The Constant Gardener: Perri Cutten’s coastal garden

Fashion designer Perri Cutten’s sense of style and beauty is reflected in her classically proportioned Mornington Peninsula garden, a true labour of love.

The garden, a linear sequence of nine ‘rooms’, proportioned around the golden ratio and each planted in memory of a special person and place, was cajoled out of a paddock of clay over a 10-year period by both Cutten and her partner, photographer Jo Daniell.

Bordered by a 100-metre length of weather-purged pergola – sentry lines of old pier posts supporting rusted steel girder – and mediated by an elegant strip of irrigation channel, the rooms prompt the question of whose portrait each set of plantings represents. “Well, this belongs to Maggie Tabberer,” Cutten says of a space drenched in the heady scent of rose. “She once stayed and gave us the flower that had been named in her honour. It is fabulous, white, and never stops giving – just like her.”

The neighbouring room, a reminder of Cutten’s mum, is a swaying sea of sword-like foliage – Dierama pulcherrimum or angels’ fishing rods – from which white bells pop in the third week of November, the occasion of her mother’s birthday. More vertically expressive is the cypress-guarded patch for Daniell’s mother, painter Yvonne Atkinson, aka ‘Ginger’ – a soft, soulful spread of white Carpentaria californica (bush anemones), Elaeocarpus reticulatus (blueberry ash) and euphorbia, under-planted with forget-me-nots and rosemary.

“It’s a cliché, but when you make a garden you are never really making it for yourself”, says Daniell. “It’s a lot of work, but that’s what we like to do,” says Cutten, qualifying that beauty in a garment or a garden, is a by-product of the real business of planning, designing, costing, excercising vision and then just digging deep. “Gardens put you back in sync with the seasons.”‘


This is an edited excerpt from “The Constant Gardener” a story by Annemarie Kiely. For the full story, with more lavish photographs, see page 193 of Vogue Living Nov/Dec 2011.

Text: Annemarie Kiely
Photographer: Marcel Aucar

3 Responses to “The Constant Gardener: Perri Cutten’s coastal garden”
  1. Its beautiful. I wish I had the time to create something like this. I’m always changing the inside and the garden gets left behind. This has inspired me to make a start. Thank you for that.

  2. Len Willson says:

    wow just amazing, the use of recycled material gives such definition and a feeling of easy living ,

  3. Jeanette cutten (cousin) says:

    Wonderful garden. Does Sue still work with you in the garden?

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