Steve Bridge has started work on another great country garden. This one will be constructed in stages, and here is the first picture he sent earlier this week. Steps and walls have started, and next is the pond.



Walls and steps



August 27, 2013 | Leave a Comment  | Tags:

Velvet Buds

This week Spring has really struck, the magnolias are looking at their best, and buds are unfurling on the english oak outside the studio door, on the pomegranates in the orchard and even on the fig cuttings I took today as I made a last ditch attempt at completing the pruning before it’s all over for another Winter.

The velvet buds on the magnolia are irresistible to touch. This morning the pointed caps were being pushed aside to make room for the extravagance of the petals. They have a light fragrance and I love them so…



Magnolia `Athene’



Magnolia `Athene’



Full blown Magnolia `Iolanthe’

August 27, 2013 | Leave a Comment  |


Last week I called in to see a a friend that we have created a garden previously for, that has now moved homes. Imagine the fragrance in this garden with all these freesia studding the lawn. Was it forethought 50 years ago or a serendipitous event I wonder?

Whatever it was, I’m looking forward to working here, with the old home and garden – a perfect marriage.

I’m sure Jocelyn planned my visit to coincide with their flowering and I appreciate the thought.



IMG_0124 - Version 2

August 27, 2013 | Leave a Comment  |

Pruning as garden sculpture




Last week Luke, James and Wade from the Cornerstone crew helped me out with the last of the winter pruning. This season I’ve been blessed to have had the assistance of these guys and Johnno from Verduous Gardens.

I love seeing result of this combined horticultural experience, and admire the skeletal sculptural forms of these trees  as we say goodbye to winter and welcome in the spring.

As more and more people look for low maintenance gardens – and believe me, I’m over the work outside in the garden this year – I very much admire and appreciate the tradition and skill that good gardening involves.

This year we wont be opening the garden in November as we usually do – electing instead to get on with some projects here at home like the new cellar!



Bare branches of Erythrina crista-gallii against the mounding form of Olea africana and Aloe ferox



Morus alba `Pendula’ with all but the last season’s wood removed to reveal superb branch structure.



Ulmus glabra `Horizontalis’ pleached now for almost twenty winters.



A row of Robinia pseudoacacia `Umbrellifera’ along the dressage arena looking wonderful.

August 19, 2013 | Leave a Comment  | Tags:

Back on line

After a few blog glitches I’m free to add more pics and blab some more. It’s all systems go in the studio as Spring approaches and we’re as busy as we can handle with some sensational projects now on the board.

Outside the garden is finally under control. Rob from Verduous gardens has generously lent me a hand with the unstoppable Johno for a few days, and today Mark and I spent some time outside to help complete the orchard pruning. Figs, English mulberry and Japanese plum tree cut hard as were the old fashioned roses, so it’s going to be a wonderful lead into Spring.

The magnolias are looking sensational all around the garden with colour appearing on the buds, but close by overhanging a low wall under an old banksia tree, the crucifix orchids are flowering again. These extraordinary orchids are so easy and I’m loving the subtle colour variations.


Epidendron `Topaz'

Epidendron `Topaz’

Epilaelia `Topaz Seduction' x Epidendron flexuosum seedling

Epilaelia `Topaz Seduction’ x Epidendron flexuosum seedling



August 5, 2013 | Leave a Comment  |

Orange Twist

I think that’s the end of the gardening here at home for a while. This week the phone is running hot, and Spring isn’t all that far away (hopefully not too close, `cause if I’m not show-jumping anymore I’m going skiing)

This morning Mark and I met the owners of a beautiful citrus orchard not far from the studio to measure up and discuss `where to from here’

The home is well underway and we’re working looking forward to working with Ben and Andrew from White + Dickson Architects again. The local bluestone looks a treat, and we love how the black painted timber works with the rest of the details.

The home is set amongst the orange trees with views down to the valley I hope to improve on and two beautiful spring-fed ponds.









July 10, 2013 | Leave a Comment  | Tags:

Down in the Valley

Steve and Cameron have been hard at it, slopping their way through mud to get to where they are down in the valley. I love the brick steps and the path laid in stacked bond, and the off-form concrete steppers have been poured at last.

I’m a fan of galvanised steel edging and here’s a picture of the funky line that delineates lawn and garden bed below the swimming pool.

So easy to maintain, and once we have designed a bed this shape we know it wont be lost by an overzealous spade.





steel edging

July 5, 2013 | Leave a Comment  | Tags:

Winter Colour

The Aloes come into their own each Winter. Today I was surprised by the rapidly emerging buds of a potted Aloe ferox near the back door and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this, backed by an Aloe arborescens beyond.

Michael Dent from Queensland has the nursery by the catchy name of `Aloe Aloe’ and he sent down a few of his spectacular new introductions for me to trial. This one A. `Sparkler’ looks like a beauty for people who are less inclined to go for the flowers in hot hues.



Aloe ferox in bud (foreground) Aloe arborescens behind



Aloe `Sparkler’

June 30, 2013 | Leave a Comment  |

Wet Winter Weekend

Cold and wet, but it is Winter, so no real complaints. This is the time of year when I feel I can get on top of things and under control. I’ve spent a few hours planting a hundred or so English box that I dug last weekend from a friend’s garden who didn’t like the winter bronzing they took on in her frosty climate.

They look great here in a lumpy, gnarled sort of line besides the studio beneath the Banksia where they are slightly incongruous – well I like them.

It’s drizzly now, so I’m inside getting warm and dry in the studio before heading out again to gather pumpkins in the vegetable garden.

This big garden is a lot of work sometimes, but at times like this when I really appreciate the horticultural menagerie when small things make such a powerful impression.







Chaenomeles sp



Agave x occahui `Blue Glow’ with Miscanthus sinensis `Hiawatha’



Miscanthus sinensis `Zebrinus’ and Cycas taiwaniensis below the bunya bunya

June 30, 2013 | 2 Comments  |

It’s got to be pink

For years and years I’ve wanted a pink Nerine. Preferably, just like the ones that grow at `Nooroo’, Mt Wilson.

About four years ago I met Alan and Elsie who were disbanding their garden full of rare plants at Erina and I asked him if there were any pink Nerine amongst his treasures, and he said no only white. I got lots of beauties that day and I’m looking forward to this one opening, `cause it’s not white!

The winter garden makes you appreciate simple beauties. The winter honeysuckle perfume is so strong I can smell it at 30 paces. Daphne is in bud (the lemon scented white as well as the more often seen pink)

The snowflakes are flowering, oak leaves are the last to fall.

Bringing split timber inside might be tiresome – but it’s so good to have the house warm – and the smell of woodsmoke when I walk outside makes me glad to be alive.



June 27, 2013 | Leave a Comment  |

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