We visit Campton, Brendan's parents' property and family home, located just outside Armidale, NSW.
The garden is constantly evolving and the way it has progressed has been reflective of Brendan's design principles and philosophies. It actually documents Brendan's own personal journey in design to where he has arrived today.
The garden started out as a classic cottage-style garden, all bitsy with a hodge-podge collection of plants. It lacked any form of cohesion or consideration. It wrapped around the house, hemming it in and the surrounding fence was so close to the house that it felt like the house was being strangled. The house needed to breathe as it looked like it had landed from outer space. There was no connection between house and garden or garden and surrounding landscape. In fact there was a definite jarring between the garden and the surrounding landscape. So Brendan's first step was to think about the possibilities in big brush strokes and to come up with a master plan.
By pushing the boundary fences away from the house, it gave the opportunity to view the garden in relation to the landscape, and also looking back to the house you could appreciate its position within the garden. In his plan, Brendan designed the garden to be made up of smaller "room-sized" spaces that related to the north, south, east, and west axes of the house, and then to connect all these spaces so you could move freely between them and physically drawn from one space to the next.
The south side began in 1996 and is now the oldest part of the new garden. Fluffy, formal, English, and cottage-y in style, this garden contains the beginnings of Brendan's journey through his design principals and philosophies of where he is today. Its layout is fairly predictable using the symmetry and axis of the house and utilizing fairly traditional shapes and patterns seen in European traditional gardens.
The next stage of the garden was the north side of the house and this area of the garden creates a transition between the English cottage garden of stage one and the dry rural condition of the surrounding landscape. Rows of lavender were planted in a curvy flow to echo the undulation in the landscape, and also is a reminder to the cropping industry in the area. The colours of the lavender are muted in tone and are therefore harmonious with the muted tones of the Australian bush. But the lavender also talks to the English garden, and integrates the two beautifully. This stage was developing as Brendan became aware of what it means for a garden to have a sense of place, and to relate to where it is.
The last section of the garden started in 1998 and was the area surrounding the entrance to the garden and the house. This area of the garden was all about creating open space at the front of the house that allowed you to travel to the boundary of the garden and get a nice aspect of the house within the garden setting. In this final part of the design, Brendan's main aim was to not compete with the lavender rows or the house, and the challenge was in keeping the design simple, and it's strength lies in the void that is created, the negative space being as valid as the positive.
This garden has evolved over a long period of time, and even though Brendan's interaction with it has been over the last 10 years, it is true to say that it started way before then even back in the 1920's. It's a garden that grew by bits and pieces, and in its present and most recent incarnation it's certainly benefited by Brendan's knowledge, enthusiasm and energy.
Equipment and suppliers
- Barb wire balls