EBEN GOWRIE WATERHOUSE bought land at Gordon in Sydney's northern suburbs to build a family home. He chose William Hardy Wilson to design the house as he was impressed with the architect's previous work particularly his aesthetic sense and his interest in shadow and textures.
The house was begun in 1913. This began a twenty three year association between Waterhouse and Hardy Wilson which saw the creation of the garden and its many structures. A garden study and a walled fountain were built in 1921 followed by a tool shed and pigeon house in 1922, a Chinese-inspired tea house in 1927 and a bold lattice screen and garage in 1936. A temple in the front garden was built at the same time as the house.
The house and garden symbolise a genteel way of life, tranquil, devoted to culture, beauty, and good taste.
Eben Gowrie Waterhouse was born in Sydney in 1881. He was Master of Modern Languages at Sydney Grammar School then Senior Lecturer in Modern languages from 1913 to 1925 at Sydney Teachers College. He became firstly, Associate Professor then Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Sydney until his retirement in 1945
He was fluent in German, French and Italian and in his eighties began studies in Japanese, becoming sufficiently proficient to 'talk camellias' with Japanese experts.
He undertook research into the origin of the camellia, its culture and nomenclature resulting in the camellia regaining popularity in Australia. His work brought him international acclaim and respect. He co-founded the Australian and New Zealand Camellia Research Society and wrote two books on camellias, Camellia Quest in 1947 and Camellia Trail in 1952. He founded the well known Camellia Grove nursery at St Ives in 1939. He was a member of the board of the International Camellia Society for many years.
He was also influential in the fields of art, architecture, horticulture and design. During his lifetime Eryldene became a lively centre for discussion attracting many well known artists, writers, architects and designers as well as Vice-Regal visitors and diplomats. He was elected a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1938 and was its president from 1960-62. He died at 96 on 17 August 1977.
A book on his full and interesting life, E G Waterhouse of Eryldene, by Mary Armati is available from the Eryldene gift shop.
Janet Waterhouse had a Masters degree in Modern Languages from Glasgow University. Her love of gardening was acknowledged when she was elected vice president of the Garden Club of Australia in the 1950s. She had a great appreciation of the artistic qualities of plants which she followed through the study of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.
She was founding president of the Sydney Chapter of Ikebana International in 1959 and her artistic sensitivity made her a great ambassador of the art.
The Waterhouses had four sons all of whom had distinguished careers.
Gordon (1913–1986) was a horticulturalist and with his father established Camellia Grove Nursery in St Ives.
Douglas (1916-2000) was an entomologist and for many years chief of the Division of Entomology, CSIRO, Canberra
Evan (1919-1970) founded Bellbird Books
Ian (1921-2013 ) was Foundation Professor of Psychology and head of the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University.