Kym and Shona Osborn weren’t in the market for a new home, but their admiration for the front garden of the property at 10 Whistler Avenue, Unley Park sparked their curiosity and when there was an open inspection, they couldn’t help but take a peek.
The couple toured the home, admiring its immaculately maintained period features and delicate plaster ceilings. They thought the home was big enough when they entered the extension, but couldn’t help loving the light, airy feel of the large addition.
Then they looked to the backyard. Most people would simply see an outdated grass tennis court, but Shona saw something more – she saw a blank canvas.
A lifelong gardener, Shona had a head full of ideas and she could imagine them all coming to fruition in this yard: “I had been waiting to plan my dream garden, and this home had the space to let me finally do it”.
On an impulse, Kym and Shona went to the auction and placed their bid. In a whirlwind, they sold their former home, packed up their possessions and the dogs, and moved into their new property.
The five-bedroom, two-bathroom bungalow boasts an elegant facade that leads to a large entryway with a formal sitting room and dining room to the right, and all five bedrooms in a wing to the left.
The formal dining room looks out to a private courtyard with a French marble fountain curtained by a climbing plant that blooms delicate, white flowers that echo the colours of the fountain.
At the back of the home is an open-plan living, dining and kitchen space with vaulted ceilings that make the room light, airy and ideal for entertaining.
It took a few years for Shona to decide how to go about the garden, but she finally sketched a design to encompass everything she wanted to include.
“I sent my draft to a landscape architect in New South Wales called Michael Bligh,” Shona says. “He specialises in garden rooms and I have always loved his work.”
Without ever visiting, Michael used photographs and measurements to synthesise Shona’s ideas and bring her dream garden to life.
“He sent back this incredible plan that formalised what I had done and added some beautiful elements.”
The garden took three years to develop, with lots of landwork needed to create the different garden rooms before Shona could start planting.
Leading from a verandah that is coated with a warm light seeping through golden-leaved trees is a sunken garden that was inspired by the Mediterranean Garden in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
Water flows along thin rills that follow steps into a small pond surrounded by formal hedges. Nearby, crepe myrtle, camellias and perennials are planted to provide colour all year.
The next garden – which is home to a long, rectangular pond and large trees that shade teak benches – is separated by an elegant wrought iron gate that was handcrafted by an Adelaide Hills blacksmith.
Through a traditional moon gate is a Japanese-style garden inspired by the Himeji Gardens on South Terrace.
Meandering paths wind between garden beds blooming with small maples, dwarf conifer, camellias and bamboo, leading towards a stone that slowly seeps water to trickle down upon the smaller stones below.
A recycled brick wall coated with climbing roses hides the infrastructure that works the garden’s many water features – a completely automated system that turns on and off each day and manages the predictive irrigation system that tailors its watering based on the weather.
With such a beautiful garden, Shona says it is lucky their dogs aren’t the destructive type: “They will drink from the water features on occasion and, in summer, we do find them splashing about.”
After almost a decade, Kym and Shona are selling their much-loved home to downsize now their aging family in New Zealand is unable to visit as often.
People keep asking the couple how they can leave their incredible garden behind, but Shona says it isn’t too much of a worry for them.
“You can always create another beautiful garden,” she says. “Gardens are fluid things, and there are plenty more waiting for me in my future.”
The sale is being handled by Jamie Brown of Booth Real Estate.