Tuesday, 7 June 2011


I’m often asked for suggestions for gardens worth visiting for horticultural and design inspiration. One of my favourites is ‘Eryldene’ in the northern Sydney suburb of Gordon and it is often open at weekends at this time of the year.

The front garden at Eryldene
Eryldene is the former home of linguist and garden designer Professor E G Waterhouse (1881-1977). The house dates from 1913-14 and was designed by the eccentric architect William Hardy Wilson. The semi-formal front garden is a fine example of an interwar garden, and was meant to be seen from the street.  The mixed plantings of perennials, shrubs, lawn and trees sympathise well with the symmetrical design and colouring of the main house. The front garden is dominated by a large jacaranda, a tree often planted in gardens designed by Waterhouse, such as the still extant specimen he planted in the Main Quadrangle at the University of Sydney in the 1920s.

While the front garden at Eryldene contains a diverse palette of plants most of the garden is dominated by camellias. This genus was one of Waterhouse’s great loves and he propagated most of the plants in the garden. Waterhouse’s fascination with camellias saw him establish the Camellia Grove Nursery at St Ives in 1939 which helped the shrub regain popularity. The professor later became the first president of the International Camellia Society and was awarded the prestigious Veitch Gold Medal by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1966.

The Hardy Wilson designed Tea House

Both Waterhouse and Hardy Wilson were fascinated with China and one of the delights of the back garden is the Chinese influenced Tea House built in 1927. The garden is often open to the public during the weekends, especially when the Camellias are in flower as they are during winter time.

Eyldene, 17 McIntosh Street, Gordon (nearest train station Gordon)

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