This award-winning Queensland garden offers the ultimate in resort-style living
Story: Louise Weihart
Photos: Glenn Weiss
With so many different materials and surfaces, landscaping the grounds of ‘Mandala’ could easily have seemed an overwhelming task. But the attention to detail and the canny selection of plant material has united the elements and created what can only be described as a major triumph in landscaping.
And it seems the Queensland landscape industry agrees. The private residence of a Brisbane-based landscape contractor, ‘Mandala’ won for the contractor, Ace Landscapes, the top honour in the 2006 Queensland Landscape Construction Excellence Awards — Queensland Construction of the Year.
Noting that this sprawling residential project called for an extensive range of skills and materials, the judges also commented: “’Mandala’ is truly a project that has the wow factor. So many impressive features spread over a large residential block.”
The house design includes several courtyards with water features, which are a key element of the project. There are no fewer than 10 such features, including a large saltwater swimming pool, installed throughout the garden and in the entry areas.
A key focus of the landscape design devised by Matt Franzmann of Form Landscape Architects was ensuring that some aspect of the garden, pool or water features were visible whenever you looked out of a window, especially from the living and family rooms. The installation of a glass pool fence has ensured unobstructed views from the house and entertaining areas.
In addition, the pool is accessible from several rooms of the house. Designed for swimming and fun, it provides a relaxing and soothing effect. It is suitable for swimming laps, while seating areas and shallow play areas with water features also make it ideal for small children.
The spacious pool features a pebble interior finish and sandstone coping tiles. The adjacent paving areas consist of exposed aggregate concrete panels, sandstone tiles and lawn areas.
The use of multiple water features is complemented by lush vegetation, which can also be seen from all the rooms. And, indeed, well-planted gardens are another key feature of this outstanding landscaping effort.
Palms are dotted within lines of the pool, complemented by the use of agave (Agave sp.), yucca (Yucca elephantipes), dracaena (Dracaena draco) and tiger grass (Thysanolaena maxima) as feature plants. Lilly pilly (Syzygium sp.) has been used for the hedging, providing lush and easy-to-maintain planting. Groundcovers such as star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) and gardenia (Gardenia radicans), as well as a number of small shrubs complete the picture.
Sculptural items, imported from Vietnam and installed in various areas of the garden as well as in some of the water features, have been carefully placed to complement the way elements from inside the house have been extended to the landscape and vice versa. To enhance the effect at night, these sculptural works are illuminated by low-voltage lighting.
The driveway and pedestrian finishes are a combination of exposed aggregated concrete and basalt cobbles. Entry walls are a combination of rendered brick and timber paling fences. Low-voltage lighting, an intercom system to the house and an entry pavilion have been installed for easy identification of vehicle and pedestrian access.
The paving surfaces on the walk areas consist of exposed aggregate concrete, basalt cobbles and bush hammered sandstone tiles. The colours and textures have been selected to reference the tiling inside the house.
Construction elements, including timber arbors, sandstone feature walls, timber fences and rendered brick walls, were carefully considered to ensure they would complement the large timber beams and posts that are a key design feature of the entry to the house, the pavilion areas and the internal living areas.
The brief to the landscape architect was to create a private retreat for resort-style living. This brief has been more than met by a landscaping feat that enables the family to enjoy areas of both play and tranquility.