Inside Out (Australia)
point of view
Catering to two very active kids, this already-established garden with a sense of old-world charm is reworked to become a functional family space
Try to imagine a typical family-friendly garden: there’s a pool, sun and a lawn, but nothing very interesting. This is not that garden. Instead, this subtropical haven in Terrigal, on the Central Coast of New South Wales, combines old-world charm with contemporary additions for a result that’s both hugely practical and gorgeous. “It’s a very usable garden with areas that aren’t cut off from each other, or from the view,” says Jaimie Woodcock, who shares the home with his wife Aimee, and their kids, Macauley, 9; and Leila, 3.
Mostly, Jaimie and Aimee wanted practical spaces for their children to play outside, but they were also keen to exploit the views and preserve the captivating feel that drew them to the property. The plan included a high-quality cricket-pitch-sized lawn and a swimming pool, and shaping old plants into interesting forms to open up views and provide privacy.
They engaged Michael Cooke for the landscape design. Having worked with Michael before, they knew he was more than capable of arranging this garden the way they wanted. The couple trusted both his expertise with the existing plants and his talent and vision to allow the garden to evolve.
First was the pool, a significant addition, the unorthodox shape of which results from sloping land and a tricky corner. A drop down in the level around the pool yields a lower lounge area, with both levels paved using Eco Outdoor ‘Bolzano’ sandstone tiles. The crazy paving suits the unusual retro-shaped pool and extends to the house, where the downstairs area opens onto it. What was once a sloping grass patch has now become two connected spaces where this family spends most of their time.
We wanted a durable, low-maintenance garden with spaces where we could relax with friends JAIMIE WOODCOCK, HOMEOWNER
Michael then designed an expansive lawn as a dynamic area for playing cricket and practising putting. “We have very active kids,” says Jaimie. “Macauley, especially, loves all sports, so we really wanted to be able to enjoy that in the garden.” They chose ‘Santa Ana’ couch turf for that golf-green look and feel.
The glass pool fence provides a connection between these areas and the people using them. The planting between the areas is kept low to enable a sense of flow, and includes clipped balls of Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Oriental Pearl’. The curves of the balls and garden edging echo the random paving shapes.
These shapely curves repeat around the garden, creating structure without rigidity. A pre-existing camellia is reshaped into an alluring cloud-shape and the lawn has a sinuous garden-edged border. More paving and a sandstone wall, built from convict stone, speak to the classic component of the space. The curves create a relaxed look, avoiding straight, formal lines.
Away from the backyard, there are other practical spaces. The clothes-drying area has ample space for fun to be had among the household chores. There’s a trampoline and courtyard nearby, with easy access all around. “One of the things we love is that you can walk around the house on all four sides,” says Jaimie. “We wanted the kids to be able to wander and explore all around the house outside.”
Much of the garden’s allure comes from the established plants and trees. Some of these were blocking views, so Michael thinned and reshaped them to reveal the ocean. While this
Michael did a fantastic job of working with the brief we gave him JAIMIE WOODCOCK, HOMEOWNER