House & Garden Australia. Plant focused landscape design.
Plant-focused landscape design for spaces that invite and delight
Media – House & Garden Australia.
Date May 2021
Author House & Garden Australia
Photography Natalie Hunfalvay
Words by Elizabeth Wilson
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Landscape design by Outdoor Establishments
When two daughters decided to create a special multigenerational home, the garden was an all-important part of the plan.
There is no underestimating the effect of a gorgeous garden. Spending time in a lush, cultivated landscape filled with scent, colour and favourite flowering plants – combined with family togetherness – does wonders for the soul. And that was the rationale for this glorious garden in Sydney’s north-west.
Setting the scene
The 4000-square-metre property is home to three generations of the one close-knit family. It’s an arrangement that evolved when two sisters decided to create a communal property that would accommodate both their families and their mother. Together, they built two new dwellings – joined by an internal walkway – creating a sprawling floor plan that gives everyone space and independence.
From the outset, the sisters wanted to create for their mother a beautiful garden to flow around and hug the homes. So, early in the construction phase, they enlisted landscape design company Outdoor Establishments to come up with a design for the vast 3200-square-metre gardenscape.
“They wanted every corner of the property to be incorporated into the design,” says Trystan Graham, co-director of Outdoor Establishments. “The main driver was that they wanted it to be a space that would encourage their mum outside, and give her enjoyment.” Trystan’s business partner, horticulturist and designer, Matt Hook, became the garden’s project manager. The key imperative was for the garden to be accessible, with no steps. This was always going to be a challenge considering the 5-metre fall across the block from street frontage to back corner, but Matt and Trystan’s design cleverly navigates and mitigates the effects of the sloping site. Using a combination of major earthworks and clever engineering, plus strategically placed ramps and timber decks, they have connected the levels and turned the garden into a series of user-friendly and inviting, plant-focused spaces that extend straight off the indoor living areas.
Since the garden needed to cater for the needs of three generations, the brief called for a range of different zones and destination points too. “The owners are part of a large family and they love hosting gatherings, so they wanted big entertaining areas and a firepit,” says Matt. “They also wanted plenty of open areas for the kids to play and roam, and breakout spaces for individuals and smaller groups to retreat to.” At the entrance to the property Matt designed a sweeping driveway, lined on one side with Indian Summer crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia ‘Natchez’) underplanted with salvia and prostrate rosemary.
“The portico at the entrance to the home informed the shape of the driveway which we designed as an in/out loop.” Inside and around this ‘loop’ are large areas of level lawn and sinuous garden beds filled with layered and textural foliage plants. Along the front fence is a row of magnolia (Magnolia ‘Teddy Bear’) underplanted with Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis‘Snow Maiden’); at the entry gates are wide beds combining agave species, blue chalksticks and Rhaphiolepis ‘Oriental Pearl’. Near the front portico, jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) forms an undulating groundcover, dotted with buxus balls and ornamental pear trees (Pyrus calleryana ‘Capital’).