Joh and Graham visit Hartvale gardens

Cottage gardens are ever-so-cheerful places because you plant what you love, then let it go!
Loading the player...

We often take you to amazing homes with Joh and amazing gardens with Graham. But this property is so good, they had to team up to show you both. Situated at the base of the Blue Mountains, the empty property started like one of artist Jennifer Edwards’ art pieces; a blank canvas. Combining her talents with builder husband Peter Kube, and using mostly recycled material, their simple Colorbond shed has grown to be a clever, sustainable, budget family home surrounded by a lush, beautiful garden.

WATCH: A walk around Hartvale garden with Joh and Graham

About the garden

Established only three and a half years ago, Hartvale sits on 2ha of gentle rolling land in Little Hartley at the base of Mt York, west of the Blue Mountains, NSW. The garden is a canvas of vivid colours with cottage favourites such as lavender, penstemons, salvias, coneflowers, roses, dahlias and California poppies.  

Hartvale garden
Mass plant with all your favourite blooms (Credit: Brent Wilson)

It features a traditional potager garden, kitchen garden and open art studio. While new, the garden has the feel of being well established, with old railway sleepers repurposed into garden bed edges, rusty corrugated iron and tin drum planters, and tossed out pieces of wrought metal that have been retrieved and given new lives as pieces of art.

Hartvale garden
Disguise your airconditioning unit, or any other eyesore, with lots of plants (Credit: Brent Wilson)

There are no rules to follow when you establish a cottage garden – no right way or wrong way, as there is when you’re planning the shape of a formal garden where order, symmetry and perfect tidiness reign supreme.

A cottage garden such as Hartvale is relaxed, colourful, fun and a little bit messy. the informal crowding of flowering perennials and annuals, with dollops of fat shrubbery, creates an intriguing tangle of colour, texture and shapes. 

For height in your beds, choose lovely linaria – it flowers from summer to autumn (Credit: Brent Wilson)

You can create a profusion of flowers with their haunting perfumes and exploit the romance of their dainty prettiness. Indulge in the imbalances of height and movement, and revel in the allure of their wanton wildness. It’s a place of real freedom – and one where you’ll absolutely want to linger!

Hartvale garden
Underplant your potted fruit trees to lush effect – try strawberries and nasturtiums (Credit: Brent Wilson)

Cottage garden design tips

How you lay out your cottage garden is entirely up to you. But these tips will help you make it cohesive.

1. Curve your paths

Soft, curving paths add to the relaxed feeling and invite you to explore further. Use hard surfacing such as pavers, old bricks or stone, or soft paving such as wood chips and gravel. Or, you could lay turf.
A slightly elevated position allows you to claim views of the landscape beyond your own patch (Credit: Brent Wilson)

2. Mix and match

Don’t worry if colours clash – anything goes in a cottage garden. 

Orange helenium
Brighten up your autumn days with a riot of orange helenium (Credit: Brent Wilson)

3. Vary heights

Add tall plants for visual interest – and not necessarily at the back of a border – so your eyes move up and around. You take in a lot more this way.

Hartvale garden
Old metal drums make great planters – just add drainage (Credit: Brent Wilson)

4. Add fun elements

If you find garden art that is quirky or delightful, put it in. It adds character.

Hartvale garden
When adding art to a cottage garden, think rusty metal (Credit: Brent Wilson)

See it

What: Hartvale Gardens

Where: 49 Sunray Ave, Little Hartley, west of the Blue Mountains, NSW

When: 17-18 April and spring 2021

Cost: $10. Children under 16 free

For more info, go to

Related stories