Heidi and Sam's wonderfully rambling Southern Highlands garden is a showcase for the sculptures, ornaments and furniture that the couple craft from clay, steel and found objects. Plantings from bottlebrushes, succulents and buddleia to lilacs, crabapples and valerian set the scene for the couple’s artworks, such as Heidi's unique ‘story’ panels, crafted in steel and then powdercoated. The red one on the side of the garage chimes with the similarly made steel bench, which is dotted around with tiny ceramic toadstools, also made by Heidi.
A row of totems screens a series of clay figures climbing across the side of the garage. “When I made these it was a very windy day and the leaves were going crazy,” recalls Heidi. “They remind me of that windy craziness.”
An ancient dining table, covered with a pink Batik tablecloth handmade by the Bai people of China’s Yunnan province, available from Mandarin Swing (mandarinswing.com), provides the perfect setting for lunch. Beyond, pieces made by Sam using found objects, like the fire pit created from an old 1100-litre gas bottle, stand alongside Heidi’s works, like the ceramic and steel seaweed sculpture that divides the patio from the lawn.
Heidi’s tall, pod-shaped water fountains, framed by a sea of buddleia and mint, were inspired by a trip to the desert. “While we were out there I gathered bags of dirt and red dust which I put into the clay,” she says. Sam’s rusted-steel tree, beside them, is home to a pair of Heidi’s ceramic magpies.
Time to reflect
Silvery-leafed lamb’s ears and fragrant mint provide a verdant backdrop to a secluded corner of the lawn, the perfect place to take stock for a few minutes while gardening.
Established fruit trees such as lemon and plum shroud the treehouse and cast dappled shade over the lawn and amply stocked flowerbeds, which spill over with a vibrant array of valerian, hydrangeas, agapanthus, forget-me-nots, seaside daisies, dahlias and peonies. Carol, a prize-winning sculpture Sam constructed from recycled pieces including a lawnmower blade and an old rake, keeps watch over the garden from her position on the garden bench.
Heidi’s tomato toppers are a colourful way to hold supports for plants such as tomatoes, peas and beans. “My welding teacher had the idea for the bottom bits and I stuck the tops on them,” she explains.
Sunflowers crafted by Sam liven up the vegetable garden. “I love recycling things,” says Sam. “I love having piles of it and putting it together – it generally just falls in place.”
Heidi’s ‘story’ gates, panels and benches are made to order in powder-coated steel.