photographer and landscape designer, was born in Yorkshire, on 4 December 1896, second daughter of William and Margaret Walling. Her businessman father was disappointed that Edna was not a boy and (in contrast to her sister) treated her as if she was one anyway. She grew up at Bickleigh, near Plymouth, learning woodworking and exploring the Devonshire countryside with him. In 1911, aged fourteen, she moved to New Zealand with her family. Her father soon transferred to Melbourne and the rest of the family joined him in 1914. They settled at Arundel, in Commercial Road, South Yarra.

In 1916-17 Edna attended Burnley Horticultural College. After gaining her certificate and working as a jobbing gardener for a year, she began to get landscape designing jobs. An early client was Dame Nellie Melba. In 1921 Walling designed and built a rustic house for herself, called Sonning, on a three-acre block of farmland at Mooroolbark, east of Melbourne. After it was destroyed by fire in 1936, she redesigned, rebuilt and expanded it. She gradually converted eighteen acres adjacent to Sonning into Bickleigh Vale village.

Despite an unconventional lifestyle – she wore jodhpurs, jacket, shirt and tie, never married and lived in primitive style at Sonning with a group of friends/employees – Edna made a name for herself as a landscape gardener in the English tradition of Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson among wealthy Melbourne families, including Mrs Keith Murdoch (now Dame Elisabeth), Mrs Harold Darling, Sir Clive and Lady Steele and Sir William and Lady Irvine. Many clients owned large homesteads in the Western District of Victoria, the Riverina (NSW) and elsewhere. Some of her beautiful watercolours of proposed garden designs survive. She carried out many in conjunction with the builder Eric Hammond.

In 1926 Walling began writing regularly for Australian Home Beautiful . As well as many articles for a range of magazines and newspapers, she published four books illustrated with her own photographs, garden plans and drawings: Gardens in Australia (1943) – which went into several editions – Cottage and Garden in Australia (1947), A Gardener’s Log (1948) and The Australian Roadside (1952). She lived at Sonning until 1951 then shifted to The Barn on her nearby Bickleigh estate, partly because of the lack of privacy resulting from featuring her home in such detail in her 1947 book. In 1948 she acquired sixteen-acres at East Point, near Lorne on the Great Ocean Road, and built a cottage there; a late unpublished manuscript, 'The Happiest Days of My Life’, is about it.

Walling planned several villages yet few were realised. After moving in 1967 to Bendles at Buderim, Queensland to escape encroaching suburbia, she planned an Italian-style village but age prevented it proceeding beyond a few sketches. Here she was cared for by Mavis Morris while Lorna Fielden, a Bickleigh neighbour who had edited her books, came to live nearby. A devout Christian Scientist, Edna Walling died on 8 August 1973 regretting that she was unable to finish all her projects or begin new ones.


Kerr, Joan
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