When yoga teacher Gabrielle Moore, and her husband Stephen, moved to their Bexhill garden, in Northern New South Wales thirteen years ago, it was planted with trees ‘popular in the eighties’. Both a Golden Rain tree, and an African Tulip tree, now known as weeds, have been removed, but the poinciana and leopard trees remain. “I wouldn’t have planted the leopard tree where it is but we work with it”, Gabrielle says. Its canopy, and the poinciana provide protection for the shade lovers in the entrance garden.
With shady spots, filtered light and pathways, it’s Gabrielle’s favourite section – partly because she can potter for hours out of the sun.
Gabrielle planted some of the trees she’d become familiar with when living in Lismore: Brachychiton bidwillii, Ivory Curl trees, (Buckinghamia celsissma), sysygium and Atherton oak are some of the smaller, shallow rooted Australian trees better suited to a home garden. Fern leaved tamarind (Sarcotoechia serratais) is a favourite of Wompoo Fruit doves that love to nest in them.
When you wind your way to the other side of the home the landscape is a complete contrast. The view north spans valleys and hills across neighbouring farmland to national parks in the distance. So not to impede this aspect, planting is confined to the lower sections below an expansive lawn.
It’s here Gabrielle has concentrated on mainly Australian natives, although exotics are welcome of course – especially when they attract more birds to her garden. “I’m planting more prickly shrubs for little birds to give them more protection,” she says.
On the front lawn is also “the best ‘Man Shed’ ever” – Steve’s very own observatory. Although he’s actually a physician, Steve ‘moonlights’ as an amateur astronomer, and has completed a Masters degree in astronomy. Gabrielle says when he retires, he’ll be very busy – especially with his astro photography. His photos remind her of Monet’s paintings. “For men, the observatory is such an entrée into a conversation.”
For Gabrielle, watching plants respond in her delightful subtropical garden is her constant pleasure.