My Garden

A backyard big on heart

A small ‘sunken garden’ lovingly created with a colourful palette of native and exotic plants celebrates place and people…

This garden created for a new build home in Torquay (on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula) was a small scale project for the award winning Phillip Withers Landscape Design, but very big on heart. Affectionately named the ‘Sunken Garden’, it’s just been completed for Phillip’s parents.

“It’s more than just a garden to look at, it’s a place that will bring my parents out into the garden to potter or to sit around a fire toasting marshmallows with their beloved grandkids,” says Phillip.

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Creating a sense of place is first and foremost for Phillip in his approach to garden design. And responding to local surrounds is equally as important when devising his vision for a space, no matter the scale.

“Creating environments, not just a garden is very important to me,” says Phillip.

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“I strive to make gardens that have a connection between people and place, a place where people really want to be in and stay.”

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Whatever the size and nature of the project, Phillip always starts by looking to local plant life and being inspired by immediate surroundings.

“I do like to challenge the traditional European garden ideology that we historically settle for and that means seeking out native plants and ensuring plant selection really responds to the local area.”

In what’s become a signature style of Withers, a textural, biodiverse plant palette of natives and exotics that embraces colour was derived – this time to suit a hardy, coastal locale. Plants such Aulux cancellata, Conostylis candicans, Teucrum fruticans, Eremophila glabra ‘Kalbarri Carpet’ and Euphorbia myrsiniotes were selected for their changing colour throughout the seasons.

More architectural plant life help lead your eye through the softer foliage with selections such as Brachychiton rupestris, Banksia integrifolia combined with Agave Americana.

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Hard landscaping draws people out into the space – from the back door you stumble down into a sunken area defined by a curved blackbutt timber bench seat and fire pit area crafted from naturally derived bluestone. Additional bluestone rocks have also been positioned into the edges of the paths to help define the space.

Stepping up out of the fire pit area, the vegetation changes and becomes edible and full of use with espaliered citrus and a Spanish olive tree to the corner with easy to pick herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano and parsley at their base.

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“It’s a place that’s full of colour, it’s a place that changes through the seasons, but more than that, it’s a place for the wider family to escape to and enjoy…”

For more inspiration:

Design by Phillip Withers Landscape Design 

Construction by Instyle Gardens 


Photography creditAmelia Stanwix