Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Kurrajong Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Kurrajong Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Kurrajong Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Kurrajong Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Kurrajong Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Kurrajong Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Kurrajong Arthur Lathouris Landscape and Garden Designer /Kurrajong

Kurrajong Garden (Grose Vale)

Nestled in the rolling green foothills of the Blue Mountains near Kurrajong, on the north-western outskirts of Sydney, lies a delightfully quirky and creative garden. If you're privileged to drive down the unassuming driveway beware you don't end up in the dam as the garden bursts into view. That's what nearly happened to me when I first drove into the property. The owner had engaged me to design the planting to finish off his landscaping construction.

I'm not a bad driver but the sight of numerous boulder-supported terraces running down to a dam and a couple of rusty old trucks perched precariously on the edge was enough to make even the most mild-mannered garden designer blink in disbelief. Had I passed into another world? No, or maybe yes. I'd entered the magical realm of Michael and Donna.

With a garden wedding only a few weeks away my brief was to soften and titillate, to adorn and decorate, to sizzle and scintillate. Not an easy task in such a short time but one that had to be achieved if I was to satisfy Michael's confidence in me and add the finishing touches to his incredible creation. Michael designed the landscaping and was involved in all aspects of the construction on this very difficult, steep site.

The garden consists of the boulder terraces, a sizeable dam with a large timber deck pontoon and an impressive set of sandstone slab steps leading down to the lawn and dam. The old trucks add the finishing touches with one of them gushing water from its' radiator into the watercourse while the other looks like it was just saved from tumbling headlong into the dam after careening wildly down the slope.

A roughly-to-scale plan provided me with a starting point, however the usual technique of meticulously selecting and positioning plants on a plan was not an option in this case. Instead, I broadly sketched in ideas for the types of plants I wished to use in the various spaces. A trip to the nursery refined my ideas and the final plant selection and quantities resulted from what was available on the day. There was no time to order in anything different.

On a blisteringly-hot, western Sydney day with Michael and Donna's extended family and friends ready and keen to plant, I set about placing the plants where I thought they'd grow and look best. I skillfully dodged machinery, power tools, mattocks and shovels as the steps and pontoon deck were still being constructed. There's never been another day like that one.

Plants consisted of a mix of native and exotic trees, shrubs, groundcovers and grasses. They had to be tough and basically drought tolerant as this area has unreliable rainfall and is extremely hot in summer.

The overall effect, while having a great range of flower colour and timing, also provides lovely contrasting foliage colour and textures. The grasses, in particular, help in unifying the broad range of plants while creating a softening of the mass of hard bulky materials.

Any landscape project will only succeed if several criteria are met. The design must be purposeful and practical as well as aesthetically pleasing. The construction must be well implemented and finally the maintenance must be consistent and thoughtfully carried out. In this regard Donna has allowed Michael's construction project and my planting design to come to fruition by taking on the ongoing maintenance task and learning how to look after the array of plants in their wonderful garden.

Some of the plants used in this garden include;

  • Groundcovers
    • Grevillea 'Royal Mantle'
    • Grevillea obtusifolia
    • Grevillea 'Bronze Rambler'
    • Myoporum parvifolium
    • Trachelospermum jasminoides
    • Convolvulus mauritanicus
    • Hibbertia scandens
  • Grasses and Strappy Leaves
    • Lomandra 'Tanika'
    • Lomandra 'Katrinus Deluxe'
    • Doryanthes excelsa
    • Phormium 'Chieftain'
    • Poa labillardiera
    • Calamagrostis acutifolia
    • Dianella - various;
    • Canna
    • Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum'
  • Trees
    • Tristaniopsis laurina
    • Waterhousia floribunda
    • Lagerstroemia 'Sioux'
    • Acer palmatum'Atropurpureum'
  • Shrubs
    • Echium fastuosum
    • Nandina domestica 'Gulf Stream'
    • Buxus microphylla var.japonica
    • Syzygium paniculatum 'Bush Christmas'
    • Raphiolepis 'Oriental Pearl'
    • Escallonia 'Pink Pixie'
    • Loropetalum 'China Doll'
    • Lavandula stoechas 'Avonview'
    • Acmena 'Allyn Magic'