Sydney splendour: Traditional gem


With external spaces not touched since this grand house was constructed more than a century ago, major work was required to give them a touch of traditional flavour

A Total Concept Landscape Architects & Pool Designers was commissioned to design the external areas of this exquisite Mosman estate to incorporate a swimming pool and associated entertaining areas, a refurbished tennis court, driveway and formal front entry lawn and gates, all to be set within stunning traditional gardens. A Total Concept also does work on homes, but fortunately, this home needed none. However, the external spaces had not been touched since construction of the house was completed more than a century ago and required major reworking and upgrading.

“The best way to describe the external areas in real estate agent terms would be ‘in an original state’ or ‘a renovator’s delight’, which effectively gave us a free reign to work,” says John Storch from A Total Concept. “There were to be four very distinct external areas to be designed and developed. One was a period-style driveway and formal lawn entry area, two – a tennis court in the lower area of the property, three – an elevated pool and poolside entertaining area and four – extensive sloped garden areas to three sides of the residence.”

The driveway was two simple paved runners, which was designed to take horse-drawn carriages rather than cars. At the front of the house, the grounds sloped quickly up to the roadway, so the home had no presence to the street. “We excavated out more than 1000 tonnes of material to achieve our design for a formal gated entry area with sandstone-based dressed timber boundary fencing, formal lawn entry area, together with a sandstone and special brick-paved driveway,” says John.

Traditional garden plants suitable for use in the Australian environment have been utilised to the front areas of the property to develop a theme suitable for the home. These include formal hedges of Buxus japonica (Japanese box), Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ (Gem Magnolia), Michelia figo (port wine magnolia) and Buxus sempervirens (English box) plus Agapanthus orientalis (Nile Lily), Juniperus conferta (Shore Juniper), Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ (Mystic Salvia), Salvia ‘Pink Spires’ (Pink Salvia), Clivia miniata (Clivia), Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’ (Artemesia), and Gardenia florida (Florist’s Gardenia).

An old pre-existing lawn tennis court on the property evoked visions of ladies in lace, parasols, garden parties and cucumber sandwiches. The dilapidated lawn was replaced with a modern artificial turf, and the surrounding chain-link fence replaced and reduced in length. =QUOTE=
Garden sculpture was placed in a lawn of ivy, and a tennis house designed and installed. Vegetation surrounding the court has been replanted using a hedge of Elaeagnus macrophylla (Elaeagnus) plus Juniperus x media ‘Pfitzeriana’ (Pfitzer Juniperus), Hederacea canariensis (Canary Island Ivy) and Rhododendron ‘Pink Pearl’ (Pink Rhododendron).

 At night, the tennis court is lit with spotlights. The poolside entertaining areas are well lit with LED downlighting for functional purposes, which together with energy-efficient LED lighting in the swimming pool, creates mood effects with washes of light and dancing shadows. All gardens are heavily lit with lighting for highlights and accents.

Obtaining approval to construct the new swimming pool was controversial due to the required positioning being forward of the council-approved building line. John’s team at A Total Concept negotiated this controversial proposal through local council, saving the owners the cost, time and uncertainty of Land and Environment Court.

The fully tiled light blue pool and uniform-coloured sandstone surrounds create a peaceful and relaxing area in which to take a dip or sit under the existing flowering jacarandas. It ensures that the overall project is in keeping with the stately home, especially when viewed from the new Queenslander-style traditional wraparound verandah decks.

New low plantings between the tennis court and pool include clipped spherical Teucrium fruticans (Bush Germander) and Rhaphiolepis ‘Oriental Pearl’ (Dwarf Hawthorn) plus Juniperus horizontalis ‘Douglassii’ (Waukegan Juniper). Other plants include the unusual Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea) and rarely used Corylus avellana ‘Purpurea’ (Red Hazel).

The extensive sloped garden areas to three sides of the residence create a series of rooms, each with a different planting style. One area with pre-existing native Angophora costata (Sydney Red Gum) suggested the use of native plants such as Grevillea sericea (Spider Grevillea), Hakea teretifolia (Hakea), Doryanthes excelsior (Gymea Lily), Actinotus helianthi (Flannel flower), Banksia ericifolia (Heath Banksia), Correa reflexa (Common Correa), Elaeocarpus reticulatus (Blueberry Ash), Grevillea speciosa ssp. speciosa (Red Spider Flower) and Callistemon citrinus (Crimson Bottlebrush).

A dry creek bed with various-sized rounded river pebbles, through which runs a water drainage easement that occasionally floods, has been developed through another part of the garden. Here, native plants such as Viola hederacea (Native Violets), Dendrobium speciosum (King Orchid) and Blechnum brasiliense ‘Silver Lady’ (Blechnum) are in keeping with an adjacent bush reserve.

John and his team have created a beautiful environment for the owners of this abode. It adds immeasurably to the lifestyle amenity and value of the property.

This garden and pool complex was designed by:


65 West Street, North Sydney NSW 2060

Phone 02 9957 5122



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