We are thrilled to have our loveliest project, Longueville Garden, featured in the September 2022 issue of Australian House & Garden magazine.
Extensive home renovations had taken a toll on this garden, but it has
been sensitively repaired and redesigned to wrap the new house
with foliage and be a soothing sanctuary for its owners.
STORY Tammy Huynh | PHOTOGRAPHY Nicholas Watt
When it comes to renovating an existing garden, landscape designer and contractor Joanne Neylon, director and founder of Joanne Green Landscape & Interior, knows the importance of assessing a site, seeing what’s valuable and recognising its shortcomings. “This is where you need experience and knowledge to make the harder decisions,” she says. “Any sentimentality is removed, so you can objectively decide what’s worth retaining and what needs to go.”
When Joanne first visited this garden on Sydney’s North Shore, the home was in the middle of a major renovation. “The builders were working at full throttle. The garden was under stress from lack of water, compaction and contamination from building materials.” The owners’ list of requirements was extensive and included creating a new entry path, improving the privacy around the home and establishing an outdoor entertaining space. A lawn was necessary too – large enough for kids and dogs to play – as well as lushly planted beds. The owners wanted to retain as many of the existing plantings as possible. It also had to connect with the home’s heritage.
Joanne’s main concern was the existing plant health and soil remediation. She established an on-site nursery to help salvage any valuable plantings, then set to work on the soil. “We cleared the contaminated soil from the tops of garden beds, adjusted the soil pH and applied ameliorants like aged cow manure to nurture the soil back to health,” she says. The layout was largely predetermined, aside from the dedicated front path, but it needed a few tweaks to make the design flow. Joanne opted for the use of traditional materials such as sawn sandstone, timber and brick pavers for the front and rear gardens. “They are all very durable and sit well within the garden,” she says. Their placement also helps transition you through the various zones of the garden.
In the front garden, a walkway to the entrance is defined by a series of straight paths, edged with a mix of dark-leaved impatiens, arborescent camellias, strappy grasses and a buxus hedge. Two large urns are nestled among the foliage near the front gate, creating a sense of arrival; a sawn-sandstone landing enhances the gravitas and kerb appeal.
Joanne kept many of the mature plantings, including a Norfolk Island pine, jacaranda, maples and camellias. “The mature plantings were the heroes,” she says. “They provide structure and a verdant backdrop for the new plantings.” Joanne aimed to fill the garden with plants that could be appreciated from every viewpoint. “We selected species that could handle being clipped and contained,” she says.
“As plants mature, they take up more space, and it can be hard to appreciate the sculptural form and beauty of each one, so choosing plants that respond well to pruning allows each
one to be appreciated for years to come.” Crabapple, crepe myrtle, hydrangeas, azaleas, buxus spheres and camellias fit the bill, and offer lots of seasonal interest too.
At the garden’s base, a rectangular grassed area was given a curvaceous edge on one side, bordered by a meandering sandstone path, to soften the space. The grass was replaced with Sir Walter buffalo, a soft-leaf buffalo that’s hard-wearing and shade-tolerant.
The garden is truly a private oasis, with plenty of vantage points and places to enjoy being in the space. Benches are sprinkled throughout, encouraging the owners to sit and immerse themselves in the space – an activity Joanne believes they do often.