The 5th Heartkids Garden Tour was held on Friday 31 October 2014 on a sparkling Sydney day. It kicked off at our usual starting point at Eden Gardens where we enjoyed tea and coffee and an opportunity to reacquaint with attendees from prior years tours.

This year we had 120 guests, with the majority being repeat attendees. In fact we scarcely had to extend our advertising of the event beyond this group before we had the full complement of attendees we look for.

Thank you to Anna and Simon Ainsworth at Eden Gardens for hosting us at Eden again this year. It was also great to have Anna join the first part of the tour.

heartlands Kids tour 2014Balmain Garden

Our 3 buses headed off to the first garden full of expectation and excitement about what the day had in store.

The first garden was designed by Phil Ayling who is a Landscape Architect charged with designing a garden blending the older house with the more recent addition and providing a link with the proximate Ballast Point Park. Extreme care was also taken to protect and sustain the beautiful Corymbia citriodora that is a feature of the garden. Phil spoke to the audience about his concept and how he worked with his client to achieve a great outcome.

This garden was constructed by Bates Landscapes and Michael Bates also spoke of the detailed work required to achieve his tagline “beautiful gardens…. built to last”. The attention to detail and the outstanding tradesmanship was clearly evident in this lovely garden which has intriguing spaces to enjoy and which links beautifully with the house.

heartlands Kids tour 2014Randwick Garden

This is the home of Matt Cantwell and Rochelle Abood, the owners of Secret Gardens who graciously threw their home and garden open to 120 guests and hosted our morning tea break.

This garden highlights a fantastic use of space for Matt and Rochelle’s young family, while providing great entertaining space and room for adults to chill out and enjoy some quiet space.

The garden won the Alan Correy Award for Design Excellence awarded by AILDM in 2014 and you can see why; it is thoughtfully designed to retain some great old trees but it is also a modern space for contemporary living.

heartlands Kids tour 2014Morning tea was provided by Kay Knox, with assistance from Julie Jarman and other Alpine Nurseries staff and by Rochelle and Matt who made us feel at home, to the point we wondered if we could leverage our guests out of the comfy sofas.

Kay’s slice was again in abundance and helped make the event attain that home hospitality that we strive for.


The Rosebery garden was quite a surprise to our guests once we entered the rear garden by the long side path; the house goes on and on and is an intriguing piece of architecture.

The garden was designed by Daniel Baffsky from 360’ Landscape Architects, collaborating closely with owners Stuart and Sally who combine active careers with the rigours of raising their young family. This influenced the use of space to meet the brief for multi-use space for entertaining, relaxation and nutrition through the extensive veggie and fruit garden. This is elongated living in a very long block, a feature that has been carefully used to their advantage.

Sally really made us really feel at home and you could tell there is warmth and hospitality in this home.

heartlands Kids tour 2014LUNCH AT VAUCLUSE HOUSE

This was a great place for lunch with the gardens at Vaucluse House enhancing the overall experience for our garden and plant loving audience.

Over lunch Heartkids NSW CEO Dave Rose talked about the work of Heartkids and emphasised the fact that Childhood Heart Disease is the largest cause of death in children under 1 year and a problem that is not well understood by authorities and the general public.

Dave introduced Jenny Azzopardi who is Heartkids family support Coordinator at Westmead Hospital as well as working as a midwife and as a mother for her 5 children.

Jenny’s youngest child is a Heartkid so she knows the trauma of initial diagnosis and the uncertainty following major surgery on babies. Jenny sure leads a busy life and provided a practical insight into the care she provides new Heartkids parents and families.

heartlands Kids tour 2014BELLEVUE HILL GARDEN

The homeowners were here to greet us at this magnificent home and went out of their way to make this visit really special.

The garden is unique in the way it incorporates magnificent sculptures throughout the extensive garden that encircles the house. The owners certainly have a beautiful collection of eclectic sculptures that are just so well presented through the garden.

Christopher Davis designed the garden for this home and gave an insight into his original plans and some of the great sculptures that have been acquired over the years.

The garden is maintained by Ron Berkelmans from Good Manors and Ron has succeeded in making the garden meld around and show-off the sculptures so beautifully. It is also a practical garden with some challenging hedging work to maintain privacy and multiple living spaces for family members.

This house and garden will reside for a long time in the memory of attendees. It is all class and truly a one-off.

heartlands Kids tour 2014VAUCLUSE GARDEN

This is a huge property right on Sydney Harbour with spectacular views into the harbour and down to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

The original house was built in the 1840’s but a recent addition has further expanded the house in a style that is totally sympathetic with the original construction, while modernising some of the living spaces.

This is one of Sydney’s landmark homes and we were able to include it in the tour through the efforts of Daniel Baffsky who designed the extensive recent garden renovation that has taken place here. As Daniel observed there has been the addition of many very well established trees and shrubs over the last year but it is amazing that the new plantings have totally merged into the garden seamlessly.

The garden has great structure and many different and alluring spaces with patches of colour to set off against the harbour backdrop and, on our day, the rich blue sky.

heartlands Kids tour 2014Daniel also led us on a tour of the old tennis court that has been remodelled into a comprehensive fruit and vegetable garden with a charm all of its own. All the produce is doing fantastically well and even the chooks looked to be enjoying their space in this wonderful haven so close to the City.

Drinks and canapés were served here and the allure of the garden made it very difficult to extract our guests back on the buses for the return trip back to Eden Gardens.

In his concluding comments Alpine Nurseries CEO, Peter Knox, thanked all the designers and home owners who so graciously participate in this annual event, as well as Craig Rich and the team at Alpine who organise the event and are there through the day to make the event enjoyable for our guests. He also acknowledged the great support from the Heartkids team on the day and the organising skills of Lisa Chamberlin in preparation for the event.

The tour raised around $24,000 for Heartkids and we have now raised well over $100,000 for the charity from the garden tours. It is a great cause and one where we can make a difference.
We will be back next year and look forward to working with all our garden tour friends and supporters.