If you visit a garden on a gloomy morning after a rainy week, you can get lucky. We were when we visited Eryldene yesterday. The rain held off, mostly, and numbers were down, so we were part of a small tour of the ikebana exhibition in the elegant house and had the garden mostly to ourselves -- great when a pair of boys need to let off steam after being indoors the whole week!
It's one of Sydney's most famous gardens, and the house is the only unaltered example of William Hardy Wilson's domestic architecture. Hardy Wilson felt that the Georgian style of house (from our early Colonial period) was better suited to Sydney's climate than the Arts-and-Crafts style of his day, and with a house like this one can see his point. Eryldene has the lightness and symmetry of Georgian architecture, modernised for 1913 (which, of course, no longer seems modern to us!). The house still has the furniture the Waterhouses used, mainly 18th and 19th Century pieces with an airiness and delicacy that match the house. The proportions are delightful, and the house is complemented by the current ikebana exhibition. (While Professor Waterhouse's gardening fame rests on his detailed work on Camellias, his wife Janet was devoted to ikebana, so it was lovely to see so much of it in her house -- I am sure she would have loved it. )
View from a sleepout to the front garden. This sleepout is now part of a cafe run by the volunteers of the Eryldene Trust. I can recommend the (plunger) coffee and mixed cakes.
View to the side garden from the same sleepout. The Sprig declared this to be "just like a picture," and how right he is.
This temple, designed by Hardy Wilson, is on a side axis in the front garden -- plenty of formal symmetry in this garden...
... but informality too. This path is behind the temple and runs very close to the street boundary -- but you'd never guess while you're walking on it!
The camellia walk runs up the eastern side of the house, and the collection her will interest even non-camellia enthusiasts. (Isn't it funny how sometimes a genus can take hold of a person?) Note the little path off to the side: there are little side-paths throughout the garden, subverting the formal structure. My children are keen to see me replicate this idea at home. A pity we lack Eryldene's acre of ground!
Hardy Wilson designed several different structures in the garden over a long association with the Waterhouses. I love this walled fountain (1921), particularly the low bubbling jet in front. Note the Asian influence: both Hardy Wilson and EG Waterhouse were Sinophiles.
The tea-house, on the edge of the tennis court, was built in 1927. We'd call it fusion, these days.
Somehow, I've never felt entirely comfortable about this moon-gate. I know it's part of a tennis-court fence, but the metal tubing construction always seems wrong to me, no matter how practical it is.
I do love one other feature of Eryldene: camellia flowers floated in bowls of water throughout the garden. I don't know if it is typical of large gardens of the period, but it's pretty.
So is this formal path.
(And yes, that little structure in the background is what you think it is. When the house was built, the area was unsewered.)
Garden tool enthusiasts will be sorry to hear that The Old Mole is closing, as the people involved are retiring to other projects, particularly travel. However, Richard Bird was at Eryldene with his beautiful tools at sale prices, and I picked up a few of them. I'll show them off another time.