starting to go into dormancy, but that doesn’t mean you have to get stuck with a dull and lifeless garden. There are still a number of species which display a variety of colours and textures that can be used to brighten up any garden.


Striking, bold and sculptural foliage looks great in winter when most plants are bare and dormant. Dracaena draco and Agave attenuata, with textured thick fleshy stems which support large succulent leaves, creating striking features.

Dracina draco

Doryanthes palmerii is an oustanding plant with oversized proportions. It’s long lance shaped leaves grow to two metres and the large arching flower spikes, reach out above the foliage. It’s a must for any architectural landscape design.


Acer Senkaki (Coral Bark Maple) add color to the landscape all year round but really stand out in winter when their branches are bare and the bright red colored bark is visible. Under planting these trees with masses of contrasting foliage colors, such as Arthropodiums or Loropetalums will make an awesome display.

Coral Bark Maple

We’ve got all of these in stock. Give us a ring on 9859 9190 if you’d like some help in creating a beautiful winter garden.

3 Striking Trees for Larger Gardens

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When working with larger gardens, you need dramatic trees to compliment the scale of the landscape. Here are three stunning trees that we think could help you achieve this.

Liriodendron tulipifera (above)

These fantastic trees are capable of growing to a huge size, but thanks to the harsh Melbourne climate they never really grow to their full mature height.

Tulip trees are used predominantly to create shade or used as a single specimen tree in a large lawn where they can be appreciated for their beautiful autumn colour.

The small light green flowers appear in spring, but go mostly unnoticed as they blend into the fresh spring growth.

Tulip Trees are fast growing and requiring little maintenance which makes these trees a great choice for any large garden.


Parrotia persica

This medium sized tree is well known for it’s beautiful autumn colors. Yellow, orange and red – just stunning. The new young foliage is tinted with bronze and then deepens into a dark green.

Parrotia is a hardy tree that does well under all conditions.


Magnolia exmouth

This stunning tree is famous for it’s beautiful large fragrant white flowers that appear in Summer. They can grow up to 8m and make a stunning centerpiece for any large garden.

All these trees are available at Kilby Park Tree Farm in a variety of pot sizes – so give us a ring if you’d like to find out more! You can get us on 9859 9190.

2 reasons why your plants are dying or lacking vigor

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We get heaps of people coming to Kilby asking us why plants are either dying or lacking vigor. The two most common reasons are drainage and plant selection.


Plant roots are like our feet, they need to breathe, if you feet are constantly wet and soggy, they will start to smell and eventually rot, well the same goes for plants and their roots! If the plant sits in a watery hole their roots will rot and the plant will die.

  • Digging the planting hole twice the size of the pot breaks up the soil and improves drainage.
  • Adding Gypsum to the existing soil will create soil structure preventing heavy clay turning into sludge, aiding drainage.

But most importantly, having an engineered drainage plan in the designed landscape will be the best solution to wet and waterlogged soils in gardens. It is usually an expense that people choose to ignore as it is never see, but adding drainage down the track will be a much more expensive venture.

Plant selection

Plants that are able to live in compacted conditions are usually suitable to areas with poor drainage. And choosing plants that will live in these conditions will be by far the most cost effective option available.
Many plants are available that will thrive and are all suitable to wet boggy conditions in such as Tristaniopsis ‘Luscious’, Bamboo Species, Callistemon, Plane Trees, willows and Poplars.

One last point, water does not recognize property boundaries and may affect many properties in a large area but water is a valuable resource and the backbone of our industry.

Good luck and happy planting.

Trees for fence lines

What are the best trees to plant along a fence line?

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Where a tree emerges from the ground, the land owner is responsible for all actions of said tree. Fruit fall, slip hazards, root damage and damage caused by fallen branches become the responsibility of the owner. As you can imagine, choosing an appropriate tree is important from the very beginning.

Usually ‘fastigiate’ trees are better suited for boundary plantings. These trees have a very upright, narrow growth habit, which means less over hanging branches and less potential damage.

Most common tree species have a fastigiated hybrid, Betula p.‘Fastigiata’, Carpinus b. ‘Fastigiata’, Ginkgo b. ‘Fastigiata’, Quercus palustris ‘Green Pillar’, Acer p. ‘Crimson Sentry’. There is also an evergreen magnolia Magnolia g. ‘Alta’ which is also fastigiated.

Hedges are another good option, but the neighboring properties should be taken into consideration. Most hedges will need to be clipped between two and four times a year depending on species, so when planting a hedge, be aware of the ongoing requirements.

Trees are a beautiful part of any area and add value to property prices, but remember, light and views are not owned by anyone, so unless a tree is unsafe, or is causing damages to property, there is no legal reason to remove a neighbour’s tree.

Good luck and happy planting


2 simple ways to prevent aphid attacks (and what to do when they strike)

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Aphids! It that time of year again.

As soon as the weather starts to change and the humidity rises, Aphids start appearing.


These little sap sucking ladies descend from the atmosphere once they have seen a nice green patch to land. Roses, Helleborus, and our Viburnums are a favorite of these little pests. If you’ve got some beautiful rose buds appearing, aphids are almost inevitable.

Attacking the new soft shoots, Aphids can either; stunt and deform the new growth, and/or infect the host plant with a number of viruses that can potentially kill the plant. Some Ant Species also farm the Aphids for their sweet excretion, spreading them all over the plant making the problem even worse.

But there are a few simple ways you can prevent aphids from attacking.

1. Set up white shade cloth to protect your plants or garden.
White shade cloth has been known to prevent aphid infestations. The colour confuses the aphids, and they have trouble identifying and then targeting plants from the air.

2. Use brightly coloured mulch
This follows the same line of thought as the white shade cloth. With brightly colored mulch, the aphids won’t be able to tell if it’s a delicious rose bud or mulch on the ground.

But sometimes if worst comes to worst, death is the only way.

Quickly spray the plant with a targeted insecticide as soon as you start to see them. There are ‘Eco’ friendly pesticides that you can use, but here at Kilby we use chemical pesticides, as they are fast acting and keep our plants and trees in the best condition possible.

What methods do you use?

Happy hunting.


Kilby Park Tree Farm Alex in the Bamboo

What is the best time to plant bamboo?

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Hey guys, it’s Alex here. A few weeks ago we shared the differences between 6 types of Bamboo, and since then I’ve had quite a few people ask me; when is the best time to plant bamboo? Like all things plant related questions, it depends..If the bamboo is going from a pot to the ground, then autumn and spring are the best, but if you’re able to keep the plants well watered, bamboo can also be planted in the middle of summer.


Lifting and transplanting bamboo from one place in the garden to another is very different. Late autumn, winter and very early spring are good times, it’s not too hot and the plants will suffer the least amount of shock. It is also the time to divide the clumps if you need to.

Site preparation is important, good drainage is essential and make sure that there is lots of composted organic matter in the hole and in the mix that will go back in the hole.  If the organic matter that you are putting in the hole is not properly broken down it will cause more harm than good – so your plant must be COMPOSTED. When planting, make sure the soil around the root ball is firmly compacted. Then give the plant a good watering to remove any air spaces around the roots. Water about twice a week for about two months with a diluted soil conditioner such as a seaweed tonic. This will encourage new root growth and help minimise transplanting shock

It may take a full 12-18 months for your bamboo to bounce back, but just be patient and soon you’ll start so see new fat buds.

Good luck and happy planting!