Garden Design Portfolio

The portfolio shows a range of gardens.  The level and nature of my input has also been a range – some people engaged me to do virtually all the design and project management, and at the other end of the spectrum others have used Pam or I more as a “sounding board” for their ideas

Private retreat 

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A restful retreat with complete privacy was the request for this garden.  A reminder of northern Italian heritage particularly of Nona’s mountain village was wanted, along with culinary herbs and fruit trees. A respectful place for a statue of Bhudda, and a layout complying with Feng Shui principles were also wanted. The garden is a lot smaller than it looks.


Contemporary house and complimentary garden

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The owners were extremely happy with their architect-designed house with beautiful rural views, and wanted a garden to compliment the contemporary look, while settling it into its surroundings.  The garden was to be low maintenance and would receive no supplementary watering.  The garden was not to interrupt the views from inside the house, as the architect had framed those views well already.  The planting in Pam’s design compliments rather than competes with the house for visual attention. The photos here, taken in 2010 show the garden has thrived despite the drought.



Re-imagining the suburban ideal 

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This charming but once ordinary old suburban house was renovated and extended to achieve minimum environmental impact while creating an extremely comfortable and beautiful house for the young family. The garden had to enhance this further. Water collection and recycling, food growing, space for "free-range play", as well as 2 inner courtyards, one for the calming views into it and cooling effect, the other for family dining and entertaining, integrate the garden fully with the life of the family.


Elegant clean and inviting

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The rather plain but well-built house was being extensively renovated and extended when the new owners contacted me. Potentially beautiful views over the Southern Vales vineyards were hidden entirely by a jungle of huge tangled trees on what is now the front lawn.  Elegant, clean and inviting was the mood they wanted, but to maintain a degree of privacy from the road, over which the views were to be seen. The back yard was a sloping lawn that crammed the back verandah and created drainage problems. It’s now a favourite spot for a cup of tea or glass of wine.



Gracious Hills Garden

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Over the years the clients, their gardener and I have together developed a gracious, yet unpretentious garden that suits their lives and tastes well. There are lots of flowers to bring inside, beautiful hills views and many smaller "gardens" within the larger garden discovered by strolling around.



Setting for a swimming pool 

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The owners wanted a good-sized swimming pool and a garden to surround it. The house had a charming Spanish influence, but being a distance from the house, shelter and dining space was needed. Recycled native hard-wood has been used for the pool fencing in combination with land reshaping so as to settle it all comfortably with the style of the house.



In the Country

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The owners bought this property for its potential and saw that it could have beautiful views from the verandah over a new garden to the landscape beyond. But masses of weedy growth and infrastructure needed to be cleared first.  The sweeping informal lawns, chunky rose arbor and rustic fencing, along with the choice of plants for flower and foliage colour and low-water demand, all serve to flow the garden into its surroundings.  Judicious use of permanent and temporary fence enables livestock in the adjoining paddock to keep the grass down while enabling uninterrupted visual flow from the garden into the paddock when the animals are not present. Use of native plants inside the garden also links the garden with the Red Gums along the river just beyond.



Restoration respects an existing mood

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The owners of this hills property loved their quirky old garden but recognised it was being consumed by feral trees and the many retaining walls were collapsing.  As far as they knew, Scottish migrants had built the house and garden around 1937. Flat space outside was very restricted and there was nowhere to enjoy the garden except while walking around its narrow crumbling paths.
New structurally sound dry-stack walls were built from local stone, paths and steps of rough-finished concrete, brick and stone replaced the crumbling old ones, the patio extended, and a grotto was worked into one of those walls.  A simple steel pergola was added to provide summer shade while allowing winter sun, and to make the entrance more inviting.  Most beds have been replanted and include masses of bulbs.



Natives and sweeping curves

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The architect designed house was a sweeping arc settled into the side of a steep block with distant views over the city.  The owners wanted a garden to compliment the house using mostly native plants.  I also designed the front gate, and front door (both shown) to compliment the garden and architecture. The rainwater tank, just slightly below the house, was an opportunity for a round terrace and sculpture to “capture alive” the view beyond.


A non-gardeners front garden

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The brief for this garden was, “A front garden of low-growing native plants to be viewed from inside the house as well as from the road and approach paths.”  Very low maintenance was also required.



Garden in marina

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Located at a marina development the owners wanted an “almost no-maintenance” garden with room for grandchildren to play, a boat to be moored and wide-open coastal feeling. Mostly native species have been used. Unfortunately, the encumbrances precluded the use of a single majestic Gum for shade and depth of view that both the clients and I would have preferred.



Abundant seasonal flowers in tough conditions

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On top of a hill, this windy site had extremely shallow and poor soil over sandstone. The owners wanted abundant flowers, protection and privacy for the pool. Being adjacent big windows of the new very modern living area of the house, it needs to be interesting and changing all year, while sitting well with the more traditional garden elsewhere on the property. Perennials and bulbs have been selected and located to achieve a succession of colour schemes and displays throughout the year. Hedges and a few clipped shapes have been planted to eventually frame views and add a sense of stability to the whole composition.



A Japanese pond in hills valley

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In 1985 the owners asked me “what would you do with this area?”; a leaking dam in a steep valley below a permanent spring-fed creek. It was one of those wonderful moments where the vision just presented itself.  We waited until after my Rotary Exchange Study Tour to Japan before confirming the details and commencing work on this “Japanese-influenced” pond garden.  My clients have since moved on so the pictures here are reproduced from old slides.
This and other parts of the 4Ha garden won us the Landscape of the Year Award.



Setting for a “Chinese Bell”

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The owners of this garden had acquired this gorgeous Chinese bell, and wanted a setting for it in their otherwise very “un-Asian looking” garden.



Rejuvenating an established garden

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There were a number of big old trees to work with in this large suburban garden, with many more well past restoration. The garden is designed to complement the colours and style of the house, create a spacious and calm atmosphere, inviting views in from the road while privacy for the houses windows and sitting areas in the garden.




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Testimonials from people I have and still work with.


About Steve Hailstone gives my background and influences.

Niwajiri, my garden gives an in-depth look at my approach to garden design through the example of our own garden “Niwajiri”.