Michael Cooke: Waterfront Garden

Today we welcome Guest Contributor and Landscape Designer Michael Cooke to share with us one of his immaculate gardens, the Waterfront Garden…

“In real life, as opposed to what you often see on television – good gardens take time to develop, and this garden has increased in beauty as it’s matured – twice designed and carefully implemented ten or so years apart as an adjoining block of waterfront land became available to the owner.

pt fred_041I adore the ornamental grasses that add movement to the landscape, and their apparent wildness balances strong architectural lines; there are some clipped and other naturally shaped screening plants to offer privacy, and a stately old Liquidambar provides Summer shade and frames the watery outlook from the home above.

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We worked carefully with the architect, builder and an assortment of contractors to have a contemporary living pavilion built besides the swimming pool from where the harbour, a short stones throw away, can also be enjoyed. To screen a neighbouring home, the BBQ and an outdoor fireplace were positioned on the sheltered leeward side of the pavilion, where you can look over a level lawn that now covers the slab over what was once the swimming pool that once belonged near the original house – and this now acts as a reservoir so that the garden can be irrigated if need be in times of drought.

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Japanese box of varying pot sizes were tightly grouped together on the upper terrace to appear mature and these form mounding, ever-changing sculptural forms. Yet more box trained traditionally into fat cones adorn large terracotta pots besides low sandstone walls by the stepper path.pt fred_018

There’s not one particular style to the plant selections – the Mediterranean combines with the Orient and there are succulents from arid regions, but seasonality is always important to us. Which means year round there’s always interest as the grasses grow throughout the warmer months and are sliced to the ground through dormancy.

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More flamboyant colour comes from pink flowering Cannas, `Mutablis’ roses, Pomegranates, Oleander, Crepe Myrtle, Sedum and Aloe and a bit of evergreen hedging hold the whole thing together.”

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The short of it…

Michael Cooke
Landscape Design
Sydney based. Designs nationally.