see sydney nutcote house may gibbs

Mon 13th, May, 2013

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Morning Beach Cottage lovelies, want to come to an English style garden and house slap bang in the middle of Sydney on a beautiful Autumnal day?  Come on in, let’s go.


So, back in the new year I decided that this year was the one for me to get out and travel more, I have definitely done that already, but, really, what I also wanted to do was to get out and see more of this beautiful city of Sydney, learn some more of the history and really just soak it all up.

It was a beautiful weekend for it and we ended up at a lovely little house with quite a nice view in the back garden…


It seems you have to make time for these visits – with 3 kiddos and a busy life time just marches on and what with all the sport at the weekends, having friends over, catching up with things in the garden etc etc, another weekend whizzes by, we find ourselves in May and there has been not much exploring.


This weekend I wanted to change that and originally had planned to go to a farm, then I looked into visiting a historic house and or gardens (I really wanted the garden bit)… I asked on my Facebook page lovely Beach Cottage people where was a good place to go in Sydney and got many recommendations, thanks to all of you who replied, the places mentioned are on my bucket list for sure.

However after I had researched a place I loved the look of something cropped up with one of the kiddos and the daytrip turned into an afternoon trip and so I had to look for an alternative which was a bit closer and not such an expedition.

And up popped Northcote House and oh how glad I am it did.


Rather than a fandabbydozy fancy house we were off to see an English style garden and a house built in 1920s with a Mediterranean feel and restored to the era of the 1930s.


So up my alley and I had a lovely time walking around the gardens and looking at the beautiful flowers…

Hello lovely old mossy steps…


Be still my beating vintage heart.

The gardens are lovely, not fancy or formal but just like an Englishwoman in Sydney’s cobbled together garden would be from a bygone era – a mix of what I would call more English plants mixed in with Australian natives.

Here’s Mr BC taking in the view…oh to have Sydney Harbour at the end of one’s garden – ummm I am thinking I will seriously need a lottery win or someone to donate oh millions of dollars for an apartment overlooking this.

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This is the house of May Gibbs, Australian illustrator, you can find out more about her here  – Australia’s foremost children’s author and illustrator and best known for her iconic story The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie.

The house was built in 1924 to her specific design (no photos are allowed inside but it’s beautiful if a little strange – each room leads to the other without any corridors, she didn’t like them and her kitchen, designed for her makes mine look massive because she hated to cook).

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The garden is very English country in style, I haven’t seen that for a while…and filled with flowers like roses, fuschias and lots of bulbs and lovely old trees…

I love fuchsias, they really remind me of the Old Country and another thing I have yet to have too much success with here – I had exactly this fuchsia in both of our gardens in England – these trailing in a hanging basket or six outside a country pub is a sight I had forgotten…

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Overlooking this it was fabulous to see…


It really gave me so so much hope for my garden (even though my soil is different) …there were roses all over the place, though, none sadly in bloom at this time…I worked out that the roses that are thriving were growing in the West of this garden, which is, by luck, where I planted the roses in my garden that have grown very slowly and produced a few flowers but not too many…however I think my problem might be the shade from some cordylines (and perhaps these sucking the life out of the soil) so I am going to do a bit of work on these roses and see what happens….


These signs also made me remember that my bulbs have not gone in yet, they’ve been hiding in the bottom of the fridge – Autumn is nearly over so it’s going to be a late bloom for me this year – what sweet hand-painted signs, I wonder if I could teach Barls to read?

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May got a lot of her inspiration from the garden and drew pictures of her characters and illustrated her stories from walking around her garden and being inspired by nature…


This is me under the lemon tree where May’s husband sat all day in his later years soaking up the sun – if you’ve ever sat warmed by the Australian sun as the Earth begins to turn the Southern Hemisphere to Winter, with the most divine sky that can only be Aussie, by the side of a lemon tree, you’ll know just how wonderful that feels….sigh…I have dreams that one day the lemon tree I planted last year will look something like this…


I could have sat here for a long time, with a cup of tea and a slice of Victoria Sponge….

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All of this contrasted with these huge Australian trees and the stunning blue of this vast sky.

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A bit of lusting over vintage watering cans…I did ponder if anyone might notice me taking one home…best not methinks..

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This is one of the best things about the garden for me, apart from learning about this inspiring woman living ahead of her time…

This plant was stunning…


I wasn’t sure what it was and a quick Instagram / Facebook question seems it is a Chinese Lantern…absolutely beautiful and I will be looking out for one of these to plant in my garden…this was also planted on the Western side and indeed it was quite shady here…not sure what they prefer yet but I will be looking into it…

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That’s it from my little visit to an English garden in Sydney.

I am so glad with what I am finding all around me, the next trip is planned – with the internet it’s actually quite amazing what you can find on your doorstep…

Have you delved under where you live lately?



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21 Responses to “see sydney nutcote house may gibbs”

  1. Antonio Sita says:

    Thanks for sharing some wonderful photographs. The next time I an in Sydney, I must make sure to visit ‘Nutcote’, the gardens seem so enchanting.

