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Everglades Garden, Blue Mountains, NSW

EVERGLADES GARDENS:

HOW A HISTORIC GARDEN DEVELOPED

A classic Blue Mountains garden and art deco house; Everglades garden was the ultimate “backyard” for Henri Van Velde, a wealthy Sydney businessman in the 1930’s.

Van Velde was inspired initially by another Blue Mountains garden, Dean Park, and it’s designer, Paul Sorenson. Sorenson was and still is, renowned to be one of Australias greatest landscapers, and ultimately Van Velde enlisted Sorensons services in the development of Everglades.

The property is now managed by the National Trust of NSW, and is open to the public daily from 9am to 5pm.

We can learn a great deal from the systematic way Sorenson developed this (and other gardens); and applying a similar approach to developing our own landscapes, no matter how small.

1. First Decide What to Keep

Sorenson’s first task was always to decide which features to retain, and which to dispose of

Mishaped or damaged trees were to be removed, but desirable specemins were marked for retention.

The lower part of the property has magnificent views of the Jamison Valley…these were retained.

2. Differentiate Different Types of Gardens

The next step Sorenson decided to separate this view from the more formal garden areas –thus creating

For some it would have seemed strange to purposefully obscure the view from the formal terraces; but for Sorenson; the garden had greater interest if it was made impossible to see the total layout from any single position.

3. Deal with the Physical Problems

The two major problems with this site were the steep slope, and poor soil.

Sorenson solved these problems in a simple, yet brilliant way. The relatively thing soil was dug over by hand removing the stone which was then stockpiled. A series of terraces were then created and the stone used to construct walls and pathways.

4. Create a series of vistas and features of interest.

While the house is definitely art deco in style; the garden contains features which are of various styles. The garden theatre is a formal terrace with a classic “temple” built into a wall at one end. Sculpture close to the house is more contemporary to the art deco era, but further away from the house, you can find sculpture that is classical in style.

By the late 1930’s, Everglades was a garden of some note, renowned for it’s sweeping banks of rhododendrons and extensive carpets of colourful annuals. These extravagant displays of annuals are no longer, too costly to maintain today; but the broad structure of the design remains much as it was over 50 years ago,

Everglades today is a mature and majestic garden, divided into a variety of distinct areas, each with it’s own character and attraction. (see plan).

It is an inspiration to any garden enthusiast or designer, particularly if they look beyond first impressions. When you study the garden today, and the way that plants, stone and other features have been arranged, you cannot help but be amazed at the foresight shown by Sorenson and Van Velde.

This is a garden that was once a high maintenance property; but which can still survive and retain it’s essence even after those high levels of maintenance have been removed.

How many of us could cut the attention we give to our gardens by 75% and still have something that looks good?

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