SUMMER 23/24

FOOD AND FLORA IN A COASTAL GARDEN
Imagine you lived in one of the most scenic parts of the Central Coast and wanted to establish your garden on a wedge-shaped triangular parcel of land.

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That’s what faced owner David Templeman and his wife who started with a wish list that covered their favourite plants, features and desired elements. To turn this wish list into a coherent garden space, they called in landscape specialist, Adam McCall of Adam’s Garden. David and his wife had a number of specifications including low maintenance, bird attracting, native plants, and fruit and food producing. As usual, the consultation procedure enabled them to list the things they liked. 

‘The whole process was very organic. I told him I like gabions and wanted a food garden and he came back with a plan. I thought Adam had the right approach and we were able to change and modify as we discussed it more,’ said David. 

This ability to change and evolve is a characteristic of Adam’s design ethos. ‘A lot of our landscapes evolve. We’ll play with what’s there and build on it and change the design to suit the client. ‘Our style is sort of rustic, native, edible. We love all the elements of timber and stone and natural products. We’ll use natural materials that will age well and develop a patina as they age. We use concrete, steel and other materials but most designs are rooted in the natural elements. We are all about pairing great outdoor areas with practical edible gardens.’ 

That is certainly evident here. This particular plot had a few limitations and challenges. First and foremost, the block was triangular and was situated on a bend in the road which meant the yard tapered to a sharp angle at its lowest point. Secondly, a new house had been built around 2000, replacing the original weekender. This took up quite a large footprint on a relatively small 750-square-metre block. The upper storeys of the house afford views of the ocean and headlands around Broken Bay but at the lower level, hemmed in by neighbouring properties, the view had to be created. 

THE PRACTICAL ELEMENTS 

The front garden is a north-facing sun trap, and this was where the owner wanted to grow edibles: fruit, herbs and vegetables. From this simple need, the design evolved to include low terraces and sleeper edged beds for vegetables and herbs plus a pergola with a table grape, a prolific producer, growing over it. On the boundaries, passionfruit and pomegranate love the warmth of the sun. Lavender, rosemary, thyme and an edging of zoysia, a carpeting groundcover spill over the edges. The owner’s collection of steel garden art is dotted through the whole garden. In the front, an imposing owl takes pride of place.

CHALKSTICKS AND GREVILLEAS BLEND DELIGHTFULLY WITH SILVERY EMU BUSH AND THE GREENS OF GYMEA LILIES AND LEMON.

THE COASTAL TRIANGLE 

At the rear of the house, the triangular space posed a few problems due to the pointy pizza-wedge shape. The solution was to plant shrubby lilly pillies and grevilleas to mask the boundary and direct attention by means of a sinuously-curved path leading to a fire pit at the pointy end. Using the same natural materials of stone and timber, an inviting spot and focal point evolved. A gabion seating bench and a couple of hardwood sleeper seats are now a highlight of the garden. The path is decomposed granite, a very natural material that is easier to walk on than gravel and is neutral in colour. It is contained by rusted Corten steel garden edging. 

The planting here takes its cues from the nearby national park – grass trees, kangaroo paws, lomandra, mauve-flowered emu bush (Eremophila nivea) and native violet, interspersed with exotic chalksticks (Senecio serpens), a blue-green succulent that snakes across the ground between New Zealand flax and Indian hawthorn ‘Oriental Pearl’. The neighbour’s eucalypt and bottlebrush are happily encouraged to weep over the fence and add to the foliage fanfare. This tricky unloved space has transformed into a symphony of greens, blues, greys and silver tones to which are added subtle touches of floral brilliance. In the centre of the bed, a sculptural ‘pencil’ made from pier timber by Henrik Topolnicki, an artist based in Dargan in the Blue Mountains, takes pride of place. 

This garden is a calm and peaceful space made so by the use of natural materials that give it a sense of place and belonging, combined with a subtle blending of foliage colour and form. Even the path lights are attached to upturned sleepers to enhance the naturalness of the design. 

THE FRONT SUNTRAP IS IDEAL FOR HERBS AND VEGGIES.

Design by Adam’s Garden, adamsgarden.com.au phone 0450 550 494 

WORDS PAUL URQUHART. PHOTOS LISA HAYMES.

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