The garden so beautiful, it made a veteran landscaper cry
Three of ‘s leading landscape designers give us a sneak peek at their different, and abundantly beautiful, botanical masterpieces.
They may differ in style, but inside each of these gardens is a sanctuary full of creativity, fragrance and careful composition. Their talented makers take us for a stroll. Pirramimma by Michael Bates
Having worked on more than 1000 gardens, it is still possible to make Michael Bates cry. “After completion, I was moved to tears by the beauty,” he says. “It is a piece of paradise.”
Pirramimma garden created by Michael Bates Landscaping. Photo: Jason Busch Pirramimma is in the Blue Mountains and sits on 4.8 hectares of land. “The garden was established over 30 years ago by local nurseryman John Gaibor and actor Reg Livermore,” Bates says.
An arboretum of sorts, Bates was asked to recraft it into a pleasure ground to accommodate the client’s growing art collection.
Collaborating with master landscaper Craig Burton and architect Peter Stutchbury, an overarching design was rolled out. “The Blue Mountains is a hill station community,” he says. “This history was the framework for our contemporary garden.”
Michael Bates was asked to recraft the garden into a pleasure ground to accommodate the client’s growing art collection. Photo: Jason Busch
Bates began his reimagination of the property by using what was already there. He then provided structure, retained bigger assets such as the lake, and moved some of the trees. “We transplanted them into a site nursery, and later relocated them,” he says. Related: Don’t overlook the outdoor area of your homeRelated: Inside an architect’s ‘treehouse’ homeRelated: What to ask yourself before starting a garden
The garden is profuse with maples, rhododendron and azaleas. Bates wove his magic around new art as it arrived on site. “The owner was procuring sculptures throughout the process that we worked into the design,” he says. “It was an enriching experience.”
The view from the house down onto the lake is glorious. “If there was a way to bottle and drink peace, this would be it,” he says. South Yarra by Paul Bangay
“It was the space and architecture that excited me most about this project,” landscape designer Paul Bangay says. “The house was designed by a close friend, the late John Coote. Our collaborative process was hugely satisfying.”
Paul Bangay describes the garden he created as an “oasis in an inner-city suburb”.Photo: Simon Griffiths
With a love of large country gardens, the idea of a similarly styled garden in South Yarra was exciting. “It is very much an oasis in an inner-city suburb,” he says.
Bangay was handed the luxury of a blank canvas – a newly built classical house and treeless garden. “The brief evolved as the architecture of the building developed,” he says. “The garden had to wrap around the building occupying all the vacant space. The site lines emerged from the interior of the house and became critical to the garden’s development.”
Trees were planted to screen for privacy. “A large pleached hedge of ficus trees screen the flats adjacent,” he says. “The only other trees are a pair of Magnolia grandiflora next to the front fence to provide privacy from the street.” ???
Paul Bangay was handed a blank canvas – a newly built classical house and treeless garden.Photo: Simon Griffiths
The garden consists of three main rooms – the first, a large lawn running parallel to the side of the house with a vast pond in a deep garden bed. The second, an adjacent garden space with a swimming pool, framed with two pavilions set amidst beds of creamy scented gardenia.
The third is a vast fragrant rose garden. “The client’s favourite,” Bangay says. “The high surrounding walls are draped with climbing roses, and its central focal point is a large obelisk dripping in wisteria and climbing roses. It is my favourite spot for its perfume and abundance of colour and flowers.” Point Piper by Myles Baldwin
Myles Baldwin likes a challenge. Such was the property at Point Piper. “The brief was initially to fix the pool,” he says. “This led to designing a poolside entertaining space, direct access from the living quarters of the house, and a garden overhaul.”
Myles Baldwin likes a challenge and that’s exactly what the Point Piper property was. Photo: Justin Alexander
Set on Sydney Harbour, the house, says Baldwin, was in great nick but the garden a crumbling mess.
“We wanted to create a beautifully detailed subtropic resort garden suitable for family life with older teenage kids,” he says.
Replanting much of the property, Baldwin chose phoenix palms, crassula, and philodendron for the street front garden. Harbourside, he planted new specimen washingtonia palms, pandanus and big-leafed foliage and viburnum.
Although the house was in great condition, the garden was initially a crumbling mess. Photo: Justin Alexander
The house features a palm-filled central courtyard garden similar to a glass wall-lined atrium. “It needed a new understory, so we added more low-light appropriate species in a contemporary block planting layout,” Baldwin says. “In the sun lounging area, a shaded sunken lounge and barbecue were added for pool and harbourside entertaining.”
Competing for beauty with Sydney Harbour is never easy. “We have changed what was essentially a very insular house into a place where living can be conducted outdoors,” he says. “Hopefully I’ve enhanced the experience for anyone that sees the harbour from this property.”