LOW-maintenance garden design meant Kim and Jill Robinson of Westlawn won a national gardening competition, even after serious injury.
"It's been a bit of a struggle since Kim was hit by a car two years ago, but the garden pretty much looks after itself," Jill Robinson said.
The Robinsons' tranquil sanctuary of tropical plantings features in a four-page spread in the current Autumn Decorating Special of House & Garden magazine.
Lush plant choices, clever use of accent colour and a creative transformation of a former swimming pool won them the Medium Garden category in the magazine's Garden of the Year competition.
Many garden lovers will have toured the Robinson garden in Westlawn, as it has won the Jacaranda Champion Garden in past years.
"When you are in the garden, it doesn't feel like you are in a Grafton backyard; it's a serene sort of place," Mrs Robinson said.
Recent temperature measurements found their shaded seclusion delivered them an environment 10 degrees cooler than neighbouring gardens.
A pool "wasted once the kids grew up" was transformed by cutting down the sides of the pool to create a small pond, now home to koi and goldfish with plantings disguising the harder-edged beginnings.
While low maintenance now, the hard work was completed 15 years ago, creating what is now a canopy of palms. These shade a dense understorey where bromeliads, crotons and cordyline rubra provide vivid colour accents.
Fuchsia pink accents have been used to striking effect on many of the hard garden sur-faces.
"I won't say it has been easy, because I work fulltime, but we used to spend every weekend doing different things and didn't go out much," Mrs Robinson said.
"Just being able to walk out there after work and take a breath takes you to a totally different environment."
A long-time fan of House and Garden magazine, she "decided to give it a shot and much to my amazement we won".