michael cooke’s open garden

It’s that time of year again when Michael Cooke, of Michael Cooke Garden Design, opens up the the gates to his central coast property Hawthorne Stud for the public to visit. Full of hidden areas, the garden twists and turns and takes you each time to a place more beautiful than the next. With a natural pond, jetty, stables, outdoor rooms, a swimming pool and the most stunning planting this open weekend is not to be missed! Swing by: 77 George Downes Drive, Central Mangrove 12th & 13th November from 10am.

Hawthorne Stud Hawthorne StudHawthorne Stud Invitation

interview with matt leacy

Matt Leacy from ‘Land Art Landscapes‘ will be our first Spring expert appearing in the Brookvale showroom this Saturday, so make sure you’ve put aside some time to come in and say hi!

Here’s a little bit from the man himself…

Describe your style. My style is quite eclectic and varies depending on both the client and the site. Each site is always different and poses different challenges and opportunities; likewise, each client has a different style sensibility so my approach for each garden is pretty unique. I like to understand what inspires my clients and then start with a fresh blank page and create something just for them.

What inspires you? Landscapes that are designed with longevity in mind; gardens should get better with age. Perfect form and structure complemented by the art of soft plantings. For me, the building and landscape should sit comfortably in unison, one should not compete with the other.

Your favourite outdoor space? My mother in lawʼs mountain garden and any national park with a beach.

One tip for people as they head into Spring Now is the time to get started on your outdoor space! If you start developing your garden or renovating your outdoor space now, youʼll be ready in time to enjoy it during the warmer months when youʼll use it most. Now is also the time to mulch your garden and prepare it for the drier months. The mulch will help to retain moisture and keep the soil cool. It will also assist in combating the weeds or at the very least, make them easier to remove. Spring is also the time to fertilise most plants in your garden, so feed them up as the growing season kicks in and youʼll get you maximum growth during springtime.

interview with matt cantwell

Matt Cantwell from ‘Secret Gardens of Sydney‘ is another expert who will be appearing in store this Spring, so read on and start thinking of some questions you can throw his way…

Describe your style. Sydney is an eclectic city with a range of architectural styles and personalities; so as a garden designer, flexibility and an ability to adapt to different styles is key. I like to focus on the right proportions and ensure that a good footprint and the right balance between the variety of requirements in a garden have been addressed. Itʼs then simply a case of using the right materials (be it flooring, walling, plants, sculpture, pots or furniture) to complete the picture and deliver the desired look.

What inspires you? People inspire me. It could be my clients or simply the general observation of the way people live and interact with their surrounding environment. Be it inner city, suburbia or further afield, there is so much to live, breath and take on board. Keeping an open mind is essential for any good designer. Of course I am always inspired by nature. Itʼs very hard to top some of the beauty created by mother nature, but we can certainly work with it.

Your favourite outdoor space? Having traveled extensively, I love city parks like Central Park in New York. For many it is their backyard, so to see people simply being outside and enjoying the outdoors can entertain me for hours. Throwing frisbees, having picnics, taking a break from work or teaching a child to ride a bike, itʼs wonderful to see people enjoying these public open spaces. Often being outside like this makes people feel good but they donʼt necessarily think about what is drawing them to these areas. As cities grow and become more populated, thereʼs a real focus on this aspect of design and how it encourages good health and peace of mind.

One tip for people as they head into Spring. Look outside the back door, do you want to spend time out there? If so, get organized and get your outdoor space into shape. We have an enviable climate and lifestyle here so make the most of it! Call a professional and get some advice. You may do it yourself from there or you may be in the position to get the job done for you, either way just get it right so that you want to spend time outside at home. Whether itʼs somewhere to eat meals, entertain family or friends, or just get your partner outside in the fresh air! Youʼll be amazed at how spending relaxing time outdoors can provide balance to your life.

