April 8, 2021

The garden that keeps on giving

Contemporary and edible, this Prospect garden abounds in beauty and substance. See for yourself as part of the SA Landscape Festival, starting on Saturday, April 10.

When Kym Ide and Mandy Furlan built a modern, architectural extension on their Prospect home, they wanted to frame it with a garden worthy of their stunning new abode.

Kym and Mandy each had wishlists for the new garden, with different items on each list. The couple enlisted Peter Adley from Yardstick Landscape Services to bring their dreams to life and the result is a tranquil, low maintenance space that just keeps giving.

When the couple moved in, the garden was no more than a pile of rocks, raggedy trees and derelict garden sheds. Step by step, a plan was imagined and refined to create a modern garden that incorporates textures, colours and beautiful movement.

The front fence has been cleverly designed with angled blades to allow a balance of security and communication with passers-by.

The home was originally half the size of its current iteration, so significant outdoor space was sacrificed. However, Peter has managed to incorporate the couple’s needs into less than 100 square metres, still providing an air of spaciousness.

“The back of the home is a little bit more contemporary, which is why we used stronger lines with the paving, but that was softened with curves and natural materials,” Peter says.

The home’s modern facade complements the curvature used in the garden.

There’s not a blade of lawn in all the garden – a mosaic of Kanmantoo slate paving takes away the need for maintenance, while adding interesting texture and colours. But the real colour comes out in autumn, thanks to one of Mandy’s requests.

“We lived in the US a while ago and Mandy saw all the fall leaves and she wanted to capture that,” Kym says.

Dichondra (silver falls) cascade from the planters, surrounded by sage and Limonium Perezii Blue (Perez’s sea lavender).

“We’d make trips to Maine and Vermont and New Hampshire and it looked just like the fall you see on television.”

In their own garden, they have Chinese pistachio trees, which turn vibrant shades of orange, red, purple and yellow a couple of weeks apart, prolonging the display. “We get a bit of an extended patch around April or May when the colours just burst and you can sit there and remember the classic American fall in the northeast.”

Wherever you wander, there’s no shortage of edibles. Nine fruit trees line the driveway and herbs double as groundcover. Dotted throughout are raised garden beds, for ease of gardening, filled with seasonal vegetables. Much of the real estate is accounted for, but Kym ensures there’s always a little bit of room to play with annual herbs or other experimental plantings – corn on the cob has been a recent one.

Fiery autumn colours were on the top of the wishlist and these Chinese pistachio trees more than deliver.

With so much variety, there’s always something going on in the garden. “There’s a little bit of downtime in the winter when I try to let the garden rest, but there’s always something to pick.

There’s always room for a new edible and Kym has been experimenting with corn.

“We love to just sit and watch it change over the year.”

Peter says one of the greatest challenges was the mix of existing fencing – there were about seven different types bordering the property. To make it more cohesive, the style of a neighbour’s pergola was mimicked and extended across much of the fence line. Another portion was covered with a passionfruit vine.

The bold, architectural home extension – by Studio Nine Architects – needed a garden that stood firm in the space, with the repetition of circular shapes and structures employed to achieve this effect.

Garden beds and ground patterns follow the theme, along with three cylindrical pillar planters with swathes of dichondra cascading from the top. They sit in a prime position to be viewed from the living room.

“My mother-in-law is quite a traditional gardener and she asked me where I was going to put all my hanging baskets, so that was my solution – it’s an ode to the old hanging basket.”

They provide gentle movement, along with the Chinese fountain grass. “There are barely any flowers, so the grass provides the substitute. They come out regularly and we sit inside and watch them moving back and forth in the wind.”

But the garden isn’t just to be enjoyed from inside. A bench beneath a pecan tree in the front yard provides a serene spot to sit out in the elements, and have a chat with the neighbours too.

Their front fence features a low stone wall and blade screening, which provides security, but also allows for interaction with the community. “We didn’t want to have a front fence that blocked the view of the street. It allows people to get a glimpse of the garden, and we can sit back and watch the world passing by through the blades. If one of our neighbours walks past, we can say hello.”

This garden will be open for the SA Landscape Festival on Saturday, April 10.


This story first appeared in the February 2021 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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