A Lilliputian World

This year we have produced half a dozen designs for Evergrow Group – a client who aims to, and is, building high end housing developments. We’re working with White + Dickson Architects and for each of these projects they have produced a scale model to help understand how things will look.

When we design we’re used to using our imagination and knowledge to guide us with the future landscape – to understand the architectural components to best create a desirable, liveable, saleable product, so but it was a pleasant surprise to find our landscape design transposed from drawings to Lilliputian trees, shrubs and hedges surrounding a multi – level building where we could gaze within the building through the windows and conversely look through the windows (from the other side of the model) to see the garden outside. In a world where 3D drawings are accessible on a computer screen to most architects including White + Dickson, it’s nice to see something hand made.

Unlike most developments we see, with this one we’ve been encouraged to create bespoke gardens that compliment each individual residence – as opposed to lifeless, commercial mono cultures devoid of soul.



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Down at the pond

Down at the pond the iris are in full swing – flowering their little heads off. These English bog iris Iris Pseudocorus are so prolific because when my son was just a little boy I used to take his tiny hand and walk around the waters edge and he would grab a handful of dry seeds from a clump at the far end of the walk and hurl them into the water and the seed floated and germinated on the waters edge.

Their growth covers most of the embankment now and they’re beloved by waterbirds as protection. Up on here on the `mountain’ we are nowhere near a natural water course or I would have concerns with them spreading outside their allocated space.


October 15, 2014 | Leave a Comment  |

Cellar #5

It’s almost ready for wine!

The stone on the walls (Clancy from Eco Outdoors) is partly grouted, the Il Fanale lights (from Gardens at Night) outside the copper door are mounted and glowing and Cathy brought home a sensational copper door handle this week as a present for me, so all in all things are looking like we’re almost there. I’ve finished the painting, the last of the recycled hardwood fencing rails are fixed to the internal wall and stone flagging is finished (thanks Steve from Shakkei Landscaping)                                                                                                                                                      Wine racks inside are next and I can start stocking the shelves…


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Spring blossom

A bit of rain and sunshine and it looks as if we are out of the gloom and into Spring properly. T shirt on now for days in the studio and outside – where I haven’t been spreading poultry manure, the garden definitely smells like Spring. Standouts are the Viburnum x burkwoodii with it’s waxy blooms outside the bedrooms and the above the swimming pool the crab apple is buzzing with bees.





October 3, 2014 | Leave a Comment  |

Two plants for dry places

By the pool doesn’t sound like a very dry place, but I don’t want to be watering here too often and it gets almost full sun all day. The Aloe lutescens gives me lots of pleasure – I like its particular shade of green, and I love its red buds that age as they open to yellow at this time of year, and the honey eating birds that visit appreciate it too. Closer to the house we have a huge camphor laurel tree and the dense canopy casts deep shade and the leaves allow little water to penetrate the garden below. This is where I planted a mass of a smallish bromeliad with soft green leaves a few years ago called Aechmea gamasepala which flowers particularly well in early Spring but also spot blooms all year. The Eastern spine-bills love the nectar they drip. They were a bit pale last summer and as an experiment I emptied a bag of fresh chicken manure around them and into the cups which retain the water which nourishes them. That they responded so favourably was a fluke, but now I’ve fed all the brooms with chicken manure and they’re all thriving – their colour depth increasing considerably.



Aloe lutescens


Aechmea gamasepala

Aechmea gamasepala

September 18, 2014 | Leave a Comment  |

How is a man meant to work on a Spring day like this?


Magnolia `Iolanthe’



Rosmarinus `Irene’ and Phillyrea angustifolia next to the swimming pool




How am I expected to do any work today – the garden looks so amazing and things are growing at rapid vegetable speed.

Who wants to be inside?

September 18, 2014 | Leave a Comment  |

Recycling and reinventing

Sometimes you get lucky, but not often. Some time ago I had one of the landscape contractors tell me they had a pile of clay pavers left over and did I want them or they would be sent to the dump (you know the ugly cheap kind I mean)

So I played around with laying them skinny side up instead of flat the way they were intended and found that they looked amazing this way – like I saw in Renaissance towns in Italy years ago, and we have been using them in this way ever since.

This image was sent to us by Dan from Divine landscape Creations earlier this week of a section of paving he is laying at the end of a Camellia tunnel where we designed a pond, fountain and petanque pitch and I’m so pleased with how they look I’m sharing it.

This is what the concrete pavers come up looking like when they’re reinvented. Wow.



September 10, 2014 | 1 Comment  | Tags:

Awards night #3

And this garden won Best Regional garden in the Open value section and is on the North Coast near Newcastle.

The garden was designed to compliment an original Petit and Sevitt home and has two distinct personalities – it depends if you are in the front or back of the house. Streetside the garden has a vaguely Japanese influence, whilst out the back overlooking a park to the North the planting is more lush and tropical. Congratulations again Adam.


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Agave `Blue Glow’


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Hedychium greenei


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An existing Murraya hedge was cut into `ice cubes’


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silver Kalanchoe hildebrandtii


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the shimmering Kalanchoe hildebrandtii and bold-leafed Alocasia brisbanensis

September 9, 2014 | Leave a Comment  | Tags:

Awards night #2

And this is the flip side of the preceding garden where salt winds are intense but the views over the Pacific are to die for.

gabion outback


view through downstairs room


split lawn and gabion


coten step detail


Corten retaining wall


fence detail

A custom made fence using Australian hardwood and copper mesh ensures nobody gets too close to the cliff edge

September 8, 2014 | Leave a Comment  | Tags: ,

Awards night #1

On Friday night Cathy and I went to the NLA Awards night at Centennial Park (Thanks for inviting us Adam and Danielle) where we were really proud to share Nature’s Vision Landscapes win – receiving the accolades they deserve for two of the gardens we designed and they implemented. It’s always a great moment to see a garden completed; whereas we can `see’ it in our mind to see it actually constructed is another thing entirely.

This garden is at Copacabana Beach on the NSW Central Coast and it’s a very cool house and garden. Once owned by friends it has now been sold to new owners whom I hope are enjoying it as much as we do, because it’s a favourite of ours. This won the 2014 Residential Category and was awarded the Graham Ross Residential Construction of the Year 2014

Front steps

Off-form concrete steps lead to the front door


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The owners encouraged us to think outside the box and we responded accordingly. Drought and salt resistant plants make up the majority of species with Australian natives sprinkled though the mix


Steps and Aloes

Aloe barbarae in the foreground withKalanchoe beharensis at thew top of the stairs


gabion and filetti

Gabion cages filled with stones contrast with porphyry filleti from Eco Outdoors


Outdoor shower

A custom timber screen offers privacy to the outdoor bathroom


Salvia Santa Barbara

Salvia Santa Barbara packs a colour punch and looks wonderful backlit with Miscanthus `Hiawatha’


black house and miscanthus

Miscanthus Hiawatha and young  fig trees to be espaliered

footbath rosemary and miscanthus

A blade wall of corten steel provides a backdrop to one of the owner’s travel finds – an antique marble sink we used as a footbath.


footbath and Tanika

The footpath and blade wall with a background of Aloe barbarae and Lomandra Tanika



September 8, 2014 | Leave a Comment  | Tags: ,

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