Flowering garden beds, flowing lawn areas, raised vegetable patches and meandering pathways create a magical garden wonderland on this Mornington Peninsula property
The owner’s brief for Flinders called for a total transformation from sprawling acreage to a neat and clean space complete with garden features such as formal flower beds, outdoor living areas and a structured gravel forecourt. Set on an 8ha plot, the landscaped garden is a 1ha section of the property perched on the hill adjacent to the main dwelling. With sweeping views over Western Port Bay, it sits in a truly unique natural setting.
Designed by Ben Scott Garden Design, the landscaping was in the hands of director of Simon McCurdy Landscapes, Simon McCurdy. For Simon, the first step in any garden transformation comes long before any ground is shovelled or trees planted. His working philosophy revolves around “listening carefully to the client’s brief and taking this into consideration when presenting initial concept designs”, he says.
Working closely with the client has been both fruitful and rewarding in this case as the team were able to create a garden that is both supremely practical and beautiful at the same time. The exceptionally designed outdoor areas flow easily and sit comfortably within the spectacular surroundings, and thanks to the local climate, they can be enjoyed year-round.
Being surrounded by water on three sides, the Mornington Peninsula micro-climate is warm and temperate, typically with cool summers, warm winters and year-round rainfall. Taking these local conditions into consideration, Simon was able to bring to life key garden features that allow the owners to have an outdoor lifestyle in all seasons.
The landscaping team worked tirelessly, even living on-site at one point, to complete the extensive outdoor entertaining areas, including the informal firepit with Cyprus pine seating, the pedestrian pathways and the large saltwater pool. Other key design elements include the bookleaf stone walls that adorn the herb and vegetable gardens and pool area, the large natural stone steppers that pepper the lawn, and the earthy tones of the crazy paving. The attention to detail and well-thought-out landscaping serves to “really show off the plants in the garden”, says Simon — especially the clipped Westringia balls, which are his favourite feature of the whole project.
While the formal elements and symmetry of the garden help the individual plants shine, it doesn’t crowd out the beauty of the natural landscape or create a sense of imposition. Instead, Simon believes the classic garden features show off the property’s best features. “The extensive garden maintenance undertaken really shows off how good the landscape design is for this property,” he says.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Simon and his team. “The soil in Flinders is very unstable,” he explains. “Substantial sub-surface drainage works were undertaken to ensure this garden functions as expected according to the client’s brief.” The extensive drainage works included 250 cubic metres of imported topsoil and 80 cubic metres of composted mulch to assist with creating garden beds ready for plants to take root in and thrive.
In order to stabilise the soil further, Simon chose Canadian maples in the forecourt, Westringia fruiticosa to frame the lawns and Ivy on the embankments. To complement these stabilising options, the team opted for Correa alba with its wonderful grey foliage for visual balance and to harmonise with the charcoal grey of the dwelling.
To complement the colourful plant life, earthy tones were chosen for the decking and paving, with spotted gum used around the residence and Wistow paving from South Australia in the garden area. The overall effect is a symmetrical garden that sits comfortably in its surroundings.
With sustainability in mind, the client commissioned a series of herb and vegetable gardens full of edible foods that can be grown according to the seasons. Straddling the fine line between aesthetics, practicality and sustainability, the household can enjoy the produce from the vegetable garden year-round.
“In my 30-year landscaping career,” says Simon, “this is one of my favourite gardens that I’ve worked on.” And if he had to describe the project in just two words? “Stunning,” he says. “Exceptional.”
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