Host: We all love to take a peek at those large, impressive gardens, but often the art of landscape design is at its best in the smaller spaces. The award-winning garden we’re about to see takes a small space and transforms it into a garden to live in, entertain in, and to really enjoy, so come on in, and let’s go and take a look at this little gem. Anthea, this garden is stunning. You must be so proud of it.
Anthea: Yes. I love this garden. I loved it from the minute I started designing it, because I could see what I was going to do. I had all sorts of challenges with this enormous palm in front of us here.
Anthea: A single slope. There was no level change, and a concrete path just straight down the middle. The client needs access all the time straight to the back, so the path was important, but it didn’t have to be a straight concrete path.
Host: It certainly isn’t here. What I love that you’ve done is you’ve taken those garden beds and you’ve made an undulating path all the way to the end that gives you depth.
Anthea: Yeah. It’s really important to keep garden beds wide, and one of the two things I do. I widen steps and I widen garden beds always, in every design that I do, because it makes it easier to maintain a garden when you’ve got wider garden beds and the steps become seats. It’s just outdoor furniture.
Host: Oh, it is. It gives you that outdoor room that everybody’s wanting.
Anthea: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely, and it’s a subconscious use of the space. Once a step is there, or this seating wall. People go and sit there without even realizing they’re using the garden, and that’s what it’s all about.
Host: I can hear the passion in your conversation about this garden. Did the clients give you a big brief to work within, or was it just what you were thinking?
Anthea: The client was a repeat client, so she trusted my decisions on the previous garden, and she went with that again, since she trusted my decisions again. I knew that she was a very keen, although novice gardener, so I was happy to give her plants that she could look after, and learn about, without it being onerous. As far as the brief, it was extending the house and making it a usable space that it is now, where there is different places to sit and gather in the shade and the sun. The brief was pretty open. We also had to cater for the traffic, the movement from the house to the carport. That was really important. She does that every morning and every evening to and from work.
Host: When you’re selecting plants for a garden like this, you’ve got a lot of height changes. You’ve got some tall plants, but you go right down to the bottom. Is that careful planning in the style of plants that you’ve chosen?
Anthea: When you’re starting a garden like this, where I had these existing Pittosporums, and they were completely bare underneath, that kind of tells you where you’ve got to start. The client was very keen to keep the Pittosporums, so I had to work out what filled in underneath, so that we didn’t see these bare trunks. The other little trick that I do, and I’ve done it time and time again, is stain the fences. Don’t paint your fences. Stain them, charcoal grey, and it sets off the green.
Host: It does, doesn’t it?
Anthea: You’ve got the green against the black, and it’s fantastic. Any colour actually just stands out against it. That also makes the boundaries disappear, so we’ve then got that sort of textural pattern happening in front of a backdrop, a black backdrop.
Host: You’ve got the backdrop. You’ve got the depth in the boundary gardens, and the way it just undulates through and around this whole fire pit area, that’s just stunning.
Anthea: Yeah. The fire pit’s being used. The kids have all sort of hung around the fire pit. They’re all about six foot tall, so they just sort of sit on blocks of wood, and sit on those stools that are there, and other bits and pieces. Yes, no, it’s a multipurpose sort of garden, and when the fire pit’s not being used, it still looks good anyway.
Host: It does. It looks gorgeous.
Anthea: They could fill it and put plants in it if they wanted to.
Host: I love how it plays off the pavers.
Anthea: Yeah. These are most favourite pavers. It’s called porphyry stone, and it’s very, very dense stone, so you don’t have to seal it. It’s had red wine, barbecue fat spilled on it, and it just cleans off, no problem at all.
Host: No stain at all.
Anthea: No stain. No stain at all.
Anthea: It’s not sealed, and I absolutely love them because of that quality. Low maintenance. Clean them down once a year and it’s done.
Host: In this garden, which is a tight space, you’ve got a huge palm tree.
Anthea: Yeah. It’s enormous palm tree, and when I first saw the garden, the palm was very, very dominant. You could hardly get off the back deck without running into the palm, but on the other hand, it provides shade, so it’s really good on those hot, 40 degree summer days. You can sit under the palm and keep cool, so that’s why I put the timber seat around it, so that you can actually sit there, but there’s also room there now to put a table and chairs. They can have dinner on a hot afternoon, or hot evening, in that space there, so it’s a multi-seasonal garden.
Host: People really shouldn’t be scared of having a large element that’s already in their garden. If you work around it, it starts to work with you.
Anthea: Yes. Absolutely. We put the sleeper wall around it, and again, stained it, stained it dark so that it looked like it was meant to be, and nestled into the garden, and all of a sudden there’s a seat. You can just come out and sit on that, underneath the palm.
Host: I can’t tell you how much I love this garden, and I just want to say thank you so much for bringing us here today. I’ve really enjoyed it.
Anthea: That’s my pleasure.