Contemporary Australian garden design is less about hard structures and more about how your house and garden are unified.
The gardens of the Upper Blue Mountains can be a wonderful showcase for Australian garden design. But to get the best impact for your garden, you have to look at how to unify the garden with the home it surrounds.
The architecture of the house is of prime importance when planning a garden. You want to carry the design of the house through to the garden. You don’t want to put in an ultra-modern garden beside a rickety old cottage.
The next thing we look at is what the client wants from the space. Look at what you want to use you garden for, and how much time you’ve got to look after it. That will help us determine the best garden design for your home.
Our view of garden design
Many people move to the Blue Mountains because of the gardens up here. It’s not like Sydney’s suburbs, where people live cheek-by-jowl. Many of the houses up here are very garden focused. Often, people move here because they want to spend more time in the great outdoors and pottering in the garden.
The gardens here are also seasonal gardens. When we’re planning a design, we’re using cold climate plants in a contemporary way. Mixing up the cottage garden aesthetic, our designs are predominantly plant-focused with swathes of planting, rather than focused on hard structural landscaping.
Mass planting is a very contemporary aesthetic and one that features in a lot of our garden designs. It has come from contemporary European landscape designers. It can involve using plants that you’d come to expect, but in a way that makes it look less like your fussy ‘nanna’s garden’.
Many other landscapers might do a lot of retaining walls. They may fill a garden with hard surfaces or hard structures. We tend to have that as a very minor element. We prefer softer gravel paths and lots of planting, which is a reflection of the world heritage natural landscape at our doorstep.
The challenges of Australian garden design in the mountains
Many gardens in the mountains are framed by beautiful bushland. But the bush setting often plays less of a part in garden design than you may think. Many people are moving up here for the wonderful colours you get in a cold climate mountain garden. The change of season reflected in the foliage around the streets. You don’t get that seasonal colour out of a gum tree. What I say to clients is there’s a whole lot of bush out there—you may as well do something different. It’s not as if we need more bush … but let’s work with it.
In our designs we love combining native and exotic – utilising their form, colour, plant architecture and growth habit – to create a visually interesting design that harmonises the home and landscape.
We do look at what we call ‘the borrowed view’ as well when creating a design. Everything in the design has to work with its surrounds and the neighbours’ gardens. If the neighbour has an awesome tree, we don’t want to block that out. Or if the neighbour has a horrible fence I can see from my back door, we screen that. So you do take in the borrowed view and try and integrate it. Whether you meld the more exotic planting into a bush planting and combine a bit of the two depends on the particular job.
When you meet with us we’ll put together some inspirations for ideas and styles. And we’re happy to work with you. We find that, for many of our clients, their mountains garden is the third or fourth garden they’ve built. So they know what they want it to be. The real question is how we work together to design the perfect garden for their home.