Open garden / Harmonious home and garden

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TIM and Shane Woodburn’s garden is designed around their solar-passive house, with low-lying shrubs around the large windows, deciduous eves and ferns to frame and soften the house in the front.

It’s not all about the house, though. The mainly native back garden provides plenty of interest and a relaxing environment, with a small creek trickling through a variety of Australian shrubs and perennials – “so many varieties I can’t count them all,” says Tim.

Tim has also created a small native grassland on the nature strip.

The predominantly native garden in O’Connor will be open to the public through Open Gardens Canberra on the weekend of November 21-22.

The house and the block are both wedge-shaped, says Tim, and the home is oriented so it’s cool in summer and warm in winter, with the paved area and paths located away from the house to avoid reflected heat.

“As you approach the back garden from the side of the house, the first thing you see is the large callistemon, a sea of red, which was deliberately planted so you can’t see the whole garden at once,” Tim says.

A small pond near the house with a variety of rushes, native lilies and grasses attracts wildlife to the garden, with bluebells, banksias, correas and eremophilas providing colour and texture.

Tim describes the paved pergola area of the garden, draped in Chinese gooseberry vines, as a cave of vegetation.

“We sit out here a lot, and we find there is always something to admire,” says Tim.

“It’s secluded and private, and while there is always something in flower, we enjoy the foliage – there are so many interesting little leaves. A plant doesn’t have to flower to be marvellous, and I love the movement in the reeds and the sound of the water.

“I never stop admiring the garden.”

20 Mulga Street, O’Connor, open 10am-4pm, on Saturday, November 21 and Sunday, November 22. Admission $8; free to under-18s and Open Gardens Canberra members. It costs $25 to join for free entry to all open gardens until August 31. More information at

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

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