A Walk In The Park

Pas­sion and vi­sion in equal mea­sure have shaped this hand­some for­mal gar­den in Queensland’s Gold Coast hin­ter­land.

Australian House & Garden - - News - STORY El­iz­a­beth Wil­son | STYLING Tahn Scoon | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY John Downs

Glen­loch is a green gem be­hind the Gold Coast.

There’s a cer­tain magic about an av­enue of jacaran­das in full bloom. Just ask Caro­line and Rob Tolmie. The cou­ple pur­chased their home at Mount Tam­borine, in the hin­ter­land of Queensland’s Gold Coast, on their first in­spec­tion in 2003 af­ter fall­ing in love with the pur­ple-fringed drive­way. “The house needed work and the gar­den was lit­tle more than rough horse pad­docks,” says Caro­line. “But the jacaran­das were ma­ture and in flower – that sold it to us.”

In ad­di­tion to the pur­ple wel­come mat, the prop­erty had many other things go­ing for it. At just un­der 3ha (seven acres), the gently slop­ing site is nes­tled into pic­turesque hills and blessed with rich vol­canic soil. Lo­cated within the so-called ‘scenic rim’, it en­joys a more tem­per­ate cli­mate than the coast, with an an­nual rain­fall of 1.5m and four dis­tinct sea­sons.

Caro­line and Rob’s pre­vi­ous gar­den was a trop­i­cal gar­den on a sub­ur­ban block, so this prop­erty – which they named Glen­loch in hon­our of Rob’s Scot­tish her­itage – was on a scale out­side their ex­pe­ri­ence. Un­fazed, they drew up a plan to trans­form the site into cas­cad­ing ter­races. To vi­su­alise the lev­els, they placed long hoses around the prop­erty to rep­re­sent the shape and con­tour of the pro­posed re­tain­ing walls, then hired a land­scap­ing com­pany to grade the site and build the walls us­ing lo­cal stone. Next, the cou­ple fo­cused on plant­ing trees, opt­ing for de­cid­u­ous species be­cause of the mild cli­mate. “All our friends with beau­ti­ful gar­dens told us to plant trees as soon as we could to get them es­tab­lished. It’s the best ad­vice we ever re­ceived,” says Caro­line.

Four­teen years on, the gar­den boasts tow­er­ing rows and copses of Lon­don plane trees ( Pla­tanus x ac­er­i­fo­lia), weep­ing Ja­panese maples ( Acer pal­ma­tum dis­sec­tum), pin oaks ( Quer­cus palus­tris), mag­no­lias and Liri­o­den­drons. In the mid storey are hun­dreds of camel­lias, hy­drangeas, lilly pil­lies, aza­leas and ev­er­green mag­no­lias. At the cen­tre of the prop­erty is a vast for­mal gar­den that spreads over 2ha. “The whole cen­tral area is park-like, with swathes of lawn, large trees, ar­bours and walk­ing av­enues,” says Caro­line. “There’s a lot of lawn, which we love. It gives the gar­den breath­ing space and el­e­gance.”

The for­mal gar­den has 15 cas­cad­ing lev­els, linked by path­ways and steps. They loosely fan out from the house, and each has its own dis­tinct plant­ing scheme and fea­tures. Rows of trees and box or shrub hedg­ing help de­mar­cate the zones. Caro­line and Rob have also named dif­fer­ent sec­tions of the gar­den. On one side of the house is Rose Ter­race, on the other is the Cir­cu­lar Gar­den,

ABOVE A gold­fish pond with bronze foun­tain is the fo­cal point of the Se­cret Gar­den. The pond is brim­ming with colour­ful wa­terlilies and irises; a hedge of Pho­tinia ‘Red Robin’ en­closes the space. OP­PO­SITE, CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT Hy­drangea macro­phylla and a sweet-scented ‘White Dragon’ Christ­mas lily. Rob and Caro­line in their beloved park-like sur­round­ings. Seat­ing nooks – like this one in Big Tree Av­enue – are es­sen­tial, says Caro­line.

“It’s im­por­tant to have lots of places to rest and con­tem­plate a gar­den.” Kook­abur­ras are just one of many vis­it­ing bird species. Look­ing up at the home from the lower pond, fringed with Dick­so­nia antarc­tica ferns. Aza­leas and aga­pan­thus add to the lush lay­ers. Stone re­tain­ing walls frame the cas­cad­ing ter­races.

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