My Garden

Landscape designs in the limelight

With The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020 winners being announced in November, we put a spotlight on the shortlisted projects in the Landscape Design Category where native flora is part of the formula for success…

Celebrating Australian design and creativity for more than a decade, The Design Files is a pioneer for profiling the country’s most talented architects, interior designers, furniture designers, craft practitioners, textile designers, stylists and art directors.  Earlier this year, their annual awards program created to champion creativity, sustainability and innovation drew over 500 entries in 10 varied categories. Respected industry figures were tasked with judging entries to recognise and unearth the best in the fields of residential architecture,  interior design, lighting, furniture and textile design, the handcrafted and sustainable – and landscape design.

With a judging panel including renowned garden designer Paul Bangay, Georgina Reid, creator of The Planthunter and William Dangar of Dangar Barin Smith, the landscape design category sought to award one standout Australian Landscape Design project – either residential, public or community garden.  Eleven finalists were announced, with several shortlisted gardens around the country featuring Australian natives. The overall winner ‘Native Retreat Garden Studio’ by landscape designer, Kathleen Murphy artfully blends sense of place with a variety of native flora and exotics.

“Australian Landscape Design has definitely shifted over the past few years, we’re seeing a lot more emphasis on drought-tolerant gardens, and native plants, which impart an incredible texture in contemporary gardens. It’s great to see landscape designers really rising to the challenge of designing resilient outdoor environments for our unique and changing climate,” says The Design Files founder, Lucy Feagins.

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The winning Native-Retreat Garden Studio by Kathleen Murphy Landscape Design: exploring what an Australian garden can be…

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The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020: Landscape Design

Winner ~ Kathleen Murphy Landscape Design, ‘Native Retreat-Studio Garden’

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.

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The Dune House, by Acre: refined but not out of place in its setting. It’s soft and calm yet impactful and functional…

The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020: Landscape Design

Finalist ~ Acre, ‘The Dune House’

This new property on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula was intended to be a new take on coastal garden design, “something that wasn’t out of place but still felt stylish, refined with an almost European design intent” says the Acre team.

Acre have a deft hand at combining hard architectural elements, structural details and stylised planting palettes to connect their garden designs to the landscape. But this project needed careful consideration to activate a difficult sloping sand dune site, balancing form and function to create a collection of outside rooms that includes a pool area, decking and lawn for young children to play.  Texture, contrast and loose, emotive plantings are a signature style and here Acre’s planting palette wanted to create a new coastal direction not seen in other gardens on the Peninsula. Native and indigenous plants were selected, matched with exotic and perennial grasses and flowers that would all handle the harsh coastal conditions, have a low water requirement – and importantly provide an ageless style that won’t date.  Gum trees sit together with olive trees, shrubs and grasses include native correas,  Austrostipa stipoides and Westringia fruticosa ‘grey box’ alongside Brazilian verbena; boston ivy and creeping thyme with native coastal rosemary.

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The Composed Garden by Kate Seddon Landscape Design: redesigned to be inviting, intriguing and enhance the connection between inside and out…

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The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020: Landscape Design

Finalist ~ Kate Seddon Landscape Design, ‘The Composed Garden’

Inspired by their travels, the owners of ‘The Composed Garden’ sought the landscape aesthetics of Japan and Denmark to drive a redesign of their existing family garden.

The principles of simplicity, a natural material palette, asymmetry, celebration of seasonality – all were drawn on by landscape designer Kate Seddon to soften and link existing spaces within and outside the house. The final result creates an environment for calm and contemplation, a far cry from the previous functional garden that housed a pool, spa and inground trampoline.

Existing feature trees and hedging were maintained and the pool truncated before bespoke paving, naturalistic setting of boulders and sinuous pathways to connect garden spaces were added. Additional plantings in a predominantly all green palette combine to create an elegant quietness to this suburban garden. The exotic plant selection brings the Japanese aesthetic to life, while a surprising collection of Australian natives has been used to add the final flourishes.  Mounds of ground covers and grasses soften feature trees, add textural interest to paving and blur the boundaries between the surrounding house and outdoor spaces. Dichondra repens, Myoporum Parvifolium ‘Yareena’, Lomandra ‘Frosty Top’ and ‘Lime Turf’ are amongst the native plantings that help make ‘The Composed Garden’ vision a living reality.


More on The Design Files + Laminex 2020 Design Awards, other categories, winners and finalists here.