Overhead view of garden pathways with evening lighting

This landscape filled with garden walkways is full of endless surprises

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In this ‘lucky dip’ landscape, filled with garden walkways, the hectic outside world and its endless pressures seem far away

The completion of this outdoor design had a considerable degree of pressure placed upon it — a pre-wedding reception that was to be held in the garden. This meant the outdoor space had to be something spectacular — and finished on time.

“Some have likened this project to the boardwalks you find secretly weaving through the Blue Mountains, others have called it the garden of hidden surprises,” says designer Chris Slaughter of Scenic Blue Design. “I would call it a lucky dip. You never know what you will find until you reach that certain part of the garden.”

Before any wedding guests could enjoy the space, there was much work to be done. “The homeowners had not been able to access this part of their property — an area of land of approximately 300m² — because of the steep gradient. Once this was respected, we were able to sit down and consider the owners’ ‘I would like’ list, knowing that the gradient was always going to be tugging at our shirttails,” says Chris.

The main goal was to design spaces for relaxation, so the ‘I would like’ list included an area that invited you to stop and rest, read or snooze out of the sun and another for entertaining. The owners also wanted to be taken on a long, leisurely journey through the garden so they and their friends could meander along walkways, enjoying lush planting, and in light of the gradient of the site, safe and easy access was also a priority.

Given the strong presence of the existing rocks, Chris’s design needed to embrace their presence. “Two main boulders were used in the creation of a natural cascading water feature,” he explains. “The water, like the boardwalk, was woven through the garden’s design, taking you with it as if floating on the movement of the water. The boardwalk’s descent through the garden has a slowing down effect enhanced by the collection of spots that encourage you to stop, think and enjoy nature,” says Chris.

The plants were carefully chosen with full regard to the continuous dappled shade. “This allowed us to play with plants such as Dicksonia antartica, Cordyline fruiticosa ‘Rubra’, Lomandra longifolia ‘Tanika’, Robinia pseudocacia ‘Frisia’, Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’, Viburnum odoratissimum ‘Dense Fence’, Philodenron ‘Xanadu’, Myoporum parvifolium ‘Yareena’ and Phormium tenax,” explains Chris.

“The project needed a very lateral thought process, yet we had to ensure that the clients’ wishes were achieved,” he adds. “Despite the challenges of very bad access, failing retaining structures, unstable rock and soil outcrops, this project really was a dream to work on as it got us all thinking and led to an enjoyable collaboration between us and the clients. Not only that, it was wonderful to see the wedding guests meandering through the garden, using the many resting spaces we designed.”

For more information

Scenic Blue Design

This project is an entrant in the Outdoor Design 2022 NSW Landscaper of the Year Awards, celebrating residential design innovation and construction excellence. All entrants were featured in Outdoor Design Issue 42, with winners to be announced in Outdoor Design Issue 43.