The stepping stone lawn is lined with silver birch, NZ flax, spurge (Euphorbia wulfenii) and coastal rosemary, and leads to a maze of cloud-pruned oleaster (Elaeagnus sp).
2. Design influences
Being in the country, the Ooralba Estate gardens can adopt the Japanese design tradition of borrowing from the neighbouring landscape. It works in urban areas, too. Borrow a tree from next door or use a neighbour's bare wall as a blank canvas for your garden display
3. Colour palette
The dominant tones of these gardens are grey-greens and silver, colours that are ideal for the Japanese emphasis on space and texture. You can use these hues to also highlight pops of colour, such as the golden autumn foliage and the black fissures on the bark of the silver birch, the masses of purple flowers of native violet groundcover or the striking burnt red flowers of NZ flax.
Instead of a lawn, you can grow native violets (Viola hederacea) as a groundcover as done here in a grove of silver birch (Betula pendula). The violets growing up the stone steps imitate the effect of moss on stones that are used in Japanese design. The lawn is also dotted with lights, that imitate small stumps. Imagine this grove glowing at night!
5. Create a pond
A modern take on a traditional Japanese tearoom sits on the edge of the dam. You can provide native habitat by planting rushes in a shallow pond, as well as creating an attractive ornamental effect.
6. Reflect your local environment
Here, towering spotted gums (Corymbia maculata) step down a slope as they do in the nearby Morton National Park.
7. Contrast forms
Accentuate the smooth, rounded balls of cloud-pruned oleaster (Elaeagnus sp) with the spiky leaves of New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax).
8. Big landscape features can star as small touches
Slender silver birch between cloud pruned oleaster - E.macrophylla for large balls, E. pungens and coastal rosemary (Westringia sp) for small ones - suits small gardens.
9. Make a maze
It's called the Amoeba Garden and these blobs of spiny oleaster (Elaeagnus sp) reproduce collective cells one at a time to create a walk you can happily get lost in.
10. Kitchen garden
Take the formal theme of the ornamental gardens through into a kitchen garden with rows of raised beds filled with fresh produce. Don't forget nets to deter wildlife!
11. Add some chooks
Chickens lay eggs, fertilise your garden, keep your soil aerated, help control unwanted grubs and bugs, tidy up your patch and also make great pets.
12. And a pizza oven
Under the green shadows of beautiful Morton National Park, where the bush spills down the escarpment and thrives in its natural environment, introduce an exotic element - a quaint pizza oven with dinner ingredients: herbs and vegetables taken from the garden.
1. Silver birch
The bark of the silver birch makes it a standout, but so do the leaves and spring catkins.
The small, glossy, undulating leaves of oleaster (Elaeagnus pungens) are ideal for cloud pruning.
3. Euphorbia wulfenii
Lovely clusters of tiny yellow-green flowers pop out of the top of the stalks of Euphorbia wulfenii.
4. NZ flax
NZ flax (Phormium tenax) is a striking architectural plant, and its flowers are stunning.
5. Licorice plant
The natural mounded shape of the licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) is enhanced by its soft, felted foliage.
6. Coastal rosemary
For toughness and prettiness combined, you can't go past the native coastal rosemary (Westringia fruticosa).
Visit Ooralba Estate
A fully serviced retreat with accommodation for 14, Ooralba Estate is suitable for weddings, corporate or wellness events.
Where: 165 Cavan Rd, Barrengarry, NSW
Open: Autumn and spring for accommodation guests only.
For more information, go to ooralba.com.