Harmony with nature

Harmony with nature


Garden Designs

Peaceful, plant-filled and pleasing to the eye, this is a garden with a genuine sense of place  

While the owners of this property, nestled close to Perth’s beautiful Canning River, were content to let designer Glenn Clark of Envious Landscapes work out the specifics, they were very clear about how they envisaged the final outcome, telling Glenn, “We want to feel that our garden and our home are in harmony with nature, not in conflict with it.”

More specifically, their wish list included a spacious, all-weather entertaining area that still allowed lots of light into the adjoining lower-storey lounge room; a permanent home for their large portable spa; a bright, low-maintenance, self-sustaining, water-wise garden (one that would be “full of life” and include a sunny spot for reading or sun worshiping); a small veggie patch; and a safe, secure play space for their two cats.

While Glenn has achieved this and more, he says, “The backyard — small, awkwardly shaped, multi-levelled and dominated by the enjoy the tranquillity of the garden and savour the interplay of colours and textures.

The entertaining area has everything the owners could possibly need: a large dining table that seats eight in cushioned comfort, a barbecue, a roomy spa, an audio system and a decorating scheme (from the contemporary wall art to the outdoor rugs) that gives this courtyard-style space the look and feel of an outdoor living room.

An adjustable louvred roofing system enhances the sensation of being in an outdoor room and enables the use of the space all imposing stark-white walls of the neighbouring houses — added an element of complexity to the design process.”

The use of stacked circular decks, curved paths and raised planter beds overcomes the initial awkward shape of the backyard and creates an eye-catching, flowing transition from the main entertaining area into the “sunken” garden.

The garden is ablaze with colour, borne predominantly from long-flowering Western Australian native species, including Anigozanthos ‘Big Red’ and ‘Yellow Gem’, Callistemon ‘Kings Park Special’ and ‘Matthew Flinders’, Conostylis candicans and several grevillea and melaleuca varieties, with a cluster of three rescued Xanthorrhoea preissii (grass trees) providing the perfect centrepiece.

A rock waterfall and pond with underwater lighting add to the ambience of the garden, making the lower level of the decking the perfect place to rest a while and simply to year round. With a louvred roof, you can enjoy controlled sunlight and cooling breezes in the warmer weather and complete protection from rain when the sky turns grey.

Lighting plays a key role both in the entertaining area and the garden. In the outdoor room, ceiling and wall lights combine to provide sufficient illumination to cook and eat with ease while creating a warm and welcoming ambience that makes spending time in the spa an irresistible proposition. The strategic use of lighting extends to the garden, highlighting the feature planting and painting an appealing nightscape.

“In this lush garden, harmony with nature is not just skin deep,” Glenn explains. “We reused the existing pavers to construct the raised planters and built-in seating; used recycled jarrah for the decks; installed a 6820-litre rainwater tank connected to a water-wise irrigation system; created an enclosed cat-run (complete with tunnels and climbing posts made from salvaged materials); installed energy-efficient LED and compact fluorescent lighting; used jarrah woodchip mulch (a waste by-product from timber milling); [used] natural clay-based paints and plant-based decking oil; and sent what little waste there was to recycling facilities.”

Interest, colour and life abound in this garden and the sense of spaciousness and tranquillity that Glenn has been able to create is really quite amazing. The judges of the Landscape Industries Association of Western Australia’s 2010 Awards of Excellence felt so too, naming Envious Landscapes a Finalist in both the Best Residential Designer — 100m² to 500m² and Best Sustainable Design — Resedential categories for this project.