Local Escapes

Bliss Out At Heide Museum’s Sublime Healing Garden Set To Open This Year

By Ellen Walker
1st Jun 2020

The beautiful gardens surrounded by gumtrees at Heide museum.

Set on six hectares of riverfront land, Heide Museum of Modern Art stands as one of Australia’s most significant cultural institutions. The Museum has become a hub for Australian modernist art and writing after it was purchased by art patrons John and Sunday Reed in 1934.

Inspired Sunday’s profound love for her garden, the art museum is working with landscape architecture studio Openwork to create the Healing Garden. With recent events changing our outlook, our societies love for the outdoors is at an all-time high. The creators have drawn on the curative properties of plants and our mutual appreciation for nature as powerful tools for connecting communities, reducing social isolation and providing positive, life-affirming experiences.

Heide Artistic Director Lesley Harding said, “For Sunday Reed, gardening went hand-in-hand with art, poetry, cooking, love and life. Her garden was a creative outlet and a place of respite and rejuvenation. Like Sunday, the Heide team today recognise that gardens and nature can help improve people’s wellbeing and restore a sense of equilibrium, something that will be particularly important in the coming months.”

With its grand opening scheduled for later in the year, the garden will present a circular design, drawing on the concept of proxemics and considering the boundary between personal and public space. Special care had been taken to position the garden in the most wheelchair-accessible location on-site so that the space can be enjoyed by everyone.

The design incorporates six distinct clusters which will be a series of nooks forged from existing spaces and transformed into social areas, including seating made from leftover limestone from Heide Modern. Openwork Senior Landscape Architect Elizabeth Herbert explained that “by creating small, intimate areas through different planting styles, strategic seating placement and sensory activities, the garden’s design invites visitors to pause, occupy the space around them and ultimately own their experience.”

Upon entry to the garden, your senses will be greeted by various scented openings to mark the transition from space to space using fragrant plants, including some of Reed's original roses. As you move through two food-based gardens: a Sensory Kitchen Garden and a Bush Tucker Garden, you'll be drawn in with edible plants that activate the sense of taste. 

Entering into the maze-like area, you'll find a Haptic Play Garden with a water feature, this space is designed for younger visitors who may be on the autism spectrum. Next, The Meadow,  which is the largest of the clusters, will appear wild and rambunctious to the naked eye, but the curated planting style represents seasonal change and immersive experience. Finally, The Wild Garden is a response to the climbing roses that characterise the wall and creates a space that is carefully maintained to appear wild.

See what else is happening around Melbourne at our Things To Do section.

Image credit: supplied

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