As the Japanese tradition of Zen gardens demonstrates, a large space is not essential for a successful garden. Although inner city gardens often don't have the rambling space of properties like Culliton and Wright's, they can employ a compact aesthetic that involves stacks of potted plants, carefully constructed paving, walls and wooden panels to create a similar place of sanctuary. A long-time fan of Zen gardens, Mylyn Nguyen uses her serenely constructed inner city Sydney garden as direct inspiration for her drawings and sculptures. In Nguyen’s work, tiny human figures interact with dream-like, moss covered creatures and handmade insects which seem as though they would not be out of place living amongst the plants in her bamboo lined garden.
"I always try to make work that evokes the concept of 'small but big'," Nguyen says. "I think that's why I like moss and insects. Compared to us, they are so tiny, but they have such a presence that with them, a house is a home. The themes in my work are sometimes a little fantastical, but I always have an element of plant life in my work. Plants are real and exist in every dimension/story, they give a truth to my works."