Wyer & Co’s Boulder House garden is an absolute rock star

There’s something wonderful about having a vision for a landscape and watching it come to fruition. That’s often the case for landscape designer Anthony Wyer with other people’s gardens, but buying a Sydney site with his wife Rebecca in 2015 gave him the chance to bring a dream to life for his own family for a change.
The couple could see the property’s potential from the start. With a European-villa-style dwelling at its core, it was ready for a new garden, “one that made use of the available space while simultaneously creating more,” says Anthony, founder of integrated landscape design practice Wyer & Co.

MAIN IMAGE This garden so effortlessly excels at creating a connection to the home that outdoor and indoor living practically become one. “I like to look at it as a continuation of the same story,” says Anthony. American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) winds its way up the pergola, while in the bed next to the fireplace, the paddle-like leaves of Heliconia Hot Rio Nights reach for the sky. ABOVE The pergola’s bamboo ceiling is attached to a Perspex screen that filters sunlight and keeps out rain. Together, the curved bamboo and linear timber create an air of casual elegance and offer visual warmth that’s enhanced by the veins in the custom marble-topped table by the home’s interior designer, Tamsin Johnson, and texture in the fireplace and flooring. Also decorating this outdoor room are (from left) an Alura chair by Royal Botania from Parterra with a Classics Fringe cushion by Lucy Montgomery, a J’ai Soif tumbler and carafe by Maison Balzac, a bowl by Sands Made, a Mama vessel by Katarina Wells from Curatorial & Co and wicker chairs from Conley & Co.

As Anthony crafted the layout, one factor he kept in mind was how it could work best for his and Rebecca’s children, Hugo (13), Darcy (11), Hazel (7) and Constance (6). “We added layers to it as our family grew,” he says. “For the latest iteration, the intention was to create an outdoor space that reflects us as a family.”
Balancing an elegant zone for entertaining with play areas such as the lawn and pool was key. Fine-tuned over the years, the landscape has been sculpted into outdoor rooms, each with its own objective. 

ABOVE Anthony says the planting at the front of the property — where a European olive tree (Olea euraopea) lives alongside an African candelabra tree (Euphorbia ingens) surrounded by native grass nafray (Pennisetum), and aloes Big Red and Aloe spinosissima front the street — is one of his favourite combinations.

The 130m2 front garden softens the square edges of the dwelling they dubbed Boulder House, its climbing vines striking against the pale, tiered walls. Another chic counterpoint, the tall 30-year-old olive tree was transported into place, immediately enhancing the home’s frontage with an elevated screen of dappled shade. Like a scene from a sunny Mediterranean day on the Amalfi Coast, a quaint patio calls for drinks in the afternoon sun. Adding to the charm, kentia palms blow in the warm breeze next to blooming bougainvillea. 

TOP A harmonious vignette is formed on a table in the cabana with a vintage Murano vase from Coley & Co and sculpture Mineral II by Stephen Ormandy from Olsen Gallery. The terracotta-tile flooring is heated underfoot. ABOVE A view of the cabana’s rooftop garden from the home’s informal living area. The cave-like structure is 6.3m wide, 1.5m deep and can accommodate up to 10 people.

If this outdoor room is a polite greeting on arrival, at 230m2, the back garden is where the fun happens. The home’s informal living area flows onto pergola-topped paving and, further out, the lawn, pool and cabana. It’s here where people naturally congregate.
Complete with a waterproofed bamboo ceiling and an outdoor fireplace, the pergola provides shade when it’s sunny and ensures comfort on cooler days. Warm-hued brickwork around the hand-built circular fireplace also offers a Mediterranean aesthetic.
Part of this garden’s charm is how it celebrates its natural elements, and none more so than in the cave-like cabana created from the sandstone boulder from which the house’s name is derived. “As I was clearing out the garden, the boulder came as a great surprise,” says Anthony. “The more I cleaned it up, the more significant it became. It’s a beautiful natural element that has become the keystone for the entire design.”

TOP Watched over by an Eagle sculpture by Humble Matter from Curatorial & Co, cushions from Tigger Hall Design and Lucy Montgomery soften the cabana’s built-in daybed, which curves around a planter housing a fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata). On the vintage coffee table from The Vault are a cup and plates by Sands Made, and a glass from Space Furniture. The original boulder can be seen protruding towards the pool. ABOVE “One area of the garden is much deeper than the other,” says Anthony. “I considered for some time how to convert it into usable space that would also accommodate our love of entertaining, and eventually it became the cabana. It involved major excavation works and engineering to ensure the structure was strong enough to hold soil and a garden on top.” The feature tree pictured on the left is Dracaena draco (top); Nerium oleander grows below it.

The interplay of texture in this garden make it a treat for the senses, with an array of silhouettes and scales engaging the eye. Anthony selected a blend of species to create the look — teaming formal hedging with large-leafed tropical plants, and bougainvillea with cacti. “It’s eclectic and a reflection of the evolution of our family,” he says. “That said, our focus has always been on balancing high-end pieces with functionality — we’re practical people.”
Having spent years turning his vision into a reality, Anthony says he has no further plans for these outdoor spaces, and now, “it’s all about taking care of the garden, watching it grow and reach its full potential.”
With its gentle sandstone, layers of lush greenery and spaces that support social ease, the Boulder House garden has a resort-like sensibility, placing cues taken from a Mediterranean summer within an Antipodean context. Interconnecting zones for relaxation and recreation put the emphasis on engaging with others — and that, after all, is what life’s all about.

TOP Kentia palms (Howea forsteriana) sway over the patio perched above the street, their toes tickled by silverbush (Convolvulus cneorum). This outdoor room is texturally complex, but expressed in a soothing, sunny colour palette that brings a feeling of ease and serenity. Among the items on the Re-Trouvé table by Patricia Urquiola for Emu (with matching chairs) is a Fia carafe by Nina Jobs from Top3 by Design and a marble bowl by Greg Natale. The limoncello-striped cushion is another by Lucy Montgomery. ABOVE Anthony searched from Queensland to Victoria for plants that would suit Sydney, which can be quite cold in winter, yet is very humid in summer. “The key to a successful garden is the plant selection — choosing the right group of plants for the theme of the garden and knowing that they’re going to work in that unique position,” he says. The succulents growing against the wall here are snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata).

Words Catherine Steel
Photography Anson Smart
Styling Claire Delmar

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