There is something comforting about this garden. From the chunky front gates to the table set into a spotted gum deck, there is much to like. I have to confess, though, that I am taken by most things minimalistic, and that includes landscaping.
From the street, a stout, wooden Anhui gate opens to a series of bluestone slabs that form a path leading to the main entrance of the house. To the left of this grand entrance is the wooden deck with its signature sunken table. “The decking is made of wood 35 centimetres thick,” says landscaper Stuart Griffiths, proudly. “The deck will still be here in 100 years.”
To the right of the entrance, a flagstone pathway (edged on one side by the brick wall of the house and, on the other side, by a mixed bed of perennial plants) leads to a sheltered side garden that used to be a children’s area. The flagstone area is wide enough to double as a patio, while the side garden is neat but bare now, and ready to be put to new uses.
Griffiths, who has been at the helm of Natural Style Landscaping for 15 years, renovated the garden of 2 Lovell Street, Hawthorn East, three years ago and turned it from one that the street enjoyed to one that gave greater pleasure to the house owner.
His guiding principles were simple but precise: privacy; functionality; and safety.
For privacy, the garden was enclosed with brush and slatted fences for variety and visual impact. For functionality he built the deck that becomes an extension of the dining room when the french doors separating the two are opened. And for safety, he installed flagstone pathways wherever they were needed. Garden lights ensure that the whole front yard can be used even after the sun goes down, Griffiths says.
During the renovation, established plants were moved only when necessary, while new feature plants, including Japanese maples and sacred bamboo (Nandina domestica) were introduced. Camellia, rhododendron and white daphne share the main garden beds with hellebores, irises and other perennials, making for low-maintenance borders.
When this garden was first renovated, it was featured in home-improvement publications. It has suffered some wear and tear since, but the framework is still classy and strong. A well-planned garden such as this is built to last, is resistant to fading, and would bounce right back with very little effort.
Walk on the wild side
Bushland plants, producing carpets of colour, usher in the Wildflower Festival at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, running until October 3.
Every Wednesday in spring, from 11.30am to 12.30pm, visitors can join a guided tour of the Australian Garden and learn how to grow Australian flowers. $6.50 adult, $5.20 concession.
There is also a conducted eco tour daily between 11am and noon that will show gardeners how to create a “bird, bug and bandicoot-friendly garden”. $6.50 adult, $5.20?concession.
Other highlights include:
- A talk on the secret life of orchids, Sunday October 3, 11am-noon. $6.50 adult, $5.20 concession.
- A guided tour on planting and caring for Australian natives, Sundays, October 3, 10, 16 and 17, 11am-noon. $6.50 adult, $5.20 concession.
- Botanical illustrators will be strutting their stuff on Sunday, October 3, from noon to 2pm in the Australian Garden.
Entry to the Australian Garden costs $9.80 for adults, $8.35 concession, while children under 16 can enter free. Entry to the Woodland Picnic Area is free. Special programs will also be conducted during the school holidays.
Bookings and more details are available on 5990 2245 and at www.australiangarden.com.au