116 Wallace Street
*Note this garden will close at 3pm on Sunday
Behind the high walls of 116 Wallace Street, the hustle and bustle of Braidwood’s main street – and the outside world in general – seems miles away. Bees buzz lazily in the potted flowers and the trickle of water from the fish pond lend an air of calm to the garden.
Almost fifteen years ago a backhoe was brought in to level the block, the original outbuildings were renovated, brick walls erected and paving laid. The existing garden was replaced with a well-planned layout that creates separate outdoor areas that each flow into and complement each other. The only remaining legacy from the garden’s previous life is an elm tree which provides a canopy of shade in the warmer months.
The hard work has paid dividends and the result is a pleasing juxtaposition of formal and informal planting, with strong lines of box hedges and paths offset by mass plantings of less structured varieties.
The owners said they had wanted to create straight lines and a ”bit of formality” with the paths, steps and borders but ”what happens in the background is a bit less controlled”.
The borders are as striking as they are varied: there are hellebores, English lavender, and a holly hedge that was inspired by a similar specimen the owners used to walk past on their way to work in London years ago.
The central feature of the stable courtyard garden is a manicured box hedge planted in an astragal glazed pattern that features 13 panels and frames some of the 140 varieties of roses on display.
Mass plantings of climbing hydrangeas, camellias and tree peonies lend structure and additional pops of colour are provided by ranunculus, daffodils, geraniums, irises and canna lilies. Other perennials include Japanese wind anemones, foxgloves, pansies, phlox, aquilegas and hollyhocks.
One section is devoted purely to specimens with white flowers, an idea the owners picked up from their overseas travels, and the garden’s lush swathe of lawn is so uniform, so soft underfoot, that it seems too perfect to be real.
The profusely flowering clematis montana and Madame Alfred Carriere rose spill over the front wall and several impressive magnolia trees add drama, none more so than the one by the fish pond that is under-planted with a thick carpet of ajuga.
A row of Chanticleer ornamental pear trees provide height to offset the imposing granite home which was built in 1860 by stonemason Terrence McGrath using offcuts of stone used to build Braidwood’s Catholic church.
While it has had many incarnations since then, including a saddlery and pottery shop, the two-storey home was originally built as a butcher’s shop. Reminders of its past include marble slabs in the front room where meat was once laid out, a cellar, stables and a 10-metre-deep well the owners discovered by accident when they were renovating the garden. They have used the stonework incorporated in the house as inspiration for the garden’s walls and paths, having them laid in an English garden bond pattern to mirror the building’s history.
The property’s “Summer Garden” is dominated by a horse chestnut tree, a magnificent shade tree with long upswept sprays of flowers, and is framed by a Portuguese laurel hedge that produces black berries after a flush of fragrant white flowers. A bed in this section is devoted to mass plantings of yellow and orange perennials and annuals backed by a low berberis hedge.
The garden is a reflection of the owners’ dedication and represents an excellent example of what planning and passion can achieve on an average-sized suburban block.