Open Garden / Tropical rainforest to glow at twilight

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141030foxyslandscapes-3313AMONG palms, twinkling lights and art sculptures, landscapers Terry and Mia Fox’s garden is a place to meander past bubbling ponds, ferns and maples, traverse the rainforest boardwalk and enjoy views over Bruce Ridge nature reserve and Black Mountain.

The front garden is formal and neat, with repeated plantings of structural hedges and driveway beds, but the back tells a different story, as a densely planted, private rainforest unfolds with granite paths and staircases leading downhill to the boardwalk and floating artificial-grass platforms.

The 1600sqm O’Connor heights garden will be open on the weekend of November 8 and 9, and in a break from the traditional Open Gardens Australia schedule, it will open from 4pm-10pm on the Saturday evening, and then 10am-4.30pm on the Sunday.

“We thought we’d try a twilight opening because the garden looks pretty special at that time,” says horticulturist Terry.

“We have so many lights throughout the garden which give a glow to the foliage and the stonework, and really set things off.”

When the couple bought the property in 1997, the steep block was unloved, wild and weedy.

The timber boardwalk is a relatively new addition, inspired by a family holiday to Lord Howe Island eight years ago.

“Terry has wanted to put one in ever since!” says Mia. “It finally happened earlier this year and the kids (Oliver, nine, and Phoebe, four) love riding their bikes and skateboarding around it.”

The open garden event will include sculptures and lighting by Matthew Manwaring, and on the Saturday night Richard Parker, of Murrumbateman winery Long Rail Gully, will host wine tasting.

The couple chose to keep most of the existing indigenous trees on the block, which provide a canopy for a layer of mixed ornamental trees and the lower storey textural plants.

“The eucalypts can be hard work as they’re so hungry, but they create privacy and protection,” says Mia. “If we hadn’t kept the gum trees it wouldn’t be O’Connor.”

24 Wongoola Close, O’Connor, open Saturday, November 8, 4pm-10pm, and Sunday, November 9, 10am-4.30pm. Adults $8, children under 18, free. Funds raised will go to Open Gardens Australia and the Australian Red Cross. More information at

There’s more…

THREE other gardens are also open to the public on the weekend of November 8-9

  • AT 4 Hubbe Street, Torrens, a beautiful streetscape of mature trees shelters a cottage garden filled with colour and scent.
  • AT 12 Howchin Place, Torrens, clever and successful contrasts of flower and foliage are highlights in this much-loved garden, where winding paths reveal surprises at every turn.
  • AND, as featured in last week’s “CityNews”, bold reds and cool greens define a garden of beautiful mature trees and finely foliaged structural shrubs at 7 Fuller Street, Deakin.

Photos by Gary Schafer

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist with a particular interest in homes and gardens.

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