Yesterday I called in to see the progress on an acreage project where Steve and the Shakkei team have almost laid all the hand chipped Endicott, now it’s time for them to begin the arduous task of grouting the spaces between the stones. This job has been staged and last time I was out there I was delivering and placing plants – and these new plants have all grown so well it’s hard to discern new plantings from old. One of the most noticeable transformations came when a group of crepe myrtle were transplanted from a position close to the drive to a new location near the master bedroom where the plants would be happier and the summer blooms could be enjoyed. It’s great to be able to relocate trees to a spot where they’ll be happier and better appreciated. We’re happy to recycle.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.