Last Christmas at Berrima I had only had the keys for about four weeks so my festive break was all about getting the interior to a livable state prior to the major renovations. This year the holidays were all about the garden. Two blissful weeks of getting organised, planting my side herb window boxes, gloating over my new pristine back lawn and planning my River Cottage style vegetable patch. Just over a year after Paul quoted me to terrace the backyard it actually happened and it was a five week transformation.

I look back now and remember the way it was with amazement. The block is long and narrow about 70 metres deep from the back patio and 20 metres across but sloping down towards the river so the drop from the top fence line to the bottom is around 2 metres. It was full of pretty interesting structures including a very large chook house, 3 ugly garden sheds, an old bathtub which Ronnie next door is transforming into a herbs oasis and a pond with a huge pine eighties style bridge spanning it. This was all at different heights on the downhill land so trying to actually use the backyard was problematic but what a blank canvas to work with.

The solution was to carve a huge flat lawn in the centre about 10 metres across and nearly the full length of the entire garden and support it with retaining walls on either side. The low wall created a long garden where all the tall trees can grow in natural sculpted way and the top garden is where the Cyrus Pines live. The high side is also the site of my future vegetable patch which gets sunlight all day, all year. Its all north east facing so the conditions are as good as they can be in the high altitude climate, shade for the half the day in summer and full winter sun.

It looks incredible, so much so that my nephew Alex calls it “Auntie Mandi’s fairway” perfect to practice his golf swing. Very soon my new kitchen and sunroom doors will open on to the beautiful deep green grass. The only decision left is where to put the volleyball net and to schedule my first cricket game. Rapthi has already decided it’s a Sri Lanka vs Australia match which seems fitting for Australia Day 2015.

I am as infatuated, as you can be, with my lawn. And the spa rocks too!