How one family brought a bit of country to the city

When graphic designer Liz Knapp and husband Greg decided to make a sea change to Newcastle from their farm in Main Creek Dungog, they brought a bit of country life with them and the results are stunning.

Liz, a mother of two, and owner of design company Artful Scribbles, says she didn’t originally set out to re-create a country feel in her garden but plants that were dear to her, such as Gymea lilies, and an eclectic array of farming equipment and furniture came with them which helped to give this garden its relaxing rural atmosphere.


“When we moved here the kids were only little so our goal was to provide a backyard that offered opportunity for exploration as well as being productive,” Liz said.

“Our canvas was a typical Aussie backyard, flat, rectangular with a Hills Hoist in the middle,” she said. “Very humble beginnings!”

Liz claims an old mulberry tree was the garden’s only saving grace!

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So with the mulberry tree as their starting point, the Knapps worked from the back to front creating chook pens, a fort, a fish pond full of native Australian fish, an exploration bridge, a vegie patch and plenty of climbing opportunities for the kids.

A lot of elbow grease and an obvious dose of natural design flair and “voila”, here before us, is a garden that feels like a relaxing retreat!

What is inspiring about this garden is that there is a wonderful feeling of space from what is a relatively modest backyard. Whether intentional or not, Liz has created zones where separate activities take place. Old hardwood has been placed around the pond which you reach through the original Main Creek property farm gates. The vegie patch has a scarecrow and large mirrors have been placed along the fence line to reflect light and add a feeling of depth.

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Liz has been planting plenty of bee friendly plants throughout the garden and is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her Urban Hum beehive this Spring.

While only 1 km from Merewether Beach we felt we were a world away and left excited that:

1. Trampolines can blend into backyards (we know, hard to believe but true!) and

2. You are only limited by your own imagination.

Suburban backyards can be truly inspiring. It is possible to create habitat at home that is interesting and productive for insects, birds and the family alike!

P.S. We are very lucky to have had Liz create the Victory Gardens’ logo. It has helped us grow the concept of edible city gardening in the Newcastle CBD.


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