Soft Embrace: a ‘foliage-wrapped’ garden


This foliage-wrapped garden is the perfect place to enjoy the simple pleasures of life

A contemporary design with classic undertones, this engaging garden in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick is a confident fusion of contrasting textures set within the green embrace of a lush planting palette and punctuated by clean, simple lines.

“The owners wanted to use their new garden for both outdoor living and entertaining. In particular, they wanted a lawn area where the children could play and a swimming pool the entire family could enjoy,” explains designer David Franklin of Franklin Landscape & Design. “Also high on the agenda was dealing with the slope across the property that had made the garden hard to traverse. This problem was resolved by introducing a series of steps and level changes leading from the deck at house height down to the garage. In the process, we were able to create a series of different rooms within the landscape.”

The swimming pool is the jewel in the crown of the new design. It features an infinity edge that seamlessly integrates into a garden bed below. “This blurring of the lines between pool and garden creates a beautiful softness and almost whimsical atmosphere to the outdoor space,” says David. Natural stone cladding was used on the spillover wall, its warm tones and rough texture contrasted by the white colour and smooth surface of the polished concrete steps that lead from the deck and past the pool to the lawn. “The owners were after some very crisp colours and clean lines, which can be seen in the design of the pool and the concrete steps, which are so central to the design,” says David.

“Without both of these elements, the different spaces would not function so seamlessly or read as one unit.”

There was an existing deck that David remodeled to accommodate the necessary level changes and create different entertaining zones. The relaxation zone sits at the highest level, is furnished with sunlounges and overlooks the pool. The other zone is equipped with a dining setting, a seating area comprised of cantilevered timber benches and a barbecue built into a concrete benchtop.

The mixed planting palette places an emphasis on textures and layering, starting with the groundcovers around and in between the steps, moving up to low shrubs and topiary Buxus sempervirens (clipped into balls) to soften and frame the pool and its infinity edge. The final layer is the upper storey with feature plantings of Betula pendula ‘Moss White’ (a silver birch with bright white bark), hedged Bambusa textilis ‘Gracilis’ (also known as slender weaver’s bamboo) and the existing Waterhousia floribunda hedges.

As you move around the garden, you will spy even more plants, including Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’, Hosta sieboldiana ‘Blue Angel’, Heuchera ‘Obsidian’, Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’, Gardenia augusta ‘Florida’, Arthropodium cirratum, Euphorbia martinii, Viburnum odoratissimum, Murraya paniculata and Hydrangea paniculata.

Lighting was an essential element of the design. “There is uplighting for the infinity edge, pool lighting and a selection of under lighting and hedge lighting in other parts of the garden. There are even fairy lights in the silver birches to give the garden a playful atmosphere after the sun sets,” explains David. The result? A garden of easy elegance that can be enjoyed day and night.

For more information

Franklin Landscape & Design

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