Garden Inspiration

Coastal Transformation

When landscape designer, James Headland was engaged to transform a sandy site awash with exotics and unusual architectural features that inhibited the view and flow from indoors to out, he turned to Australian native plants to create the family-friendly oasis and wildlife sanctuary the owners aspired to live amongst…

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Initially brought on board to rework the front garden only, James discovered a mature saw banksia (Banksia serrata) surrounded by philodendrons and tiger grass. Inspired by the way it stood tall in a forest of exotics, he used it as guidance for remodelling the way the family and visitors would enter the house.

Planting Australian tree fern, Burrawang palm, Banksia spp. Scribbly Gum and Screw pine trees as anchors allowed James to offset their strong positions with a winding series of landing platforms and off-form concrete steps that led to the entry of the home.

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Placing a pond in the front garden beside the ‘entry path’ achieved two objectives – create interest for human visitors to the home and encourage birdlife to stay a while after discovering the oasis of native plants surrounding the water.

It wasn’t long before James’ work at the front of the house led to the owners asking him to continue the collaboration beyond the front door.

The house was being renovated at the same time which led to a number of unusual architectural features like the 1.4 metre high retaining wall directly in front of the living areas to be removed, opening up views from the house.

The sloping block was a challenge with the owners keen to create an easy flow not only from inside to outside but beyond the perimeter of the house where a pool area, statement shade structure and lawn would invite the family and their friends to fully engage with the entire outdoor space.

James worked with the plans of architect, David Boyle (who designed the original home) and used clever planting, a mixture of both organic and manmade materials, stepped platforms and water features to achieve that ease of flow and an enchanting way to ‘journey’ to each destination within the yard.

The garden creates interest for human visitors to the home and encourages birdlife to stay a while after discovering the oasis of native plants…

A custom water feature creates a focal point in the rear garden surrounded by coast tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum), banksia (Banksia ‘Roller Coaster’), ferns (Phlebodium aureum), giant spear lily (Doryanthes palmeri) and purple flag (Patersonia accidentalis).

The pool is accessed through a series of stepped platforms made from off-form concrete surrounded by tussock grass (Poa labillardien), tea tree and kangaroo paw which gives them that floating look and feel.

The colour palette of the three Screw pines (Pandanus tectorius), Acacia ‘Sterling Silver’, bottlebrush (Callistemon ‘Candy Pink’) and trailing ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) combine with the sculptural sandstone wall and to soften the surroundings of the pool.

Andesite boulders and rectangular blocks of rough-hewn pink granite create a sculptural effect throughout the garden and is a nod to the coastal landscape of the Central Coast.

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James also considered the various micro climates within the garden, planting Australian tree fern (Cyathea cooperi) and scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma) underplanted with native violet (Violet hederacea) as groundcover in the courtyard where the outdoor shower and it’s position creates a shadier and damper environment.

After a six-year renovation both inside and out, the garden is thriving and now connects with the family home, family life, nature and the coastal landscape it’s built upon.

Everyone and everything, including the beautiful combination of Australian native plants and the beautiful birdlife they attract, finally feels at home.


Helpful resources:

James Headland – Pangkarra Landscape Design
Photography Credit: Brigid Arnott