So much garden design is problem solving. I was reminded of this when Inside Out magazine asked me to write a story about Sydney garden designer Peter Fudge’s front garden. There were no details in the brief from the editor so I was expecting a garden that set the house off nicely and provided a clear and welcoming entrance. The twin ambitions of the front garden. But when I arrived I realised that Peter had had a bigger problem to deal with. The house is sited on a slope and a garage (that luxury of Sydney living!) had been snuck into the front, so that the flat roof sat just under the front bedroom window. The garage monstered the front garden, cramped the space and offered a charmless view from the bedroom. The afternoon summer sun richocheting off the metal would have been blinding.
Peter’s challenge was to incorporate the garage roof into a visually cohesive, two-tiered garden that provided an outlook from the bedroom, as well as setting off the house and offering that welcoming entrance. He started with a uniform flooring of pea gravel, broken up with islands of low planting.
The existing garden had one tree worth keeping, a crepe myrtle. Peter added another three white-flowering crepe myrtles to give a sense of a grove, and to provide some seasonal change to a planting palette of hardy, sun and drought-tolerant plants including kalanchoe, crassula, dichondra, westringia and rosemary. Staggered bluestone steps lead through the gravel and plants to the front porch.
Peter is a collector of pots and of succulents, and the collection, some of which has travelled over at least four house moves and several decades, is massed on the front porch. He doesn’t like it to look too styled and designed, so pots are in a range of materials and colours, pulled together by the bulk of the succulents they house.
The grey paint palette echoes the silvers chosen in the plantings, in the existing tiles, and in great bleached wood Adirondack chair, in which Peter likes sit and mull on what to do next.
I didn’t turn up expecting to take pictures, so these are just snaps with my phone. For better pictures and the full story, have a look at April Inside Out.