Garden Inspiration

Accolades for native gardens

We put a spotlight on some recent award winning landscape designers being applauded for their approach to creating residential gardens where native flora, sustainable practices and soulful design are part of the formula for success…

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Platylobium Landscape Design’s ‘Consciousness’ garden design won acclaim at the 2023 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show

‘Consciousness’ garden created by Platylobium Landscape Design takes out honours

Melbourne based landscape design practice, Platylobium set their sights on the 2023 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show to showcase their philosophy of creating functional landscapes that integrate design elements with the built and natural environment – all with our changing climate in mind.

Presenting a show garden titled ‘Conciousness’, their intent was to create an elegant contemporary sanctuary that connects the user with nature, optimises the use of a typical suburban house and garden, and promotes how outdoor spaces should be designed with a positive impact on the environment in mind. And it took out the Silver Gilt Award for Best Design.

“We wanted to showcase a contemporary sanctuary that optimises house and garden, connects with nature and promote how easy it is for design to have a positive impact on our environment…”

The garden was designed for visitors to the internationally renowned Garden Show to envisage year-round use of the outdoor front or back yard space with a meandering pathway surrounded by groupings of Australian plants in contrasting textures and colours, and transitions to recycled brick steppers that lead to the recycled timber deck and pergola – all placed to allow winter sun and provide summer shade to both house and garden.

Recycled brick, reclaimed timber, radially cut timber and rammed earth from a previous landscape construction project added to the sustainable approach, while the show garden was designed with the inclusion of the façade and cross section of a Passive House to highlight the internal workings of a highly insulated and sealed wall.

The garden’s exclusive use of Australian plants, many of which are indigenous to Naarm (Melbourne) focused on hardy, versatile and drought friendly species.  These were used in ways to deliberately challenge the traditional bush-style native garden, including a low hedge of Common Correa, punches of colour through Anigozanthos and graphic plantings with textural inclusions of Adenanthos cuneatus ‘Coral Carpet’ and Banksia repens ‘Creeping Banksia’. As with all Platylobium designs there is a focus on biodiversity (the variety of living things) through the inclusion of local plant species which provide food and habitat for birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects.

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Achieveable Garden Excellence for Oliver Ashworth Martin

Victorian Oliver Ashworth-Martin’s background in fine arts and sculpture has recently allowed his creativity to move into landscape design. And it’s his approach to creating soulful gardens with an artist’s eye that now doubt caught the judges attention when he presented his ‘Tea in the Woods’ show garden at the 2023 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.

Taking out the honours for the Achievable Gardens category, Ashworth-Martin’s celebrated the sensory experience even the smalles of gardens can provide, with a focus on the simple act of brewing a cup of restorative lemon myrtle tea.

“Sometimes it is the simple things, like picking edibles from the garden, that generates the most joy for me”.

From a design perspective, the show garden put the focus on form, textures using larger and contrasting plants to frame smaller and more delicate with pops of colour and the use of composition to help draw the eye around the space. Even though this was to showcase a small garden, wild and luscious plantings were still employed with a focus on combing natives, exotic and edibles – using tough and resilient plants that work well together in micro-climates.

“I also wanted to use colours and tones that echo the deep dense forest and bush, particularly the bush around Victoria,” says Oliver of his inspiration for plant selection. His clever use of mirrors also helped extend the sense of space and produce various viewpoints and more dynamic movement. The designer even incorporated one of his original sculptures into his show garden.

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“I naturally approach landscape design as an artist, with a particular focus on form, texture, colour and movement. But I also strive to create meaningful spaces for people, ones with a story and sense of place…”

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Kathleen Murphy Landscape Design’s Native Studio Garden wins Design Files top accolade

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Recently taking out The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards in the Landscape Design category, ‘The Native Retreat Studio Garden’ provided landscape gardener, Kathleen Murphy a chance to create her very own Australian garden in a modern day family context.

Inspired and guided by the local conditions of Victoria’s Macedon Range’s, Murphy’s ‘studio garden’ provides a place for her to explore ideas about garden making, demonstrate concepts to clients and connect with nature – as well as provide a place for her family of three children and a small menagerie of pets to enjoy.

Mimicking far off hills, gentle mounding provides visual connections to the landscape beyond. A billabong collects water from the main house and local materials including salvaged rocks, soil from local housing site cuts and drystone walls, metal work, rock seats and other features created by local craftspeople ensure a deep connection between this garden and its surroundings.

Murphy was intent on selecting plants for their drought and frost hardiness and wanted to combine indigenous, Australian native and exotic varieties to create a garden that responded to its setting. A local grass, Austrostipa scabra found across the grasslands near the property helps anchor the use of other native grasses, blending and blurring boundaries. A statement deciduous Acer ‘Crimson Sentry’ is underplanted with Correa alba; Ficinia nodosa soften a wooden bridge, a selection of Lomandra species are among exotic perennial plantings that create painterly compositions within the two acres of house and garden.

“We really wanted to explore what an Australian garden can be…”

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