This award-winning garden represents the very best in contemporary resort-style living
Story: Diane Norris
Photos: Patrick Redmond
Rated as one of the top five horticultural events in the world, the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show is an annual showcase of the latest trends in garden design, and the latest trend to sweep Australia is the resort-style landscape. At the forefront of this push is Sydney landscape designer Dean Herald of Rolling Stone Landscapes whose display garden, Resort Style Living, blitzed the field this year winning the Show Garden Display Gold Award and The Royal Horticultural Society Comeadow Award.
Of the garden, Dean observed: “Resort Style Living expresses the level of function, fun and relaxation that can be had in a modern-day garden. Today’s landscape is about lifestyle and functionality along with a tailored environment for those who use it. Whether al fresco cooking, pool environs, outdoor fires or dining areas, all these elements can be designed and then surrounded with a great planting theme.”
The centrepiece of Dean’s lavish resort-style design is a fully tiled lap pool, which enables all surrounding spaces to interact comfortably. The 10-metre-long wet-edge pool includes a swim-up wet bar where you can sit and enjoy a cool drink without getting out of the water. The stainless-steel stools are actually in the pool and face a custom-made bar that conveniently contains a fridge, sink and storage.
A handcrafted ‘floating’ kitchen bench is featured under the main pavilion. The five-metre-long Corian counter is suspended from the ceiling and doubles as a dining table at one end and a cooking station at the other, its sleek lines and clean styling epitomise the calibre of design expected in a luxury resort landscape.
On the lower level, which extends from the pavilion, a timber deck supports the lounge area from where you can recline in comfort as you peruse the entire pool area and observe family and friends enjoying other elements of the garden.
Materials used throughout the garden include natural stone and timber, which bring a warmth and natural texture to the space. Australian products and materials were sourced where possible, such as the Australian hardwood used to construct the distinctive, custom-designed hardwood pavilion posts and the Ithaca sandstone used for paving and steps.
Perhaps the most prominent feature, to which your eye is immediately drawn, is the massive stainless-steel, sphere-shaped sculpture from Earthcore that is strikingly positioned in the higher pool-pond. This huge ball, behind which stands a striking dragon’s blood tree (Dracaena draco), smartly links all the other stainless-steel items installed within the garden to yield an overall satisfying balance.
Careful consideration was given to plant selection to provide contrasting textures, complementary colours and movement throughout the whole landscape. Some of the plant species embraced here are the fragrant gardenia (Gardenia augusta ‘Florida’), the colourful, hardy and impressive bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae), the burgundy toned cordyline rubra (Cordylines fruticosa ‘Rubra’), the upright grass-like lomandra (Lomandra longifolia ‘Nyalla’) and the feathery red fountain grass lomandra (Lomandra longifolia ‘Rubrum’). With the increased pressures on gardeners to use drought-tolerant plants, Dean has taken a balanced approach to this issue by selecting a large proportion of plants that are recognised as having a low-water requirement.
Environmental considerations are part of his landscaping philosophy, too. “I tend to have a strong direction on the collection, storage and re-use of water. It still rains but we are just bad at catching it,” said Dean.
This landscape demonstrates that, with good design, you can implement measures for catching, storing and re-using water from rainfall, which can then be used for watering plants or topping up the pool as required. In this garden, both the pavilion roof and the wet bar roof provide great catchment areas, with the rainwater directed straight into a storage water tank in readiness for use.