This calming coastal garden seamlessly matches its natural landscape

This calming coastal garden seamlessly matches its natural landscape


Drawing its inspiration from nearby sand dunes, this calming coastal garden has a strong sense of place

The world’s best gardens have a sense of belonging. They look and feel as if they naturally evolved in that place. Intertwined with that sense of place are the aspirations and personalities of the owners. Just as importantly, the most successful gardens are places for living. Picturesque views that can be enjoyed from inside the home aren’t enough — the garden has to entice you outside.

This beguiling garden in Rye on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula ticks every box. It draws on the nearby sand dunes and indigenous coastal plantings for inspiration. In particular, it employs the existing Moonah trees to frame garden views, blurring the lines between where the garden ends and the undulating dunes begin.

The design was a collaborative effort between Ben McDonald, director of Iluka Landscape Developments, and the property owners. The process began with an open conversation about what the owners wanted from their garden and naturally evolved from there. What they yearned for was a garden with a coastal, dune-like feel that would incorporate the established Moonah trees. It was important that feature rocks and stonework be incorporated along with ornamental native grasses to reinforce the by-the-beach look.

In creating this captivating garden, Ben took inspiration from the work of Victorian landscape designer, Fiona Brockhoff. Having worked with Fiona in the past, Ben had developed a deep appreciation for her signature style of granitic sand, clipped and balled native and indigenous plants, and expert use of coast-loving indigenous grasses. Her gardens also have an easy, completely natural flow and a quintessentially coastal feel, which is precisely what Ben has achieved here. This garden has a look that is typical of the southern Mornington Peninsula where it’s located; one that is in harmony with the back beach dunes and cliff tops but sits within a more formal setting.

All garden works were carried out by Iluka Landscape Developments and the first step on the road to transformation was the removal of the front lawn and the conversion of the space to a water-wise native garden. To complement the native plantings and enhance the natural coastal feel, a brushed front fence and entrance gate were installed. Stage one also embraced the creation of a paved sitting area, a veggie garden and orchard, and the careful siting of feature rocks to ensure they looked as if they had been placed by Mother Nature herself.

The second stage was completed in tandem with KF Constructions’ renovation of the home. This encompassed new landscaping elements and the reinstatement of existing garden areas. Works included paving, a built-in barbecue, front entrance paths and planting, the construction of retaining walls, and the creation of a courtyard along with a second orchard and veggie garden.

The outdoor entertaining area is the social hub of the reconceptualised garden. Limestone, which was laid in a French pattern, was chosen for the paving as it complements the local stone. For maximum enjoyment, there are separate dining and cooking areas, with the latter boasting a barbecue built into a customised structure.

Whether gazing out from the pergola-covered lounge area or tending the orchards, the owners are treated to views of a planting palette largely comprised of native and indigenous species.

The indigenous plants not only help to integrate the garden with the surrounding landscape, they support local fauna. This is also a garden that requires little water or fertiliser while offering high resistance to pests and a high tolerance to the high alkalinity low nutrient soil structure. This it achieves, and more, while paying homage to the threatened Moonah woodland.

For more information

Iluka Landscapes