SMH – The New Australian Garden: Lessons in the Lure of Outdoors

By Megan Backhouse

“Think of all the ways you might lure people out of your house and into your garden and Michael Bates will be doing it. Layering plants, framing views, installing fire pits, introducing water, plumping up Afghan cushions.

This Sydney garden maker has just written a book called The New Australian Garden and if he had to summarise what such a garden was he would say it was a “living, breathing, growing” place that connects people to nature.

What it is not – just to knock this on the head at the outset – is any one style or plant type. Bates says anything goes in this garden so long as people are happy to dine, bathe and “hang out” in it. It has the same “gardens are for people” spirit espoused by the late, great Californian landscape architect Thomas Church.

In his new book, Bates describes 18 such gardens, all of which he has constructed, six of which he designed as well and two of which he owns.”