Saturday, June 15, 2024
Colourful and contrasting foliage provides colour and interest in a shady garden
Landscape

Gold standard

By Lynne Testoni

Maintenance of this award-winning garden has been a labour of love for the landscapers involved.

It takes a lot of work to maintain a beautiful garden full of mature plants and lush greenery, especially when there are tricky access issues involved. Looking after this spectacular garden in the Sydney suburb of Mosman involved a long-term commitment from the Reflective Gardens maintenance team.

With many site constraints, including natural underground springs, this west-facing garden had access only through very steep old sandstone stairs, which meant that the team had to bring in all materials by hand.

Reflective Gardens spent a full day on site every week for the first six months of the company taking on maintenance of the garden, with a crew of four as they cleaned up and tidied each section. Despite access being restricted to the steep staircase, the team added new bricks, turf, edging and thousands of plants.

The front garden has a cottage-style feel, including a water feature and plantings of annuals and camellias
The front garden has a cottage-style feel, including a water feature and plantings of annuals and camellias

Winning work

However, all the hard work paid off. Beautifully conceived and expertly executed, the lush result won the Glazed Co Landscaper of the Year – Residential Maintenance of the Year category, at the Landscape Association’s 2023 Landscape Excellence Awards.

The judges commended the team for their management of such a broad plant selection, and immaculate presentation, calling it a “testament to skilled horticultural practices” with “fantastic, rich, diverse garden spaces”.

Rear garden

The gardens include a variety of different zones in both the back and the front, each with separate needs, conditions and plantings. The private back garden is sheltered from the surrounding houses due to the large hedge, trees and palms on the borders. The privacy and access issues meant that all landscape materials, including sandstone blocks, bricks, artificial turf, edging and thousands of plants were brought in by hand to this section via 70 large stairs.

This potted Licuala grandis palm creates a feature in the private rear garden which has a tropical theme
This potted Licuala grandis palm creates a feature in the private rear garden which has a tropical theme

A sandstone wall was built in the stairs area to help retain the soil and lift the depth off the bedrock to lead into the tropical oasis created in the rear garden.

An upper rear garden includes three main areas – a new crazy-paved hidden area that looks down onto a section of vibrant colourful plants, a deck, as well as three small individual lawn areas.

The deck includes capacity for four hidden 5000L water tanks, along with a giant spathiphyllum, plus ginger plants and a feature pot with a beautiful bromeliad.

The lawn areas include a fire pit in one, as well as a second lawn with a brick paved area and bench seat, which is framed by dwarf date palms. The middle lawn section has its own microclimate with palms providing shade all day along and orchids planted into railway sleepers, a water feature, sandstone steppers, date palms growing over the paths and more bromeliads growing out of old tree fern stumps.

This is adjacent to a generously sized pool, with surrounds that include a set of stairs carved out of the bedrock, plus a 5-hole putting green, gazebo, and water feature which spurts out of railway sleepers into a pond.

Front garden

After all this lush, almost tropical greenery, the front garden is completely different. It is essentially a cottage-style garden to complement the house’s façade. Large mature hedges provide privacy from the street  while thoughtful plantings provide colour all year round. The Reflective Gardens team often plants extra items throughout the seasons to ensure colour all year round in this part of the garden.  

Sections of the garden allow for informal seating
Sections of the garden allow for informal seating

Many of these flowering plants are annuals, so the regular maintenance includes replanting and mulching done every season. Perennials such as azaleas and camellias are fertilised regularly to ensure their health is maintained.

Weeding

The Reflective Gardens team hand-weed the garden beds, which keeps weeds under control. This practice is carried through to the extensive paths throughout the property, both in the rear and front gardens. Turf areas are also hand-weeded, complemented by chemicals such as winter grass killer, Bow & Arrow or Spearhead to keep the weeds down.

The team also follows a monthly program that includes soil enhancers, liquid fertilisers, and an application to prevent weeds and pests. Tree loppers come twice a year to clean up the palms and trim larger trees.

The awards

Visit the TLA website for more 2023 winners, information about the Landscape Excellence Awards or to contact the team directly www.landscapeassociation.com.au.

Main photo: Colourful and contrasting foliage provides colour and interest in a shady garden

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