You could be the most enthusiastic gardener in the world and still need help when it comes to devising the perfect layout for a backyard. The owners of this house and garden in Hunters Hill, who have avid green thumbs themselves, decided it was time for an overhaul of their beloved family garden after more than a decade and a half, so they called in the professionals: landscape architect Hugh Burnett and builders Ballast Landscape.
‘My involvement as designer was to address the challenging parts of an otherwise successful garden,’ says Hugh. ‘Credit for the planting and ‘bones’ of the garden is with the home owner and her mother, who have planted and nurtured the garden prior to my involvement.’
With the personality of the garden already established, Hugh set about creating a framework to support it. He devised a clean layout for the backyard, that would connect the various utility zones (barbeque area, cricket lawn, pool) with the areas reserved for ornamental botanicals.
‘We added an informal path of hand-shaped, open sandstone flagging that extended the gardens and allowed it to “bleed” into the lawn, avoiding a harsh and contrived edge that would awkwardly divide the garden,’ Hugh explains, noting the exquisite craftsmanship by Ballast Landscape in hand-making the sandstone pavers.
The existing planting style of the front garden was soft and organic, neatly in tune with the climate and locale. Working closely with the homeowners, Hugh made a point of retaining this character, adding native shrubs and grasses, robust perennials, succulents, and native ground covers to the mix. This created a dry garden which would survive the heat from the west-facing vantage without irrigation.
The rear garden, however, could afford to be a little juicier. An established crepe myrtle tree set the tone for the planting palette, to which Hugh added a variety of perennials like arums and hellebores to create a generous, bountiful scene. Boston ivy completes this symphony of textures as it coats the fence-line and softens the timber boundary.
Despite the many functions the garden had to facilitate (not to mention the existing plants which had been tended to for decades!) the resulting space is a harmonious haven. Hugh says it best himself, ‘The garden is a true reflection of the warm and inviting nature of the homeowners and their family.’