Hidden Design Festival in April

Yesterday I called in to Pamela’s Turramurra garden to see if everything is on track for the upcoming Hidden Design Festival  and I had nothing to be concerned about.

This is a beautiful, very personal garden we designed some years ago, tended carefully by its owner and the Verduous Gardens team. If you haven’t already done so, better book your tickets now as they are limited.

To whet your appetite, I’ve included a few images that have been taken over a few years in the same season as it will be viewed next month.





Brugmansia x insignus





Anemone x hupehensis `Honerine Jobert’



Punica granatum `Gracilllissima’

March 8, 2014 | Leave a Comment  | Tags:

Rare African bulbs

With a few wet days the garden has revived. Some plants don’t mind if they never receive a drop – and this is how it is with the blood lily Haemanthus coccineus native to South Africa, where it receives little water over the summer months.

I grow mine in pots which date back to the 1940’s and as well as the flowers, I grow these for their curious leaves that appear soon after the flowers are spent, and there are just two of them to each bulb, and they are like enormous tongues which hang over the edges of the pots.

Haemanthus coccineus

Haemanthus coccineus

March 2, 2014 | Leave a Comment  |

By the Hawkesbury River

Late last week we made a start on a greg new site on the Hawkesbury River. Essentially a bush block it sits on the hillside above a marina. Steep sites are always a challenge and this will be no different. A symphony of steps and level landings.

The house itself has sensational views (it wasn’t just Mark’s face I was trying to capture on the first image)

There is a very cool studio half way up built using beautiful recycled doors and windows, and at the top with the best outlook is the owner’s sons treehouse.

With some amazing rock formations and indigenous flora it will be a case of touch the earth slightly…














March 2, 2014 | Leave a Comment  |

Cellar #3

This week the cellar walls went up, this Zego block goes up fast, you can see how good`Keeper’ is at helping. Now it’s time to have them core-filled with concrete and then the roof can go on

I can almost taste the shiraz…

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 7.32.42 AM

February 22, 2014 | Leave a Comment  |

Hidden Festival of Outdoor Design


Looking for something to do – do you like visiting gardens? My friend Catherine Stewart asked me if I had a garden on the North Shore that I could share on the 5th – 6th April. Autumn is beautiful weather to view gardens and in an instant I thought of Pamela’s garden in leafy Turramurra.

I design a lot of gardens, but this one is a beauty. Interesting plants, designed with traditional style in mind with some unexpected elements, but best of all it’s loved – and it shows.

Check out this garden it’s the one with Spring flowering tulips on my website and the gardens of many other designers showcased via this link http://hiddendesignfestival.com 




hidden logo high res



February 20, 2014 | Leave a Comment  | Tags:

A garden by the sea

This morning I headed down to Killcare to see a few old friends and their gardens and also to see two new sites. On the way, between stops I had a few moments so I called in at a garden I hadn’t seen since I delivered and placed plants there late last season.

I was asked for help last year by the new owner who was given my details by the previous people he purchased the home from. I enjoy seeing a garden’s progress – there are always a few things that need adjusting over the years, and it’s great to be given a second chance to make it better.

Andrew Noble’s `Cornerstone Landscaping’ team got the gig and have done a terrific job, bringing the old garden to a new level. They have worked with us to construct a new boundary fence of slender hardwood sticks to increase privacy and stop dogs wandering (this will weather to a soft grey colour) and we added to the existing plantings which were established five or six years ago I think, in addition they fertilised everything, pruned, snipped and trimmed and re-mulched.

In what seems to be a short time the place looks loved like it has never been loved before. Congratulations to the owners and the crew that have put in the hours.

With great views over Killcare, there are salt laden winds to consider, natives were used predominantly with some hardy exotics for interest. I have never designed, or used curving gabion walls before but after looking at these, that retain the level lawn area I’m keen to try them again.

Grey-green colours unite exotics and native plants and we have used lush green rainforest plants beneath the home, where after storms a creek runs…











February 18, 2014 | Leave a Comment  | Tags:

Cellar #2


The concrete slab went down Christmas eve, on one of the hottest days of the year, it’s now stripped of its formwork and awaiting the Zego blocks

The blocks are lightweight polystyrene foam that will work as great inflation, and the voids in the blocks are to be core-filled with concrete.

Stay tuned






Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 7.24.46 AM


February 13, 2014 | Leave a Comment  |

Stripping the Yuccas



When we get tired in the studio we take some time out and work in the garden. One of the nastiest, yet rewarding jobs is to strip the spent leaves from the Yuccca. This reveals their unique sculptural form and for around 3 weeks leaves a `collar’ of white wood from where the leaves are removed.

This isn’t a common technique, it’s one of those things that was learnt by chance one day when I was working in the garden, but it’s something we now do in most of our gardens where we use this particular Yucca.

The foliage is blue-green the flowers are a tower of white profiteroles – like a croquembouche. This species isn’t armed with the deadliest spines on the end of their leaves, but it still wouldn’t be nice to get one in the eye, so we do it with sunglasses on.

It’s things like this that makes our work different to other designers.



Yucca recurvifolia, Kalanchoe orioides and Banksia integrifolia `Roller Coaster’


Yucca recurvifolia, Agave vilmoriana (octopus agave), Banksia `Roller Coaster’ and mounds of Westringia `Milky Way’

February 12, 2014 | Leave a Comment  |

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  |

← Previous PageNext Page →