This private garden in Sydney is equal parts beauty, formality and power and makes all those who set eyes on it to secretly covet it for their own.
Modern landscaping trends today veer towards an arty and almost careless look that celebrates spontaneity. But every once in a while we are drawn to the master touches employed in a classic garden where form takes precedence and principles of colour and design are observed meticulously to impart a special kind of a beauty to a space; just like this formal garden in Sydney, Australia which has all our attention.
Situated in the suburb of Castle Hill, Sydney this garden is in fact an extension of an existing, established garden in a 5-acre property and once served as the horse arena for the estate’s residents. When this space turned redundant, the property owners invited Dean Herald, one of Australia’s premier landscape designers as well as the Managing Director of Rolling Stone Landscapes to blend the space in with their existing garden.
Among the prerequisites laid down by the family was the request for the presence of some equestrian reference in the new layout which would, in keeping with the existing garden, be a formal design.
Working within the guidelines of a symmetrical grid, Dean introduced a three-tiered water feature in the centre of the garden and crowned it with a life-size bronze stallion. No ordinary equestrian element is this; the stallion is in fact an imposing feature, his head and forelegs rear high and his body is all taut, just ready to charge ahead. The effect is striking to say the least and strongly references the presence of wealth and power in the surroundings.
Dean reveals that the stallion was designed and fabricated in great detail after an extensive consultation with an artist in China. He states, “Every stage was overseen from our end and amendments made as needed to achieve the best result.” The main struggle, he confesses, was deciding the direction towards which the stallion would point, as a vantage view of it was desired from several different angles. Cascading down from the stallion are bubblers and spouts that nonchalantly feed four rills which divide the garden into symmetrical sections.
Here the attention is drawn to a 70 metre long feature arbour entwined with ornamental grape. “The planting enhances the arbour especially in autumn when the foliage turns deep red before dropping off and in summer it provides shelter from the sun”, explains Dean. The romantic quotient of this pathway cannot be overly emphasised and we can only surmise what love might blossom under the trailing vines.
At one end of the garden is a ‘Juliet’ balcony from where visitors can enjoy a truly picturesque view of the garden and its varied plant palette. “From this location,” the designers wax lyrical, “an avenue of ornamental pears frame a view of the stallion and the water feature below.”
The water feature, arbour and other design features are well complemented by plants that have been carefully selected for their colour, texture and shape. The landscapers have put their brush to plant palette, judiciously choosing colour and texture to create patches of harmony or contrast as the need may be. Dean explains, “The plants give definition to the allocated symmetrical spaces and provide the form that contributes to the formal theme.”
More depth and visual interest is created by using trees, shrubs and ground covers of differing sizes. “The way in which these have been designed to be maintained also contributes to these layers”, adds Dean. As seasons change, the garden gets a natural makeover ensuring that the estate’s occupants never tire of the scenery.
One of the obvious reasons for the fading interest in traditional gardens today is the high-maintenance cost, with manicured lawns topping the list. In this garden, no expense has been spared to ensure that the lawns are a lush carpet of green at all times, adding substantially to the effect of grandeur.
“The formal and European style of the garden was a fresh return to the classic roots of garden design and provided an opportunity to create something special for generations to come”, says Dean of this landscaping project. Classics, as they say, never really go out of fashion.
Text By Christabelle Athaide
Photographs Courtesy Rolling Stone Landscapes