Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 24 Autumn 2010 Contents 182 INSITE AUTUMN
OUTDOOR FAMILY DESIGN
"It wasn't a big space, so it was really
important the design was interactive..."
scooters down there at night-time, they're
running the gauntlet!" Matthew laughs.
While battling ghosts and earning bravery
badges is great fun and certainly a crowd-
pleaser, Matthew has also incorporated more
peaceful forms of garden interaction. A range
of white pots, varying in size, is filled with
herbs and vegetables that the children love
tending to. is also involves them in the
garden and, potentially, dinnertime, too.
"It's a really good thing to do each
spring," says Matthew. "Every spring we
reinvent the space and teach the kids what's
what -- you tell them to bring you some
parsley and they'll bring you back chives,
but they really enjoy it."
e tomatoes have taken some specific
training: the Cantwell children find it too
hard to resist the plump fruit and launch
into them while still green. However, this
summer just gone Matthew trained them to
hold off and juicy red tomatoes finally
featured in the family's salads.
Despite Matthew and Rochelle's
dedication to their children's enjoyment of
the garden, throughout the design phase
Matthew admits there were a few touches
thrown in purely for resale; eventually, the
Cantwells will sell for a bigger property.
"I had a few grand ideas, but just because
I can doesn't mean I should," he says. "To
get return on your investment, you need
to be smart about it."
In particular, the garden's water features
were added into the design with on-selling
in mind, whereas Matthew would have
enjoyed adding a sculpture.
"You don't want to do anything too out
there or over-structured," says Matthew.
"It's good to predict what the next owners
will like and we'll save the crazy stuff for the
big property later on."
In the meantime, the kids use the cleverly
designed water feature in the back garden as
a swimming pool replacement on a hot day.
Green glass tiles create the backdrop, while a
large tray at the top fills and tips water over
the edge before splashing down onto the
child-safe grill that lies across the bottom. At
night, the feature is lit up and, combined
with the soothing sound of running water,
makes a sensational dinner-party
soundtrack for the adults.
Sounds perfect? If there were one thing
Matthew would change or incorporate in his
next garden, it's more space for the older
members of the Cantwell clan.
"It would just be nice to have a garden
big enough so the kids have their zone and
the adults have their zone, so it could be a
bit more ready-to-use at times," says
Matthew. "We've got every piece of plastic
paraphernalia and three children make a lot
mess, so what you see in the photographs is
rarely what my garden looks like!"
However, the inner-city pad still provides
plenty of enjoyment for young and old
because, at the end of the day... "I do love
seeing a garden that gets used and our kids
can't wait to be let out the back door." I
Secret Gardens of Sydney (02) 9314 5333,
PLAY PEN: Water fills up at the top of this water feature and splashes onto the kids, who can stand on the grate below.
(top) A dynamic sculpture, Limits by Melbourne-based Lump Sculpture Studio (www.lump.tps1.com.au), adds a design
element to the backyard. Greenery is Smart Grass (an artificial grass), buxus hedging and star jasmine.
Steal Matthew's tips for a family space.
CREATE a multi-level garden with steps, layered
decking, built-in seating and ramps.
GROW an edible garden... herbs are great for
introducing your children to the ideas of a produc tive
garden and fresh produce. Who knows: it might even
inspire them to eat their greens!
STAGGER pots and plant beds to create obstacle
courses for the kids to race around.
INSTALL a childproof water feature the kids can splash
about in on a hot day if there's no room for a pool.
INCLUDE a large co ee table in a shaded area where
the kids can set up an art and craft station or have a
special picnic lunch or dinner.
LAY plenty of hard surfaces where kids can entertain
themselves with bouncy balls, bike riding or even good
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