Gardener Michael Morrison worked alongside the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at her home Cruden Farm for many years to create one of Australia's finest private gardens. His garden diaries reveal how the garden was developed and maintained, but it's also the story of a wonderful friendship - Dame Elisabeth and Michael Morrison worked together with great creativity, dedication and pleasure for four decades. Their energy, loyalty and selflessness will be inspirational to gardeners and non gardeners alike.
Cruden Farm was given to the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in 1928 as a wedding present from her husband Sir Keith Murdoch. The farm at Langwarrin, about 50 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, was a place she cherished throughout her long life. The beautiful garden she created there with gardener Michael Morrison is one of Australia’s finest.
In 1984 Michael began to keep garden diaries, a practice that endures to this day. He writes of the plants that have thrived and those they’ve lost, of terrible heat and freak storms, of escaped cows and memorable parties. The diaries recount the plans he and Dame Elisabeth hatched, the triumphs and tensions, the sheer fun of making a garden together.
In an age preoccupied with selfies and spotlight chasers, Michael Morrison’s diaries remind us of a different way of living – of more than forty years spent quietly but passionately dedicated to one special garden and its unique owner.
About the Author
Gardens are Michael Morrison’s passion. After horticulture studies and 10 years working with a local nursery, in 1971 he took on Sunday morning work for Dame Elisabeth, who had had little help in the large garden since making Cruden Farm her home after her husband’s death in 1952. His involvement is now all but fulltime. The partnership was significant; he and ‘the boss’ thought alike. Their regular circumnavigations of the garden in Dame Elisabeth’s electric buggy were times of great pleasure that inspired important decisions – immediate and longer-term – about design and planting, and kept them in touch with new developments.
Lisa Clausen was born in Toronto and grew up in Wellington, Christchurch, Sydney and Adelaide. She has worked as a print journalist in newsrooms across Australia and spent 11 years an award-winning writer covering the region for the South Pacific edition of TIME magazine. She now lives in Melbourne and writes for publications such as The Monthly magazine and Fairfax’s Good Weekend magazine. Her own garden is small but cherished. Cruden Farm Garden Diaries is her first book.