Open garden / Butterflies, birds and beauty in a small space

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A SMALL garden can create a visual impact, feed a family and be beautiful and relaxing at the same time, says garden owner and marriage celebrant Sandra Norris of her Theodore garden.

“I like to work out how best to utilise small spaces with creative, clever design,” she says.

“Play is important to me, too – I have four grandchildren and they have fun out here for hours. The garden is designed in a butterfly shape with soft edges and I use a lot of pots to create height and interest and little places with fairies, birds, toys, bridges, artificial grass, mini gardens and tree houses for the little ones to enjoy.

“I’ve hosted weddings here, too.”

The quirky, playful garden will be open to the public for the first time through Open Gardens Canberra on the weekend of March 18-19.

With 48 varieties of fruit, much of it espaliered and including peach, kiwi, passionfruit, figs, grapes, kumquat and pomegranate, as well as veggies, herbs and flowers, the garden is also self sufficient for water with a 14,000-litre water tank.

Sandra says she loves to create hidden nooks for sitting, playing and observing.

“There are little ‘rooms’ beneath the deck and under the stairs for relaxing and hiding away, including the butterfly room for the kids to play in and a tool area where I can find everything I need,” she says.

“There’s a fish pond, a fountain and a fernery under there, too, and lots of cosy places to explore.”

Around every corner in Sandra’s garden is a small sitting area and recycled or repurposed items, and she says she also tries to include two of everything wherever she can.

“It’s a symmetry thing or my own personal feng shui that works for me!” she says.

“I love to potter around in the garden, though I especially like the spot where I can sit, look over the garden and then reach up and pick a kiwi fruit.”

“Ysadora”, 7 Cochrane Crescent, Theodore, open 10am-4pm, on Saturday, March 18, and Sunday, March 19. 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. More information at


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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist.

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