Restful with a tropical flourish, this front garden is a place of retreat
By Karen Booth
Photography Patrick Redmond
The starting point for any successful garden is good design. Something that takes into account the site specifics, such as climate and aspect, considers the lifestyle needs of the owners and works in harmony with the architecture of the home. In the case of a front garden, issues of access and privacy are equally critical factors.
Thanks to the creativity of designer Elias Trujillo from ZenFx Landscaping, the owners of this Melbourne property now have a garden that perfectly matches their home and their needs — a private garden oasis with Asian and tropical influences that is a pure pleasure to behold at the end of a busy working day.
“The brief from the owners was for a low-maintenance garden with a tropical theme. What we came up with was a simple garden design that has the requisite tropical lushness yet is very clean in keeping with the contemporary look of the house,” says Elias.
Achieving such a seamless result was not without its challenges, of course. “The biggest hurdle was the foundation for the timber sleeper front wall, which had to be structurally engineered,” says Elias. “Constructing the foundation required the sinking of one-metre and two-metre piers every two metres and the work had to be inspected by local council.”
The fencing, a combination of the timber sleeper front wall, bamboo cladding and cement-rendered brick with a textured finish, is complemented by bluestone crazy paving. The seemingly random look of the paving contributes to the tropical feel of the garden yet belies the effort required to actually lay it.
As the owners wanted a tropical feel in their garden, lush foliage was essential. The planting scheme includes two types of bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai and Strelitzia reginae), chosen for their height, large leaves and vibrant flowers, plus Brachychiton rupestris, a tree known for its distinctive bottle-shaped trunk. Other planting includes bamboo — Bambusa textilis ‘Gracilis’ — selected for its slender culms and height, and Bambusa multiplex var. Alphonse Karr, which was used at the side of the garden as a hedging plant for privacy. You will also find various palms and, to complete the picture and add colour, there are several cordyline varieties, cycads and a selection of low-maintenance ornamental grasses, including some Australian natives.
The garden beds are all mulched with pebble. This helps to retard weed growth and keep precious water in the soil for longer, reducing the need to water the garden. The colour of the pebbles contrasts the bluestone of the nearby paving and picks up on the earthy tones of the feature stone work on the house.
Alittle path of random bluestone steppers provides access across one of the pebble-mulched garden beds to a circular patch of lawn. For ease of maintenance and to ensure a green look year-round, artificial turf was installed.
Making a grand arrival statement, entry to the walled garden space is via an impressive set of timber doors set in a timber frame. These reclaimed doors are of Asian style and add a touch of Eastern mystery to the garden’s design. The crazy bluestone paving starts in front of the doors then leads into and through the garden to the house itself.
This is a unique and well-considered garden design, which has taken into consideration its corner location. While a private space, passers-by are allowed a sneak peek into the walled garden through the section of vertically installed timber sleepers. The result is a garden with a tropical flourish, a simple design and a restful ambience that works in harmony with the home and the streetscape.