In Kenthurst, in Sydney's outer northwest, is a most unusual garden with an eclectic range of plants. It is the garden of landscape designer Anne Curry and her husband John. Helen Curran visited it to investigate its history and creative input.
After moving to suburban Kenthurst from a five acre property six years ago, Anne and John wanted to create something different to their previous English country garden – they wanted to create a subtropical oasis.
To achieve this in an area where the temperatures can go above 45ºC in summer and winter lows can
go down to at least -2ºC, modifying the micro-climates becomes one of the most important issues for success. Anne patiently waited for over one year before making decisions regarding the hard landscaping and planting.
During this time she watched how the cold air moved through the garden identifying areas where the frost settled. Anne also watched how the soil absorbed the rainfall and how the excess water moved through the garden during heavy falls.
At the end of this time of watching, Anne realised that throughout summer, the soil baked in the hot sun without cover and that the exposed sandstone absorbed the sun's heat during the day and slowly released it throughout the night. During winter, the cold air dropped down to the back fence leaving trails of frost where it settled, far from an ideal environment for subtropical plants.
The next factor to be taken into consideration was the soil or in this case, the lack of soil. A ledge of partially exposed sandstone ran across the entire width of the property and was fully exposed in some places. In other places it was just 400 millimetres below the soil. The soil was predominately sand and seriously lacked nutrients. It was also water repellent and was in need of terracing to allow rainfall to soak into the soil.
With this information a site plan was drawn
up showing the existing features as well as the