Garden Inspiration

Gardens that belong

Working with nature, the existing landscape and surrounding environment is key to creating a beautiful and flourishing Australian native garden. These four gardens from the suburbs to the sea are thriving shrines to working creatively with what’s already there…

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Suburban oasis….

Ticking all the design and sustainability boxes, Phillip Johnson Landscapes was awarded Best Sustainable Development in the 2023 Boroondara Urban Design Awards for their Camberwell project.

Set in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne among varying architectural styles and gardens, the goal was to seamlessly incorporate passive and active sustainability measures that fit within its urban context.

The judges were impressed with the many sustainable attributes of this dwelling, well-configured and seamlessly arranged on the site in tandem with the stunning external works, including front and side native gardens and chemical-free, natural lap pool.

Together with judiciously located solar panels, water storage, fluid internal-external spaces and site-responsive glazed walls and roof form (enabling cross ventilation and abundant light without impeding on neighbours) the house competently serves as an active environmental, energy device and a warm and welcoming abode for its family.

An award-winning site design and approach!

Start your sustainable garden journey at our e-nursery.

Seaside transformation…

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

Starting with the front yard, he created an ‘entry path’ using a winding series of landing platforms and off-form concrete steps with Scribbly Gums, Screw pine trees and banksia providing the anchor points to offset the softer landscape elements of native grasses and a birdlife friendly pond.

In the back garden, James was met with the challenge of a sloping block and an eye-catching, architecturally designed pool area, shade structure and courtyard.

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 surrounded by tussock grass, tea tree and kangaroo paw to give them a ‘floating’ look and feel, and water features to achieve flow and an enchanting way to ‘journey’ to each destination within the yard.

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.

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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.

Head to the Native Plant Project e-nursery to start your own transformation

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Landscape designer Justin Nigh’s ‘cultivated wild’ look graces his own Queenslander

Natural curb appeal…

When Canadian expat Justin Nigh decided to make a career change away from the IT sector, his fascination with Australian flora and passion for sustainable horticulture led him to establish a design practice specialising in creating native gardens.

Now his residential landscaping practice, Regenerative Designs, is bringing both joy and a sense of place back to people’s front and backyards – with Australian natives front and centre. And it’s a philosophy best expressed in his very own garden on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The effect Justin wanted to create was a densely planted but open and welcoming front garden with a ‘cultivated wild’ look. Curated naturalism but not chaotic.

The house sits lower than the front yard so Justin diverted surface water flow around the foundations to the backyard where it could be collected and put to use within the garden.

He chose plants suited to the South East Queensland climate, and able to thrive in rainfall, sticking to a restrained palette of 8-10 different plants of varying height and type for a layered effect.

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“I believe only Australian plants can achieve a sense of place that sits well with the natural landscape; I think we should be embracing them rather than trying to be somewhere else…”

Soulful spaces…

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Landscape designer Peter Shaw started planning his own garden on Victoria’s dramatic Surf Coast with a single premise – to create a garden that belongs.

As creative director of Great Ocean Road Landscaping – a practice he runs with wife, Simone – this soulful sensibility is central to all their work, but perhaps none more than at their own family garden named Sunnymeade.

“I feel a garden should belong. Belong with buildings, belong with the land and belong with the borrowed landscape, urban or natural…”

Peter and Simone wanted to create a special place to live…..for them and their four children. While his design philosophy focuses on creating a garden that belongs to the buildings and the borrowed landscapes, he also incorporated the playful and practical with zones for firewood storage, drying clothes and the fun stuff – a zipline and treehouse.

Combining a number of his favourite native plants, trees and grasses – Stringybarks (Eucalyptus ovata), Correa alba, Westringia fructose, Cousin It (Casuarina glauca) and more – the key was to work with the more challenging coastal climate rather than against it.

“Don’t try too hard to be smarter than nature. Work with what is at hand, use local plants first, try some others, and take notice of what is going on in the neighbourhood and the natural landscape…”

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