A Sorensen Garden
Mahratta, possibly more than any other of Paul Sorensen’s major works, showcases his ability to combine exotic and native trees into a cohesive design. His usual range of exotics is very evident – cedars, maples, English oak, tulip trees and liquid ambar to name a few. To these he as added other conifers as well as jacarandahs and cape chestnuts.
With this considerable mix is a range of native trees, the leaves of which are mostly in rich glossy greens which blend with and add to the richness of foliage so evident in this garden. The native trees include the Queensland firewheel, macadamia, lillipilli, lacebark and Illawarra flame tree.
This generous variety of trees is used to articulate the spaces around the house and to provide a dense insulation from the two major thoroughfares which flank the property. The delightful underplantings of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias add further dimensions of texture and colour.
The sinuous red gravel drive, with its detailed brick edging and annual flower beds, divides the lawn as it sweeps toward the house where each side of the porte-cochere is marked by a dawn redwood.
A remarkable aspect of the garden are the sunken terraces to the left of the house featuring a rose garden and a lawn once used for putting and croquet. These two elements are proudly linked by a formal stairway canopied over by an artfully grafted weeping cedar.
The rose garden is is very formal in its layout and quite a departure from Paul Sorensen’s characteristic style. All the roses were original chosen by him and carefully located on a drawing with the exception of the central bed, perhaps leaving the honour of this choice open to another.
Approaching from the north, the elegant moongate and courtyard of the house provide the perfect substrate for a variety of ornamental climbers such as ivy and wisteria.
Listed with the Heritage Council of NSW since 1989, Mahratta represents perhaps the last major Sydney estate of its kind and is arguably the finest remaining example of Sorensen’s work in the metropolitan area.