Arcadia Garden

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In northwestern Sydney Warren Naylor and Tim Higgins have created an Italian style garden, complete with buildings inspired by the villas of the great architect Palladio. When they purchased the property eight years ago it was a typical bush block covered with scrub. Hundreds of tons of soil were brought in to develop the foundations of the garden, but there was an abundance of high quality sandstone on the block. Warren, a 6th generation stonemason, and his late father Roly worked for nine months quarrying the stone, levelling an area for a tennis court and swimming pool and building a series of stone walls and pathways.

Andrea Palladio (1508-1580)

Palladio was one of the most influential architects in history. In his country houses or ‘villas’ he incorporated his own ideas along with principles he’d learned from studying past masters, including the classical Roman architect Vitruvius. He used three main elements in his work that are still relevant today: dramatic exterior motifs, economical materials and internal harmony and balance. Warren Naylor’s favourite holiday destination is the small town of Vincenza, just outside Venice, where dozens of Palladio’s buildings can be seen.

A gentleman’s country garden

Just as Palladio’s villas were built as magnificent but comfortable and functional summer homes, Tim and Warren aimed to build a ‘gentleman’s country garden’. The house is flanked by a guesthouse and shed in perfect symmetrical balance, similar to Venetian villas and their adjoining farm buildings called “barchessas”. The geometry and proportion of the architecture is complemented by clipped box hedges (Buxus microphylla), topiarised plants and the simple green and white colour scheme of the garden. The only flowering plants are white agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox).

Circa Studios

Palladio economised by building with brick and stucco instead of the traditional stone and marble, and inside the villas frescos were used instead of expensive tapestries. In a modern twist, Warren and Tim have furnished the garden with classical artefacts from France and England as well as garden tables, chairs, planters and fountains produced by their company Circa Studios under the name ‘Yardware’. The interior of the house is decorated with a mixture of genuine period pieces and wonderful reproduction furnishings that look just like the real thing but cost much less.

Further information

The fibreglass resin pot with rust finish costs $890. This pot and other reproduction items shown are available from: The Design Establishment, CDA Centre, 513 South Dowling Street, Surry Hills, NSW. Phone: (02) 8353 3888. Trade enquiries to Circa Studios. Phone: (02) 9310 2666.


The Palladio book shown is now out of print but there are several major books available on Palladio’s work, including:

Andrea Palladio by Bruce Boucher (ISBN 0789203006). Cost $80.
Palladio and Northern Europe by Guido Beltramini (ISBN 8881185245). Cost $79.95.