Bromeliads are super-sized and loving the microclimate downstairs.
Bromeliads are super-sized and loving the microclimate downstairs.

Striking garden with simple colours and restraint

RESTRAINT can be the difference between a striking garden and one that looks haphazard. Even for a professional, holding back can be challenging, especially when you have an open brief.

However, landscape designer and horticulturist Diana Harden has achieved a perfect blend of colour and form at the home she shares with husband Peter in Cumbalum by, as she says, not acting like a kid in a candy shop.

Moving from Sydney to the Northern Rivers more than six years ago, she had the opportunity to plant as many subtropicals in her new, completely unplanted garden as took her fancy.

Simple colour palette

She decided to keep the palette simple, predominantly grey and green, while adapting different areas of the garden to different microclimates.

For example, drought-tolerant plants such as Uganda Mother-in-Law's Tongue were needed to sit under the house's wide eaves, while downstairs she has been able to create a rainforest garden that includes Syzygium Cascade Lilly Pilly.

 

 

Agaves, blue chalk sticks and Bismarkia palms surround the pool.
Agaves, blue chalk sticks and Bismarkia palms surround the pool.

Surrounding the pool, with its walls in charcoal and grey, are agaves, blue chalk sticks and magnificent Bismarkia palms, that Mrs Harden fell in love with on an overseas holiday. Wander along the paths that lead from front to back, with a change in slope, and you'll also discover Rush Strelitzia, Oak Leaf Kalanchoe, Magnolia Little Gems, Cardboard Palm, Lady Palms, Silver Plum, Quandong and Persian Shield. Bromeliads are also a favourite and the designer admits she is mad about succulents.

Winning awards

"All the garden is designed to be viewed from the house," says Mrs Harden who, in 2013, won the Plantscape Design Award and was Highly Commended in the Residential Category of the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers awards.

 

Grouped plantings create form and, in this case, add colour.
Grouped plantings create form and, in this case, add colour.

She has been careful to preserve glimpses of the park, ocean and remnant rainforest.

Mrs Harden says she favours dog-legging pathways so that views are revealed slowly and advises those starting from scratch to get their hard landscaping right before moving on to the soft.

Mrs Harden can be contacted on 6686 8547, 0418 288 428 or go to dianaharden.com.au.

Gardening tips

1. Use half the species and double the quantities

2. Consider microclimates, the architecture of your house, the exisiting vegetation, slope of the land, privacy from neighbours, views, winds, sun and shade.

3. Plant according to inland or coastal

4. Try some 'no fail' plants such as cardboard palms, lily pillies, native grasses and native cordylines, especially if you are starting out.



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