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Limestone and landscape construction by ANL in the Chinese Garden

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

limestone rock Australian Native Landscapes took on its most interesting and challenging project so far, the landscape construction of the Sydney Chinese Garden in Darling Harbour. Two types of limestone rocks were sourced for the project, feature limestone rocks and flat, horizontal limestone used for paving. One of the feature limestone rocks, placed by ANL in the middle of the lake, was originally called ‘Lizard Rock’ and is now affectionately referred to as ‘Dragon Rock’. It was sourced by ANL from Cumnock in Western NSW especially for the project.

Not content with winning the supply of rocks for and construction of the Chinese Garden itself, Patrick Soars and ANL’s landscape manager, left for China to observe first hand an authentic Chinese garden, modelled on a 500-year-old emperor’s garden.

Not only were they allowed into parts of China previously not permitted to be seen by outsiders, but they were given guided tours of emperors’ gardens, where they could make detailed observation of the construction details and finishes required. Latex moulds were taken of 500-year-old paving, which was later reproduced at Sydney’s Chinese Gardens. It has been widely stated that Sydney’s Chinese Garden is the most authentic outside China.

The construction of the garden was carried out under the toughest of conditions and involved placement of over 5000t of limestone rock, lake, paving and waterfall construction, all within an area of less than one hectare.

landscape design and construction chinese garden

This project, of all the Darling Harbour Bicentennial projects, was the only one finished on time and on budget. It was constructed in just eight months.

ANL subsequently won the LCA landscape construction of the year award in 1989 for what is arguably the best ornamental garden ever constructed in Australia. Unlike other major projects undertaken by ANL, this project saw the company responsible for every aspect of construction, from sourcing the rock to sub-surface drainage, lake construction, irrigation, electrical work and so on.

Australian Native Landscapes was the Winner Landscape Construction of the Year Award for Garden of Friendship Darling Harbour. The judges’ comments give an indication of the achievement of ANL in the construction of these gardens:

“The Chinese Garden of Darling Harbour represents a significant extension of the conventional landscape skills which might generally be considered the benchmarks by which landscape construction can be assessed.

landscape design and construction of the Chinese Garden

“In completing this highly successful project, it is clear that the constructor needed to bring into play both a basic and comprehensive knowledge of all facets of construction and a clear understanding of the Chinese landscape architects.

“The project clearly required innovation in method and approach to bring it to its present stage of completion. Its success in construction is displayed in the manner in which it has with withstood visitor pressure and abuse.

“The Chinese Garden represents one of the rare opportunities in landscape construction and design to explore techniques and gain results from which the whole of the landscape industry can benefit."

limestone for the Chinese Garden

Limestone rocks

Limestone rocks are in stock and can also be specially sourced by ANL:


Visit ANL's landscape design and construction of chinese garden album on facebookView our photo album of the Chinese Garden on Facebook:
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Landscape construction and project management.