A Cultivated Wilderness In Inner Suburban Melbourne
This residential garden in Toorak is growing wilder and wilder by the day, which is actually the point.
‘The aim for the planting was to present a wild and diverse set of species to help build an oasis-like environment,’ says legendary landscape designer, Phillip Withers. With a palette consisting of 81 plant varietals (!) and his own practice’s installation at MIFGS 2017 in mind, he and his team set out to cultivate a wilderness around the Cera Stribley-designed home.
The final garden design (which was built by Form Landscaping) consists of three pockets of landscape, each with their own distinct personality and function. The front garden is a verdant welcome mat which serves to soften the architecture of the home upon arrival; the rear garden contains the body of the raised pool, a cactus garden and secreted pond; and the main garden on level one provides direct connection to the home via a landscaped patio and entry to the pool.
The sections of the garden closest to the house (such as the front garden and patio that connects the pool to the main pavilion) are characterised by the interesting and luscious shapes of an exotic palette, while the sections closer to the boundary are built with more localised flora, borrowed from the neighbouring surrounds.
At the main level, the pool is skirted by a small lawn, native grasses and a squat charcoal grass-tree. A young jacaranda tree sits at the centre and will become a majestic living sculpture at the heart of the home.
On the lower level, an L-shape bend in the residence floorplan created a sheltered nook between the pool and the house, which was in danger of becoming a dark cavity lost amongst its sunny surrounds. Phil rectified this closed-in corner by installing a decorative lilypad pond surrounded by ferns and Bangalow Palms. Inspired!
This winding rear garden wraps the pool’s raised body, with its edge overlooking the cactus beds from the end and the secluded fishpond from the side. Native violets, banksia and kangaroo paw provide bursts of vibrant colour against the soon-to-mature saplings. A cluster of silver torch cacti will create a statuesque presence once fully grown and a direct reference to the ‘I See Wild’ installation.
The contrast between hard and soft materials mirrors the contrasting planting schemes in different pockets of the garden: raised corten planters contain beds of soft flora; matte black steel battens form an undulating pool fence; and bluestone steppers are cut along jagged lines and placed haphazardly to create crazy paving. Every element has been thought about in relation to itself and its neighbours.
The luscious garden will benefit from ongoing stewardship by the Phillip Withers team to ensure its wilderness will be tamed and maintained for years to come.
See more projects from Phillip Withers here.