Winter lockdown is a chance to give the garden a good edit

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“You want to do this editing process not on the hop, but when you’ve got a moment to sit back and look at it,” says Bates, whose North Sydney garden is about to go on a reduction diet.

‘You want to do this editing process not on the hop, but when you’ve got a moment to sit back and look at it.’

Landscape designer Michael Bates

“For the last 10 years the garden has been about bringing things in; there are so many beautiful plants. But I’m going to have to get pretty serious this winter and do some editing of some big pieces.”

Bates is also working with Mayfield Gardens in Oberon to thin, edit and shift a few things. Mayfield Gardens is now 25 years old, the project of Garrick Hawkins, who, from the unpromising base of stone-studded paddocks, has created a large garden. The lower part of it is open to the public year-round, while the private family gardens are open to the public in both spring and summer for short festivals.

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“You need to overplant in the first place to establish and create a soil biota and all the systems that go to make an established garden,” explains Bates.

“So now some of the fast-growing trees planted at Mayfield to protect slower-growing plants need to be removed to allow the slower plants their space. In providing more sunlight and less competition you reshape places. In the process, some of the original design intent is being reinstated or rediscovered.”

Yet visitors to Mayfield are unlikely to notice what’s gone: as any writer, or gardener, will tell you, the best editing is invisible.

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