Matt will be appearing in our Waterloo showroom on the 3rd of September between 10-12pm, so make sure you come in and meet him!

interview with sharon harris

As one of our experts appearing in-store,  Sharon Harris from ‘Harris Parnell Garden Design’ was kind enough to take a few moments recently and answer a few questions for us…

Describe your style. My style varies as our motto is ʻCreating Individual Gardensʼ. We donʼt really have any one particular style and pride ourselves on planting a garden that suits our client, the house and the micro-climate of the site. Many of our gardens combine both formal and informal aspects; we often incorporate vegetable gardens, and sometimes perennials and grasses depending on the site. However a good base structure in the garden (generally created by plants) is a fundamental part of our designs – I love to use plants with bold colour, hence my soft spot for perennials, but plant form and texture is also key, so we give consideration to multi-seasonal plants as well. We are known for using a good balance of soft and hard landscaping, itʼs one of the aspects of our design that appeals to clients.

What inspires you? A garden space that speaks to the soul; where all the elements in the garden are in balance. By this I mean that no one aspect of the garden stands out, but rather all the elements work together to create a space that welcomes and envelopes
you. A space that is as peaceful as it is beautiful. No matter what challenges we face as garden designers, this is the kind of designed space I always strive for.

Your favourite outdoor space? The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne; itʼs truly a beautiful space in the middle of the city, an oasis and an inspiration.

One tip for people as they head into Spring. Celebrate colour. To add colour into your garden you donʼt need to add more than one or two plants to brighten the space.
If you have areas of your garden that arenʼt working, donʼt be afraid to use colour. It doesnʼt even have to be through planting, it could be outdoor fabrics, a bold sculpture or even just a cushion.

Make sure you get down to our Richmond showroom this Saturday the 3rd of September between 10-12pm, so you too can ask Sharon about any questions you might have regarding your outdoor space.

eccentric and playful

Friedensreich Hundertwasser - www.hundertwasser-friedensreich.com

I thought I would give the late, ‘eccentric and playful Viennese artist’ and architect ‘Friedensreich Hundertwasser’ a quick plug.

From what I can gather he was an outspoken individual that worked across a variety of design mediums, writing manifestos, designing posters and stamps and traveling to places such as Morroco, Tunisia, Nepal, Tokyo and Siberia for inspiration for his projects.

He rejected rationalism, straight lines and functional architecture and embraced the use of colour and irregular forms, with his sense of adventure being evident in his designs.

He was active in the late 1960′s, early 70′s ecological movement and was ‘committed to making life liveable in a humane environment that was close to nature’. His projects providing him with the opportunity to act as what he called an “architecture doctor”.

‘It was Hundertwasser’s goal to reshape austere buildings by introducing irregular structures and vegetation in a harmonious fashion’ and it’s hard not too feel a sense of excitement when you look at these designs.

I especially enjoyed finding this quote from him …

If man walks in nature’s midst, then he is nature’s guest and must learn to behave as a well-brought-up guest.”

the ol’garden shed

www.etsy.com - Colourful Garden Shed magnet

Whether it be a place you store a few of those rusty gardening tools, your workshop retreat or a forever growing storage area, I’m sure we can all agree our humble little backyard dwellings leave much to be desired.

But don’t be disheartened, there are many ways to improve this outdoor space!  How about a bit of colour, maybe some plants of the edible kind ? … a few good outdoor furniture pieces that could turn your space into an extra room??…….the list goes on.

There’s no doubt a garden shed can be both stylish and practical, however it just might take a little more time and effort to get it up to scratch.

Check out the images below for some inspiration, peep over your neighbour’s fence for an idea or seek some handy advice from a landscaper/designer in your area and lets ‘embrace the emerging modern lifestyle of smaller but smarter spaces’.

unity, function, simplicity and scale

Donnell Garden - The deck with oaks - By Cara Ruppert - Flickr

I have recently begun reading a great book on the late Thomas Church called ‘Gardens are for People’, first published in 1955. Thomas Church in my eyes is one of the leading Landscape Architects of the past 100 years. He studied at both Berkley and Harvard University and later in the 1930′s started up his own practice in San Francisco, retiring later then in 1977.

