There’s something special about spring in Canberra. It’s when the bush capital comes alive, from the wattles of Mount Ainslie to the tree canopies lining the streets of Red Hill and, of course, the thousands of tulips at Floriade.
A year-round longing for this spectacular time of the year was the inspiration for Susan Thwaites’ flourishing home garden.
Beautifully overgrown, it features pots upon pots of succulents, colourful flowers, creeping ivy and a thriving veggie and herb patch with drifting aromas of basil and tomatoes.
“I couldn’t imagine not having a garden, especially in Canberra,” Thwaites says.
But it has taken some work to get to the stage it has. When Thwaites and her husband, Tim Thomas, moved into their home at 38 Castlereagh Crescent in Macquarie, the garden was “in a sad state of affairs”.
“When we moved in, the garden didn’t really exist – it had been neglected,” she says. “There were raised beds but there was nothing in them, there was no grass and a really ugly shed, so I thought let’s start by getting rid of the shed.”
The removal of the shed made way for the crowning jewel of the garden. In place of the shed was a blank wall just calling out for a transformation so Thwaites employed her niece, Melbourne street artist “Goodie”, to change the drab wall into a masterpiece.
Goodie grew up in Canberra. Her Instagram is a weird and wonderful mess of abstract art, with a focus on peachy tones and the human form. The works are splashed across brick walls, and there are many three-dimensional pieces.
Usually known for her edgy art, Goodie was briefed to take a different approach to create an artwork that seamlessly blended with the environment and was happy to oblige for her aunt.
The result is a vibrant mural that is essentially an extension of the backyard. It gives the impression of a three-dimensional form, with the Brindabella ranges in the background and an array of spring-inspired flowers and plants in the foreground.
A painted white wall with a fountain and a red shed add other elements to the artwork and provide the illusion of the objects existing in the space.
“It was winter when we took the shed down and I wanted it to be permanently spring in the backyard,” Thwaites says.
“I wanted to have wattle because it is one of the first things that bloom at the end of winter.
“When you drive along Coulter Drive, you see the Brindabellas in the background and my husband, he loved and wanted that.
“The fountain is taken from my sister’s terrace house in Sydney which we quite liked.”
One of the special parts about the mural, for Thwaites, is the geraniums in the bottom left-hand corner.
“Goodie decided to add her own bit to the mural and that’s where the geraniums come from,” she says.
“I have three pots of geraniums on the side of the house which I love and nurture. She added them without even knowing how important they were to me and that was so lovely.”
The house epitomises Canberra’s mid-modernist architecture scene. Built in the late 1960s, it was designed by renowned architect firm Hancock, Courtney and Renfree.
Originally, it was a one-bedroom home but has been sympathetically extended, and now features three bedrooms. But the beauty of the home, like all well-designed homes, is it’s easily adaptable with a flexible floor plan that could allow for extra bedrooms or living spaces.
One of the highlights of the home is the circular staircase that stands in the middle of the home and winds up to what is currently the main bedroom.
For now, Thwaites and Thomas are leaving behind their beloved home, as they want to focus their energy on their South Coast home.
“It’s a very hard place to leave and I hope I don’t regret it in the years to come … but my heart is in the ocean,” she adds.
Price guide: High $700,000s to low $800,000s
3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car spaces
Auction: 1:30pm, March 16
Agent: Ray White Canberra, Andrew Lonsdale 0428 486 692