Inside Jac Semmler’s Abundant + Overflowing Frankston Garden

Inside Jac Semmler’s Abundant + Overflowing Frankston Garden


by Bea Taylor

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Plant practitioner and director of Super Bloom Plant Practice, Jac Semmler, in her garden.

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The potting shed.

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Achillea millefolium, ‘red velvet’.

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‘The diversity of the plants is very notable for Heartland, and we are consistently exploring new plants, combinations and communities,’ says Jac.

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Jac’s garden has changed considerably over the years.

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Bright yellow Podolepis jaceoides. 

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Past the potting shed lies the courtyard.

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The plants on the nature strip are a great example of layered planting for dry climates, as this area of garden gets no additional water.

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Jac says she loves all flowers, but if forced to chose a favourite she’d have to pick the Australian bluebell Wahlenbergia stricta (bottom centre).

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Jac started planting on the nature strip because she’d run out of space in her garden. But this also plays into her philosophy of ‘plants for people’.

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The recent release ‘The Super Bloom Handbook: Minimum Effort, Maximum Blooms‘ and the original ‘Super Bloom: A Field Guide to Flowers for Every Gardener‘ published by Thames and Hudson are available in all great bookstores and online at The Super Bloom.

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‘The garden is an important demonstration of our approach, but so is what is possible with plants on a standard suburban block and what can be achieved in small spaces,’ says Jac.

Jac Semmler doesn’t need a street number outside her house. The overflow of flowers spilling out onto the nature strip in front of her home in Frankston is all the signage visitors need.

The plant practitioner and director of Super Bloom Plant Practice has been working on her garden, ‘Heartland’, for around six years, and it’s still evolving.

Heartland doubles as a ‘home garden’ for Jac and her partner Matthew Combe as well as a ‘plant lab’ for Super Bloom, where planting design is tested and innovative models and communities of plantings are cultivated. She’s collated all her plant knowledge in the newly released ‘The Super Bloom Handbook: Minimum Effort, Maximum Blooms’.

If you visited Heartland six years ago, you’d be looking at a very different garden; just lawn, concrete and ‘a few sad remnant camellias’. In fact, since our last visit to Jac’s garden three years ago, it has evolved significantly still.

‘The garden grows and there is a constant shifting and exploration with the plantings changing and transforming over time,’ she says. ‘We are consistently exploring new plants and combinations.’

Currently, the garden can be broken up into five distinctive blocks; the front garden has ‘an Australian perspective on a perennial border with airy flowers and textures through foliage,’ explains Jac. Through the side gate by the outdoor bath and potting shed you’ll find a space to relax in a courtyard framed by grapes, shaped olives, persimmons and structural succulents. The backyard opens up into a ‘recent dry dynamic matrix planting with drifts of local Podolepis jaceoides, flowering succulents and resilient treasures like Echinacea tennesseensis ‘Rocky Top’. Then there’s the perennial garden, with jewel colours, a chicken yard and a verdant green wall.

Finally, there’s the two nature strips outside the home, which were the happy result of ‘every other square metre being packed with plantings’, says Jac. It also offered the opportunity for Jac to share her approach to layered and dynamic planting for a dry summer climate as the area doesn’t receive any supplementary water.

The abundant nature strip has been well received by neighbours, who now plan their walking routes to go past the ‘garden house’.

Regular passers by will be attuned to the shifting of the garden throughout the seasons. As for what it will look like in four years time? We’ll watch eagerly to find out.

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