Excavated courtyard garden

Last year we did a design for a series of courtyards surrounding this Mosman home, and this particular garden is below street level and faces West. The soil is non existent, the builders had excavated into sandstone and we asked that a great lump of stone be left where it lay and the surrounding stone was sawn and cleaved away. The owner was keen to include some natural elements in the garden, so we had the stone carved to create a shallow bird bath and thee stone will grey off in time and grow moss if it ever rains again. The birds love to bath in this, it’s a cool addition and will only get better over time.

It’s one of those things that is unexpected, it will most likely never happen that we come across an occasion to do this again. It’s called happenstance.

PS Thought I should add a picture of the what was to be courtyard space and the `rock’ when we started work.




Chondropetalum tectorum (small Cape rush)



Panicum `Heavy Metal’ and pomegranates

February 12, 2014 | 1 Comment  | Tags:

Summer flowers

With my computer down, and in for repairs I’ve been unable to use any images.

The dry continues, and some rain would be really appreciated anytime please. There’s been overnight drizzles but I’m looking forward to the embarrassing gurgling noise in the drainpipes outside the bedroom, which really let us know when it’s raining.

Some brave flowers have appeared, like the Crinum outside the studio and the ginger lilies with their exotic scent that fills a room if you pick them – and that’s just what I do to stop the birds transporting the seeds that form after the flowers are spent. This particular ginger can be a bit of a weed in bushland areas, but it would be hard to live without it. Something to look forward to at the end of summer.


Crinum moorei

Crinum moorei


Hedychium gardnerianum

Hedychium gardnerianum


February 11, 2014 | Leave a Comment  |

A new design in the bush

This morning we start our first new project for the year. Benjamin White from White + Dickson Architects is building a new home on the coast on a bush site with caves, rock outcrops and amazing views.

Designed in modernist style it will be quite a climb to the front door – but when you get there, it’ll be worth it.

On a site like this, we’ll be treating the native vegetation lightly, or just leaving it pretty much as it is, naturally. Why would you garden if you had Angophoras and grass trees like these?















January 9, 2014 | 1 Comment  | Tags:

Early January 2014

A day and a weekend to go (who’s counting) and we start back at work.

On drizzly Christmas day I rediscovered the joys of my wife Cathy’s butterfly chairs (see the link in Categories) positioned on the verandah where I can overlook the garden and pool. There is an abundance to the summer garden that could be overwhelming if you let it be so. I take it a bit at a time. The weeds slow down soon enough so I enjoy the heat of summer, try to forget the chores that await me and relax.


Cathy’s Butterfly chair (covers `Cremorne stripe’)




Agapanthus `Black Panther’ and Canna `Constitution’

In the orchard – and throughout the garden, the Cannas are loving the heat. As dusk approaches I have been walking (a glass in one hand) with Robbie and Alison who are staying a while over the holidays , looking at what we could plant in their new garden in Durban, South Africa.

The fragrance at that time is strong on most things. The night scented tobacco caught us by surprise the other evening.



Canna `Tropicana’ and Nicotiana sylvestris – night scented tobacco




Canna `Stuttgart’




Eucomis comosa (pineapple lily)




Hymenocallis littoralis

January 3, 2014 | 3 Comments  | Tags:

Pomegranates and the orchard

Down in the orchard the new growth is abundant, there’s an exuberance  to summer that makes you feel good to be alive.

The pumpkins and zucchini are flowering, the mysterious creatures continue to eat almost every other vegetable or salad leaf I plant. I suspect it’s possums and hope that they’ll go away. The pomegranates hang heavy, clunking me in the head when I mow the lawn. There are more lilies to bloom, sunflowers and daylilies next. The blue of the agapanthus is sublime.




Macleaya cordata and an unusual Agapanthus given to me by a friend.




December 29, 2013 | 2 Comments  |

Lazy days by the pool

I love the long summer days after Christmas when I can sit on the verandah, read a book, or wander around the garden making mental notes of jobs I may never do. The fridge is slowly emptying it’s stock of leftovers and the belt that holds up my shorts is increasing in length.

Yesterday I attached the giant metal ants Cathy gave me on Christmas day to the old camphor laurel next to the petanque pitch, repaired a broken water pipe and had an afternoon nap – a siesta, before afternoon drinks. I could adopt this habit.

A lot of time is being spent around – or in the swimming pool. The sweet fruit scents of gardenia, bai lan and angel’s trumpet hang in the air. With arms on the hot pavers, my body in the water, I was admiring the grassy seed heads of the grasses and the drier looking silver foliage on the Kalanchoe hildebrandtii and potted Agave. This look is something I admire in Provencale gardens, where cactus add their lazy, easy care attributes to summer.



Crinum pedunculatum





Agave americana

December 29, 2013 | Leave a Comment  |

The cellar # 1

And now I’m going to bore you senseless with the cellar. It will be like the pond and fountain – last years project. I have wanted to store my wine properly for years and yesterday Steve started by clearing for the concrete slab, and today I worked with Mark and Dad pulling out roots and levelling the ground in preparation for Fridays concrete pour.

I fell in the pond hauling a wheelbarrow over plank, my boots got very wet.

So this is the first picture. Not much to look but just wait and you’ll see.

This is where a 30 year old macadamia tree fell last Christmas Eve exposing us to the house – and barking dogs next door. The apple tree (dead sticks in the image below) has been so badly damaged by possums that eat every leaf and bud it produces is ready to cut down, so it’s a win, win situation. I get my wine, and we all benefit from the privacy.



December 17, 2013 | Leave a Comment  | Tags:

Lilies masquerading as lanterns

Throughout my garden the lilies abound. No sooner one finishes flowering, than another begins. I know it’s unfashionable to garden, well that is what you’d think.

Everyone wants a low maintenance garden, but I enjoy the time I spend in mine, I’m busy, have plenty of work, my mobile is always ringing and I’ve not much time, but I believe that the rewards outweigh the labour, and stupid me, I like a bit of work in the garden. Tying in lilies isn’t too much effort. When did a boring, low maintenance lilly pilly hedge give this much reward?

You reap what you sow.


Lilium leichtlinii

Lilium leichtlinii

December 17, 2013 | Leave a Comment  |

Some extra planting


This morning I met with Andrew from Cornerstone at Fernbank to deliver some extra plants to fill in spaces below the pond where the soil has proved to be a problem.

Sometimes it’s wet – other times dry.

The structure of this garden is developing now, and it has only been three or four years since we started. Not that Meg the owner hadn’t already made inroads before we arrived, but the garden is transformed. The lotus pond is a great success and the blooms are just extraordinary. This morning you could tell it was going to be a warm one, and the mist was drifting across the pond as we promenaded around the grounds. In this garden we are looking for big, easy going shrubs that have seasonal colour and fill a lot of space to minimise maintenance.













December 17, 2013 | Leave a Comment  | Tags:

New Swimming Pool


Two of our favourite contractors – Cornerstone Landscaping and Mateeba Pools have combined forces on this slick smaller space at North Avoca.

It’s a deceptively easy thing to simplify, and this is what we did on with this design. Working with the levels, rather than against them will prove to be what makes this pool sensational, and fun for the lucky kids that will be soon be swimming in it. I can’t wait to see the stone that will be applied to the concrete block walls, new deck, water in the pool, the fences and plants. Watch this space.






Gray blog screenshot

December 12, 2013 | Leave a Comment  | Tags: ,

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