Open Garden / Stepping across the rich carpet of groundcover

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Lorraine and Geoff Corner... “We used to live in the tropics and we had become used to seeing a lot of greenery.”
Lorraine and Geoff Corner… “We used to live in the tropics and we had become used to seeing a lot of greenery.”

IT’S all about the understory in Lorraine and Geoff Corner’s peaceful Pearce garden.

The rich carpet of green beneath magnolias, conifers and pittosporum creates a lush vibe on this large block, with the dense layer of pratia, dichondra and native violets in both the front and back accessed by stepping stones.

“We used to live in the tropics on and off and we had become used to seeing a lot of greenery,” says Geoff.

“We find tan bark a bit dry and arid looking, so we love to have a few different varieties of ‘steppables’ for a mixture of textures and foliage, with a few flowers coming through.”

Geoff and Lorraine’s cool, relaxing garden will be open to the public through Open Gardens Canberra on the weekend of March 12-13.

Geoff says they bought the house in 1984 but it wasn’t until 1997 that they landscaped and completely reshaped the garden, removing scraggly lawns and creating five separate shallow ponds, two rocky watercourses and a paved curved entertainment area which is a favourite spot for the couple to sit.

“It’s peaceful here, and calm,” Geoff says. “Most of all I like the foliage – everywhere you look there’s different foliage, and I enjoy watching it move when the wind blows.”

The garden includes natives, with a variety of ferns and palms, kangaroo paw, lemon, shrubs, correas, acacias and lilies. There are eucalypts, banksias and callistemons. Lotus pots, camellias, clumping bamboo and Buddha heads create an Asian feel to the space.

“We wanted the garden to feel soft, with no right angles, and for it to look as though the water flows through the space, although the ponds are all separate,” Geoff says.

“It also gives the idea of depth, with little vistas from anywhere you sit. You can’t see the whole garden from anywhere.”

Lorraine says she does the majority of the work in the garden, which is green year-round.

“It’s my relaxation and therapy, and a diversion – if there’s something else I should be doing, you can find me in the garden!” she says.

93 Macfarland Place, Pearce, open 10am-4pm, on Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13. 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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