LYNWOOD BASKS IN DIVERSITY
Graeme Greenhalgh gains inspiration from Australia as well as cities and gardens around the world
‘Ihave enthusiasms as I discover or rediscover individual plants: whole genera,” says landscaper Graeme Greenhalgh, of Tropic of Sydney. One of his favourite plant groups is the
Begonia, inspired by the begonia beds in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
Begonias feature at Lynwood, the garden he designed to complement a federation house on Sydney’s upper north shore.
Greenhalgh also loves the flora of Sydney’s sandstone soils; Angophora, Xanthorrhoea and the coastal heath community. Native rosemary ( Westringia fruti
cosa) and Correa alba, which can be clipped into loose clouds in coastal gardens, also are favourites, along with the Gymea lily. With its huge head of deep crimson, velvety petals, held aloft on spears up to 4m long that erupt from the soil each spring, this striking “lily” was one of the few native species that early colonial settler Louisa Ann Meredith loved.
“That magnificent indigenous flower the gigantic lily ( Doryanthes excelsa) is often and easily cultivated in gardens, and well deserves a place in the stateliest,” she wrote in her Notes and Sketches of New South Wales, During a Residence in That Colony, published in London in 1844.
In the front garden at Lynwood swathes of grasses — Miscanthus x giganteus, M. sinensis ‘Gracilimus’ and
M s. ‘Zebrinus’ — bloom in summer before turning to caramel and silver in autumn and winter.
The federation colours of dark green and cream contrast dramatically with the lime green and orange theme throughout the garden. Also a feature in the front garden, the yellow-flowering popcorn senna ( Senna didymobotrya) flowers yellow with showy black buds. It would look striking with another favourite, the bat plant ( Tacca integrifolia), which I photographed in the Sri Lankan garden of acclaimed architect Geoffrey Bawa. Taros ( Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’) continue the black-and-gold theme.
Deep beds in the front garden contain the white flowering Salvia leucantha ‘Velour’ as well as the purple S. l. ‘Anthony Parker’. The Australian flax, Linum mar
ginale, and Chinese forget-me-not also flower blue in counterpoint to the chocolate and plum colours of cos-
mos, and the succulent Aeonium ‘Schwarzkopf’. Palms were popular when Lynwood was built in 1904, when travel to the Orient was popular. Towards the rear of the front garden a mature Canary Island date palm ( Phoenix canariensis) is encased in a low hedge of box,
Buxus microphylla var. japonica. Lady palms ( Rhapis excelsa) accompany firespike ( Odontonema strictum), needle flower ( Posoqueria long
iflora) and tree daisy ( Montanoa bipinnatifida) to create a privacy screen in a narrow bed beside the swimming pool.
In the rear garden the Chinese croton, with its crimson foliage, teams with Begonia ‘Crimson Velvet’ and ‘Sophie Cecile’ with its dark-patterned leaves and jostles with Begonia ‘Silver Sheen’.
Greenhalgh enjoys working on gardens of all dimensions. “The attention to detail, to proportions and to the story the garden tells: these things apply when working at any scale,” he says.
He gains inspiration from the Australian landscape as well as his travels to cities and gardens throughout the world, and, of course, from his clients.
Lynwood’s owners were influenced by childhood memories of rich, tangled gardens in the country and around Sydney