Edna Walling to be celebrated at site of her greatest achievement

Mawarra Garden in Sherbrooke. Picture: SUPPLIED.

By Parker McKenzie

A play celebrating acclaimed landscape designer Edna Walling will be performed in a heritage listed garden she designed in the 1920s.

The production will take place at Mawarra Manor in Sherbrooke, which was built in 1925. The garden designed by Ms Walling was completed in 1932.

Playwright Dr Tee O’Neill – whose PHD is in biographical theatre -wrote the play to celebrate the life of Edna Walling.

Ms O’Neill said the play became a reality after she met the owner of the garden at an event at the property.

“There was an open day at Mawarra gardens a few years ago and I told him about my PHD,” she said.

“Edna was very close to my heart and being able to celebrate such a strong woman in the garden she designed will be special.”

The play will be presented in the garden of Mawarra, which Ms Walling described as her greatest achievement and a “symphony of steps and beautiful trees”, with participants moving to follow the performance throughout the Manor’s grounds.

Ms O’Neill will play Ms Walling in the production, which is directed by her long-time collaborator Karen Burger PHD.

“I think what people will find when they come to Mallawa garden is that you’ll feel Edna,” Ms O’Neill said.

“There really is a piece of her in the garden and I hope people attending will feel like she is there in person.”

Ms Walling was known for her garden design, conservation, writing and photography. She was a highly sought after for landscaping and garden design commissions and completed works throughout Australia.

Ms Walling passed away 1973 and is considered one of Australia’s most influential landscape designers.

Producer Alan Jager said as owner of the property since 2010 he is excited to invite people to experience the garden and the play.

“Mawarra has a history of theatrical production going back to the 1950s,” he said.

“There are photos of ballerinas performing on the tennis court.”

Mawarra Manor was added to the Victorian heritage register in 2012 because of its historical, aesthetic, botanical and architectural significance.

Mr Jager said the play has been performed once before, six years ago for 40 guests.

“With theatre going into a recess of sorts during the pandemic we haven’t had the opportunity to put the play on again,” he said.

“Mawarra is an important property and I’ve been working to preserve and restore it.”

The show is presented with assistance from Burrinja Cultural Centre in Upwey.

The play will be performed on January 29 and 30 with two shows on each day, at 10am until 12.30pm and 1am until 3.30pm.

Tickets and more information can be found at www.trybooking.com/events/landing?eid=848825&