This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Sweeping Country Estate Created From Dust

Gardens

Every aspect of this Hunter Valley project by Dangar Barin Smith is ambitious. From the hillside location, to the dry, clay-like conditions of the soil, designing a garden here presented a host of challenges. But nothing was more daunting than its scale.

Luckily, a solid partnership between client and designer has resulted in an enviable garden, perfectly suited to the site’s sprawling proportions. Sometimes, it really is possible to create something out of nothing!

22nd March, 2021

Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

Photos – Michael Wee.

Photo – Prue Ruscoe.

Photos – Prue Ruscoe.

Photo (left) – Michael Wee. Photo (right) – Prue Ruscoe.

Photo – Michael Wee.

Photos – Prue Ruscoe.

Aerial photo – Michael Wee.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 22nd March 2021

When revered Sydney Landscape Architecture & Design firm Dangar Barin Smith was brought on to this Hunter Valley project, there was not a  single tree on site. Now the property contains at least seven different species of mature, flowering trees – though that was not part of the client’s original brief.

‘I try to steer my clients towards what they’re capable of in terms of management, and then work backwards from there,’ explains project director, Will Dangar. The initial plan was for a lush and decorative planting scheme, flush with flowers and exotic species; but when it got down to the nuts and bolts of such a maintenance-heavy idea, a tree-dominant palette made the most sense.

And what a vision! Elegant cabbage tree palms frame the northern aspect while Port Jackson Figs (the same ones that line Sydney’s Centennial Park) create a sense of drama. Will calls them ‘legacy trees’, and confides it’s the only time he’s ever used them in a project as they can stretch to 30m wide!

Weeping willows fringe the dams, their drooping tendrils grazing the water surface, while flowering crepe myrtles are dotted throughout the property. A full-time gardener (one of Will’s former staff members!) has been employed to maintain the rolling estate.

This pared back but ambitious design took a year to complete, after construction had already begun on the house. The two lakes were a result of the need to re-level the property, and situate the house deeper into the site.

‘The house was a rundown weekender that didn’t capture the views,’ says Will. ‘So a big part of the job was changing the levels. We had to move a lot of earth around because the house was quite high out of the ground, and we needed to nestle it lower into the site.’

The dams hence served two purposes: aesthetic, and practical. The soil dug up to create the adjacent watering holes was used to even out the gradients around the house, and set the residence deeper into the hillside.

Aesthetically, the lakes add lushness and vitality to the otherwise dry and dusty Hunter Valley landscape. Bore water is pumped into the top lake to keep it full, while gravity then feeds the bottom lake from run-off.

The combination of sculptural trees and wide, serene watering holes creates a romantic, lush paradise here – a testament to the vision of the talented team at Dangar Barin Smith.

See more projects from Dangar Barin Smith here.

This Week

Shopping

The Ultimate Outdoor Furniture Guide

From sleek and chic to fun and playful, here are four different schemes for the outdoor dining situation of your dreams!

Architecture

A Traditional Queenslander Turned Multigenerational, Japanese-Inspired Home

Arcke architects lifted this Queenslander to accommodate a two-bedroom apartment underneath, and provide better connections to the outdoors
Amelia Barnes
  8 hours ago

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Trailblazing Curator, Shonae Hobson

Inside the day of Kaantju woman and curator of Indigenous art at the NGV, Shonae Hobson!
Sasha Gattermayr
  16 hours ago

Homes

Designer Anna Spiro’s Heavenly Island Home

The celebrated interior designer shares her relaxed yet luxurious Minjerribah/North Stradbroke holiday house.

Creative People

Creating Original, Ever-Changing Gardens With Kep Horticulture’s Andy Kepitis

Kep Horticulture founder Andy Kepitis talks how to create dynamic gardens, and his aversion to 'certain' plant palettes!

News

Melbourne's Futuristic New Gallery For Art + Science

Excitement is high – the latest museum in the international Science Gallery Network opens in Melbourne today!
Sponsored

Stays

Stay Off-Grid In A Tiny House, Or Restored 1890s Hut, On The One NSW Property!

Escape to one of two tiny houses or a restored 1890 hut at Wildernest, located on the edge of the NSW Southern Highlands.

Architecture

A Minimal Intervention Weatherboard Home Makeover

A Seddon weatherboard renovation by Circle Studio Architects that doesn’t erase its past, but firmly enhances its future.

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design -...
Haroula Karapanagiotidis

News

Save Soho Rose Farm!

Donate to help save Victoria’s most beautiful field-grown roses, after a devastating hail storm. 

Studio Visit

The Graduate Designer Pushing The Limits Of Traditional Furniture Design

Brigitte Owers-Buccianti is the designer behind Real Non-Real, an exciting new practice making multi-functional furniture pieces.

News

WIN A One-Of-A-Kind Artwork By Local Artist Dave Kulesza - aka Boris Bombay!

