Mandy was born and raised in Tamworth and Hamish came from New Zealand. Prior to their move to Tenterfield the couple lived at Ebor on a National Park owned property, so having a garden was not an option. When a position in National Parks became available in Tenterfield, Hamish applied.

We rented this house for six months and when it came on the market, we bought it. It came with five acres. We sold four. I started a mowing business and was mowing eight to 10 lawns a day. I brought home the grass clippings and had a pile of them for five years. The property had casuarians (river oaks) and six pinus radiatas and that was it. We fenced and commenced the garden. Hamish did the muscle work, instigating the hard structures such as the steps,” Mandy recalls.

The couple had travelled widely looking at gardens for inspiration. When the time finally arrived when they could design their own garden, Mandy and Hamish had a joint vision.

“I would lay out the hoses to define the shapes of our beds and when Hamish came home he would have a look and tell me if he thought it would look good. You always make some mistakes and have to change things. The first thing we did was to put in the big trees like the ornamental pears. The Manchurian pears have beautiful foliage and are so tough. We planted trees on the west side to keep the house cool,” Mandy explains.

Mandy and Hamish’s garden is a striking blend of colour and shape. Hamish is the master shaping the topiaries at the back and trimming the rosemary hedge which is near the front. Hamish also built a wisteria arbour. There are eight rainwater tanks for the garden supplying about 70,000 gallons (approx 265,000 litres) of water.

“I make sure there is no bare soil to drain out all the moisture. I mulch quite heavily after good rain. I don’t fertilise but the lucerne mulch I use works as a fertiliser.”

“I don’t use weedicide either. A 60 metre, seven foot high fence blocks the western heat, helping create a micro climate in a sheltered garden. I plant perennials and many of my plants reseed,” Mandy says. Her two mini German schnauzers are relaxing beside her as she talks.

The White Cottage houses Mandy’s nursery and antiques business and is located in a direct line from the driveway. Starting out as a just a Colourbond tiltadoor shed for storing spoilt lucerne, it has been extended and beautified with stained glass windows at the front.

“I love old things and have collected them over the years. I brought over furniture and other treasures from the UK in a container. I also love being in my garden. I came to thinking that plants and vintage wares go well together and so I have brought them together here,” Mandy smiles.