Open Garden / Japanese maples amid a garden haven

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Trevor Fuller, left, and Greg McGuirk... “We love maples and have found that they’re more hardy than people think.”
Trevor Fuller, left, and Greg McGuirk… “We love maples and have found that they’re more hardy than people think.”

A BEAUTIFUL Japanese-inspired garden with 24 different varieties of maple, daring pruning of a “poodle” bay tree and “lifted” banksia and paths that lead to a surprise around every corner creates a haven for its owners.

Named “Kathleen” for owner Trevor’s grandmother, the garden seamlessly combines natives and exotics with remnants of the old cottage-style, “granny” garden that was here before.

“When I moved in, I think the real estate blurb said: ‘Good luck finding the front door’,” says Trevor.

“It was pretty overgrown, but it was still very much a gardener’s garden, with many plants that were special to the previous owner.”

Landscape designers Greg McGuirk and Trevor Fuller’s garden will be open to the public through Open Gardens Canberra on the weekend of April 16-17.

Describing the garden as experimental but inspired by the romance of Japan, Greg and Trevor say they like to mix up materials and try any plant they like the look of. They also salvage plants from clients’ gardens and try to find a place for things that people want removed.

“We love maples and have found that they’re more hardy than people think,” says Greg.

“They’re actually very low-maintenance and sit well alongside natives. We have so many varieties and, at this time of year, the differences show through in the autumn colour – some are golden, some orange, red or pink.”

In the back, a kiwifruit vine leads to the productive garden where raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, olives, peaches, apricots, apples, rhubarb, cumquat and citrus flourish.

With a sacred garden of white stones and a Buddha statue, the garden also features seats where the owners love to pause to admire the micro-views created.

“My favourite spot is to sit by the small moss garden near a miniature black pine and with a view through the maples to the vertical garden,” says Greg.

“As we work on gardens all day, there is always something special about coming home to your own garden.”

Kathleen”, 21 Downey Street, Karabar, open 10am-4pm, on Saturday, April 16 and Sunday April 17. Admission $8; free to under-18s and Open Gardens Canberra members. It costs $25 to join Open Gardens Canberra and gain free entry to all open gardens until August 31, 2017. More information at

Also open this weekend

Art studio garden, 48 Brereton Street, Queanbeyan West (Open 10am-4pm both days)

A sculptured metal gate opens up to the main garden; a productive permaculture garden full of quirky works of art.

The artist’s studio has a welcoming open front, looking out on to fruit trees and a brick path that steps gradually up to the very top of the garden. Here, the garden recalls memories of the outer edges of a country garden where it merges into the farm beyond.

Railway Park Community Gardens, corner of Henderson Road and Crest Road, Queanbeyan (Open 10am-1pm both days. Entry by donation)

These gardens are getting a makeover from the Queanbeyan Sustainability Group, including a new pergola, disabled access plots, demonstration garden beds and water tanks.

Queanbeyan Sensory Gardens, Ray Morton Park (Open 12pm-4pm both days. Entry by donation)

The Sensory Gardens are a park attraction located on the banks of the Queanbeyan river in Ray Morton Park. The gardens have raised beds and includes plants and activities which engage all five senses, with a viewing platform looking over the river.


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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist.

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