Secret garden

This captivating private courtyard doubles as an entry garden and a relaxed outdoor living space


Designed by Brenton Stokes of intrinsic Landscapes, this unique entry courtyard is sleek, modern and stylish. “The homeowners wanted to beautify the facade of the house and landscape the courtyard,” explains Brenton. “And they wanted a visually appealing courtyard entrance to the home which could double as a functional outdoor entertaining area for their teenage children to use when their friends were over.”


What Brenton and the Intrinsic Landscapes’ construction team has created is a garden full of contrasts. Most notably, the solid black-and-white patterns of the tiles versus the natural curves and colours of the vertical garden. Imported Moroccan tiles were used to create a beautiful graphic pattern. In the middle there is a solid Noir square bordered by plain Kohl tiles. Around the outside, Zig Zag tiles complete the arresting pattern.

“The vertical garden consists of plants such as hellebores, black mondo, dwarf agapanthus and heucheras, chosen to thrive in the on-site conditions. There is variety in foliage colour and type, and flowers in different seasons, ensuring colour year round. They were also planted to mimic the pattern of the privacy screens,” says Brenton.


The previously established street-facing wall was painted and a black powdercoated steel gate and matching privacy screens installed on all sides. “The ornate lines of the screens create a juxtaposition to the wall when observed from the street, but mimic and complement the plants of the vertical garden when seen from inside,” says Brenton.


“All the garden features were custom- or hand-made: the colourful vertical garden, the enormous frameless mirror which covers one wall and makes the space seem twice as large, the handmade pressed Moroccan tiles, the tiled bench seat, the powdercoated steel privacy screen and gate, and the matching powdercoated steel gas meter screen,” says Brenton. The result is what Brenton calls “a secret garden in an inner-city jungle”.

For more information

Intrinsic Landscapes


Mobile: 0400 573 880


Originally from Outdoor Design Living, Edition 31

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Secret Garden

Secret Garden


garden designsNestled next to the Brisbane River, this tropical garden is a hidden treasure
Story: Karen Booth

Photos: Glenn Weiss

On the outskirts of Brisbane in the delightfully named suburb of Fig Tree Pockets sits a secret garden. Backing on to the Brisbane River, the garden is a flourishing fusion of exotics and natives combined in a planting theme that is largely tropical with just a hint of Bali.

“We were approached by the owners of this property to put improvements in place as well as implement a garden maintenance program,” says Natalie Watts of Branat Designs. “The maintenance is done every month due to the size of the property and because the owners spend 90 per cent of their time in Hong Kong so needed someone to care for their garden during their long absences.”

Although the riverside property is a mere 10 kilometres from the Brisbane CBD, it feels far removed from the bustle of modern city life thanks to the concealing painted and rendered block front wall and the abundant planting.

“Two magnificent conical-shaped Norfolk Island pines on the eastern side of the front garden add privacy. Although not indigenous to Australia they thrive here and are extremely useful because of their wind tolerance and ability to adapt to extremely sandy soils. Dotted in between them are the wonderful long stems of the black bamboo with their shiny brown/black culms,” says Natalie.

“To add interest to the front garden there is a slightly mounded sandstone crazy-paved pathway, which is surrounded by Cycas revoluta, Liriope sp., Cordyline ‘Rubra’, clumps of dwarf mondo grass, the wonderful blue/purple flowers of French lavender and pockets of variegated star jasmine with its vibrant maroon and cream blooms.”

Even the disused water feature has been given over to the plant life. “We recently redesigned it to be a large planter area with Furcreas sp. and Liriope muscari ‘Evergreen Giant’,” says Natalie.

To personalise the garden, the owners have incorporated various decorative pieces sourced in Hong Kong and Bali, adding to the tropical, Asian-influenced feel of the garden. Explains Natalie: “Large limestone pots in the front garden contain a wonderful mix of various bougainvillea and there is an array of various heavy limestone wall plaques adding interest to what were once blank rendered walls. Also of interest are the brass garden lights dotted about the garden, which the owners brought with them from Hong Kong.”

In deference to Queensland’s ongoing drought, hardy Sir Walter turf was recently laid in the front garden. With regular maintenance both lawn and garden beds are doing well, providing the owners with a warm welcome during their return visits to Brisbane.