A Walk In The Park
Passion and vision in equal measure have shaped this handsome formal garden in Queensland’s Gold Coast hinterland.
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.