  2. Glad you had a gorgeous mothers day. xx

  3. krissie says:

    what took you so long to discover this wonderful place?? I’m form perth and we have been there several times! lol! Another enchanting place and in total contrast to this place is the Chinese garden in Darling harbour… but beware, the entrance is guarded by a friendly komodo dragon!

    • sarah says:

      yep thanks Krissie, I have been to the Chinese Garden but had never heard of this little house, such a lovely visit!

  4. The brick path in the garden totally stole my heart. I really need one… It just says “English garden” to me.

    • sarah says:

      I know, me too! it was quite surreal to me, such a totally Australian day with the blue sky and the colours and the harbour butting up to the garden and then all the little English bits…stole my heart….my kids thought I was a lunatic but hey ho at least I know what I like lol x

  5. MDN says:

    What wonderful pics of what appears to be both an amazing and whimsical place (in time)! Of late, I seem to be drawn to things art deco and/or art nouveau. Can’t you just imagine what a personality May Gibbs must have had? If only to have been able to have a long visit with her as one lingered over a leisurely tea…Oh, my!

    Thank you for the link…checked out info about her and also viewed her illustrations and pics of the house’s interior! Re the gardens: delightful!

    PS – Didn’t realize that fusia could be grown in England, as I always had thought them to need weather more tropical in nature. Your fusia pic is astounding!

    You’ve spurred me to take in some gardens here that I’ve always thought about – but haven’t ever done! Thanks for this wonderful trek!

  6. Alice says:

    Oh thank you for that Sarah…. What a beautiful place. I am going to have to make a trip there (I have been living here almost my whole life and I still know so little about Sydney). Those fuchsias! I never knew the proper name… I use to know them as the queens earrings which is what my grandmother used to call them whenever she saw me playing with them. I used to pretend they were pretty princesses dancing at a ball…
    Those orange lantern flowers are very beautiful too… Lately I have been loving the color orange. It is very strange because I used to really not like it ( hate is too strong of a word to use for a color). There is something so charming about English gardens… My favorite by far!

  7. Marti says:

    How fun! Thanks for sharing your adventure, beautiful!

  8. One word…..BEAUTIFUL!

  9. Jo says:

    Just FYI – I’ve heard Chinese Lanterns are very invasive so you should plant them where they have plenty of room. They are lovely tho. As are your gorgeous photos. You sure make me want to visit Australia.

  10. Shar Y says:

    Wow, that was great. I had not heard of the Chinese Lanterns before but the same day I saw your insta photo, an FB friend posted one growing in her backyard here in Texas. Strange that at different seasons, same plant is growing and blooming in Texas and over there where you are!!

    That harbor view was just awesome!!

  11. alison says:

    I never knew Nutcote had Harbour views. Thank you for our arm chair visit.


    Australian Autumnal skies…aaahhh

    Bulbs peaking through the soil…aaahhh


  12. jo says:

    What a lovely day out for you both. I really like the idea of exploring the backyard of my town ( Adelaide)… hmmm not sure where I’m going to investigate this weekend, but you have got me thinking. Thanks Sarah. :)

  13. Tamara says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous garden – and that view!! Like dying and going to heaven! I too love the Chinese Lantern plant…. don’t suppose it would do too well in the UK in a very windy garden….. will Google! Beautiful photo’s, stunning sky X

  14. Chookie Inthebackyard says:

    You might also see the Chinese Lantern marked as Abutilon, the genus.
    i love May’s house and garden! Did you see the bold bad Banksia Men down near the water?
    When I was last there, they showed a film about the botanical aspects of May’s work — there’s a reason all her plants are recognisable: she had the heart of a botanist, so everything is accurate (well, apart from the fact that the plants are people!). You can go into local bushland even now and find all the flowers she drew.
    One story we heard was of some visitors who were surprised to smell an appetising stew when they arrived, for May was famously undomesticated. When the meal arrived, they got sandwiches… the meat was for her dog!
    The Spanish Revival house was designed by BJ Waterhouse who designed a number of homes in this area. Here is the ADB article:
    If you haven’t been to see it, I think you will love Eryldene, the house and garden of EG Waterhouse (no relation) in Gordon.

    • sarah says:

      thanks so much for the link to the house in Gordon, no I hadn’t heard of it, and yes I will love to go – in fact I am planning my next trip out to visit a house so it might well be this one…

      I loved the banskia, and I found May’s story fascinating and interesting especially her love of flora and how it influenced her work – and to be living like that in those times, truly inspirational xox

  15. Jo says:

    Here in Connecticut USA…it’s been cold, windy and raining. I live at the beach and it feels more like October than late May! Just looked at the photos of your trip and they’ve warmed my heart. Thanks so much for your great blog! And oh, those mossy steps! Just gorgeous.

    • sarah says:

      thanks so much for the blog love, glad you like this little corner of the web and I hope your weather cheers up soon!