Explore a beautiful country garden
A BEWITCHING GARDEN NESTLED INTO THE NSW SOUTH COAST HINTERLAND HAS SPACES TO ENJOY EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR
THE GARDEN OF JAN AND ROD’S NSW SOUTH COAST HOME looks so entirely at one with the lovely 1850s weatherboard cottage that sits within it that you could be forgiven for thinking its structure and form were of a similar vintage. Details such as the horseshoe-shaped lawns; wide, luxuriant garden beds; neatly clipped box edging deep herbaceous borders; and giant Illawarra figs that date from well before the land around them was cleared for farming, all conspire to lend the verdant expanses an air of venerability, reinforcing that first impression.
Yet much of the garden – save for the figs, a couple of stately Norfolk pines and a smattering of remnant perennials – is decades younger, planted only when Jan and Rod moved to the area from the Central Coast, back in 2002. “It was quite a bit different to this,” remembers Jan. “There were a lot of roses, and we didn’t really have an orchard. We’ve changed all the beds around the house, and put a lot of topiaries in.”
The couple asked gardener Michael Cooke to help redesign their new surrounds, bringing him on board soon after their move. “We thought we would get the garden established before we did any renovations to the house,” says Jan, who has since added an extension to the cottage. >
Horseshoe-shaped lawns were a traditional feature of older homesteads, and so are perfect for Jan and Rod’s 19th-century abode (above). Deep beds play host to viburnum, ornamental pomegranate and dierama. “There are quite a few salvias, just to fill and add colour,” says Jan.
making an entrance
“I like formality and order, so Michael designed these topiary mounds as an entry to the old house,” explains Jan. Two varieties of box are teamed with silvery teucrium and an old-fashioned rondeletia (left). “It has masses of pink flowers in spring,” adds Jan. One of two ancient camellias adds to the colour scheme on the right, while beyond, a grapevine winds its way sinuously over a new pergola.
A small timber breakfast table provides one of many places to sit and enjoy the home’s spectacular views of the surrounding farmland. A linen cushion from Incy Interiors and a ‘Coarse’ linen cushion from Zara Home up the comfort factor, while a linen throw from Città Design is on hand should the day turn chilly.
Rather than a traditionally loose, whimsical style, the areas have a defined structure. “I’m not really a lover of cottage gardens, so we have formality with a little bit of ‘cottage-y garden’ between,” Jan says. It’s a mix that works perfectly in this striking space. Neat lines of box and clipped mounds of hardy westringia and teucrium are juxtaposed with free-form perennials such as rosemary, sage and dierama – otherwise known, rather romantically, as ‘fairy fishing rods’. Traditional favourites include roses and pomegranate, which, says Jan, is typical of the era of the house, as is artemisia, which has been trained into delicate, silvery spheres. “After it rains you just prune it slightly and it’s just like a cloud,” she adds. Although verdant hues from mint through to emerald dominate, there are colour splashes provided by sweeps of salvia and lavender, and a bright show courtesy of a pair of ancient camellia trees. “These camellias have been here since the house, so they’re well over 100 years old,” Jan says. “One is a white and one is a pink, and they’re lovely when the flowers fall down.” Tucked into a fold of rolling hills below an escarpment, the house and garden are somewhat sheltered from the area’s famous southerly winds and even stronger westerlies, but some buffer planting was a necessity. “We really had to think about it,” Jan says. “A lot of soft plants wouldn’t survive when that westerly wind comes through.” The challenge was to provide protection without compromising the home’s stunning country and coastal views. A cherry laurel hedge, kept neatly trimmed by Rod who has become something of a topiary whizz, proves up to the task to the south, while a long length of elaeagnus does the job to the west. Whatever the prevailing wind, however, this garden provides numerous spots to enjoy its myriad shades of green and intermingled fragrance of citrus, mock orange and rose, whether it’s taking morning tea on the verandah or enjoying the peace and quiet of the shady courtyard by the kitchen door. A garden to be enjoyed in all seasons.
A swathe of panicum and miscanthus grasses snakes through the garden (top left), leading to an orchard stocked with Tahitian lime, navel orange, Eureka lemon, apples and persimmon.
The gable end of the house (left), painted in Porters’ Paints Putty, forms the backdrop to a large sculpture. “We went to the Berry garden show, and there was a lovely man there who was making all these sort of things,” Jan says. “We’ve had it for a number of years now.”
in the pink
The ‘Sarah Van Fleet’ rugosa rose glows richly pink (above left). “They’re just gorgeous, but boy, they’re prickly!” says Jan. Deep purple salvia (above right) adds colour in the garden.
“It’s a garden made for moving around, depending on the weather or the sun or the wind” ~ Jan