In 1937 he designed the ‘Donnell Garden’ in Sonoma, (…and by this I’m not referring to the great artisan Bread most of us are familiar with, but the ‘County’ in California )……that indeed was a cheeky plug for our neighbour on Danks St.

This garden is a Modernist icon and one of the best preserved examples of its time, take a look here for yourself. Its really hard to believe that this garden was designed 74 years ago and still remains true to his style of simplicity and elegance.

I was first introduced to his work while studying Garden Design in the UK and this is where I discovered his timeless appeal. Or maybe it was my love of the Kidney Shaped Pools!
Church was the instigator of the ‘New Modern Movement’ which later became known as the ‘Californian Style’. Thus the outdoor room is not a new development, its been one of Church’s trademarks throughout his designs in the Californian way of life, not dissimilar to the Aussie way of life.
His basic principles were Unity, Function, Simplicity and Style, apply this to any design process and I think you’ll be a step or 4 in the right direction.

a Swiss woodie

Tree Museum by Enzo Enea- Photography by Martin Rütschi ©

An open-air tree museum located on 10ha of land near Lake Zurich has just opened it doors. This open-air museum is the brainchild of well know Landscape Architect ‘Enzo Enea’ and showcases an array of trees he has collected over the past 17 years.

I personally love to stroll around the MCA or the Art gallery of NSW on a lazy Sunday afternoon, so put a museum outside on the shores of the beautiful Lake Zurich….a few amazing 100 year old maples…. chestnuts.. and I’m there! I also grew up with the notion of planting a tree to mark certain milestones in life such as a birth, marriage or death and love the subtle significance they offer in history. It’s great to see them getting the respect they deserve.

What makes this museum a truly special place, is the fact that the trees being exhibited were destined to be cut down to make room for development’s in the inner cities. One of these being a 150 year old Horse chestnut tree that was a centre meeting point in a Swiss town during World War 1 and 2. It still has the pins in the bark!

Enzo Enea has designed over 600 gardens in his time, with some very prestigious clients such as Prince Charles, Tina Turner and the Queen of Bahrain and has achieved this with a well respected practice employing 150 staff in Zurich. Click here to view his website for more info…

Or click here to check out some more images of the Tree Museum courtesy of Landezine.

new urban solutions

David Boyle's 'Imagined Landscape'

After reading Claudia Perren’s review on the Home – Real and Ideal exhibition in Architecture Australia, I jumped online to the Boutwell Draper Gallery to see the participating nineteen Architects and nineteen Artists and their take on the brief –‘Urban Solutions’.

With a variety of inspiring futuristic structures and some really conceptual models, I started to think about the questions in which Claudia brought up in her review and just what my vision would have been had I participated in this exhibition ……

Below are some questions that made me ponder…

How do we want to live in the future?

What should be changed?

Where can we make compromises?

How does the city of tomorrow appear?

Which conventions should be questioned?

And the best one…

Why is the house situated in unspoiled nature still our ideal?? When THE CAR is part of living culture and Australia’s urban population is about 92% with four million inhabitants in Sydney.

Whilst it’s a complex issue it’s definitely food for thought…

Click here to view the images of the Exhibition.

L-A-V-A- Ideal Home

an exterior illusion

original_0e6f46c8fad9ee813a459cc0715d62c8Deformscape” is a recent project from Thom Faulders, founder of  Faulders Studio, an architecture company from the US. The project is in fact an interesting outdoor pattern that was created in order to bring something fresh to a house in San Francisco. We quote from the designer’s website: “This limited space outdoor sculpture garden inherits a large tree, and uses this sole arboreal presence to establish a gravitational pattern of grooves that are focused towards the tree’s centroid. To generate the resultant pattern, a 3-dimensional bulge is formed around the tree, and its distorted wire-grid projected onto a 2-dimensional surface.

Taking into account appearance effects created by perspective views from inside, the resultant planar surface appears sink around the tree.”  If this project were implemented inside, it would probably not rise so much interest, However,  as it had to deal with opportunities existing in the environment,  the idea behind is is a creative and original one. What do you think?

Check out the site yourself here