Bombay Sapphire are giving away a nostalgia-fuelled, pop art-esque tiled artwork by Boris Bombay (aka Dave Kulesza) to one lucky winner!
Sponsored

On The Market

The Perfect Mid-Century, NSW South Coast Beach House Is For Sale

This mid-century Mollymook Beach house is perfect in its proportions, feel and water views... and it's on the market!

Family

Artist Miranda Skoczek On Single Parenting, Smelling The Roses + Spontaneity

Artist Miranda Skoczek shares her multigenerational family life in the Dandenongs with son Harper and aunt Margaret.

Homes

The Experimental Melbourne Home Of Two Artists

The 'warped maximalist colour feast' home of artists Nabilah Nordin and Nick Modrzewski in Newport, Melbourne.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Magical Family Garden As Productive As It Is Pretty

The lush suburban garden of passionate self-taught gardener Anastasia Elias - created from scratch in under two years!

Gardens

A Landscape Designer's Own Sumptuous Green Wonderland

Sam Crawford has been tending to her symphonic garden in the Macedon shire for the last 8 years. Step inside her paradise!
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Dreamy, Generous Coastal Garden

This Mollymook property's incredible front garden by Dangar Barin Smith has inadvertently become a local tourist destination.

This Week

News

Save Soho Rose Farm!

Donate to help save Victoria’s most beautiful field-grown roses, after a devastating hail storm. 

Creative People

Creating Original, Ever-Changing Gardens With Kep Horticulture’s Andy Kepitis

Kep Horticulture founder Andy Kepitis talks how to create dynamic gardens, and his aversion to 'certain' plant palettes!

Homes

The Experimental Melbourne Home Of Two Artists

The 'warped maximalist colour feast' home of artists Nabilah Nordin and Nick Modrzewski in Newport, Melbourne.

Homes

Designer Anna Spiro’s Heavenly Island Home

The celebrated interior designer shares her relaxed yet luxurious Minjerribah/North Stradbroke holiday house.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life With Trailblazing Curator, Shonae Hobson

Inside the day of Kaantju woman and curator of Indigenous art at the NGV, Shonae Hobson!
Sasha Gattermayr
  16 hours ago

Words From The Wise

Pushing Against The Status Quo As A Creative Professional, With Designer Timothy Moore

Sibling Architecture director and co-founder Timothy Moore shares refreshing advice about embarking on a career in architecture and design -...
Haroula Karapanagiotidis

Family

Artist Miranda Skoczek On Single Parenting, Smelling The Roses + Spontaneity

Artist Miranda Skoczek shares her multigenerational family life in the Dandenongs with son Harper and aunt Margaret.

Shopping

The Ultimate Outdoor Furniture Guide

From sleek and chic to fun and playful, here are four different schemes for the outdoor dining situation of your dreams!

Studio Visit

The Graduate Designer Pushing The Limits Of Traditional Furniture Design

Brigitte Owers-Buccianti is the designer behind Real Non-Real, an exciting new practice making multi-functional furniture pieces.

News

WIN A One-Of-A-Kind Artwork By Local Artist Dave Kulesza - aka Boris Bombay!

Bombay Sapphire are giving away a nostalgia-fuelled, pop art-esque tiled artwork by Boris Bombay (aka Dave Kulesza) to one lucky winner!
Sponsored

Stays

Stay Off-Grid In A Tiny House, Or Restored 1890s Hut, On The One NSW Property!

Escape to one of two tiny houses or a restored 1890 hut at Wildernest, located on the edge of the NSW Southern Highlands.

On The Market

The Perfect Mid-Century, NSW South Coast Beach House Is For Sale

This mid-century Mollymook Beach house is perfect in its proportions, feel and water views... and it's on the market!

Architecture

A Traditional Queenslander Turned Multigenerational, Japanese-Inspired Home

Arcke architects lifted this Queenslander to accommodate a two-bedroom apartment underneath, and provide better connections to the outdoors
Amelia Barnes
  8 hours ago

News

Melbourne's Futuristic New Gallery For Art + Science

Excitement is high – the latest museum in the international Science Gallery Network opens in Melbourne today!
Sponsored

Architecture

A Minimal Intervention Weatherboard Home Makeover

A Seddon weatherboard renovation by Circle Studio Architects that doesn’t erase its past, but firmly enhances its future.

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Magical Family Garden As Productive As It Is Pretty

The lush garden of self-taught gardener Anastasia Elias - created from scratch in under two years!

Gardens

A Landscape Designer's Own Sumptuous Green Wonderland

Sam Crawford has been tending to her symphonic garden in the Macedon shire for the last 8 years.
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Dreamy, Generous Coastal Garden

This Mollymook property's incredible front garden by Dangar Barin Smith has inadvertently become a local tourist destination.

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.