Create an aesthetically attractive garden with a Japanese flavour that changes with the seasons. Include a second entertaining area in winter (courtyard) with the ability to produce herbs, vegetables, and citrus fruit.
I chatted with Michelle and Mike, and we walked through four separate garden areas that needed renovation. They wanted a garden that contained vegetables and herbs so that they could provide fresh produce for their family, but it had to look stylish too.
There was to be a second entertainment area where the existing courtyard was currently covered in artificial lawn. The main entrance garden had to have a ‘wow’ factor, and the side garden where the master bedroom’s bathroom was located needed to provide privacy from neighbours.
The largest part of the garden was on the eastern side, and with the house being two-storey, no vegetable could grow effectively with less than 2 hours of full sun.
The house was in an elevated position 3 kilometers from the beach in Floreat. This position meant salt-laden sea breezes and scorching afternoon sun. The front and back gardens had two gates but no paths and these areas needed to be linked.
After discussions about low light on the eastern side (the entrance and major part of the garden) we developed the concept that enabled the owners to have a potable fruit and vegetable garden on the western side (a large-scale balcony area), which was where all the light was and bring their time in Japan to fruition on the eastern side.
The southern side provided privacy outside the bathroom windows with existing bamboo, with the addition of pavers for access, and the north courtyard with feature paving and a firepit acted as a second entertaining area in winter.
The very shaded eastern (entry to the property) was problematic. As the owners both loved the gardens they had seen on their skiing trips to Japan, I suggested including some classic Japanese Maple, Gingko, and life-size bonsai as the feature trees of the garden with a traditional stone creek bed. These very delicate trees had an enormous barrier of two storey residence in the way of any sea breeze and the hot afternoon Perth sun, and on the other side, large Eucalypt trees and bush blocked the dry summer easterly. Two summers on and not a burnt leaf on the very stunning but rarely used maples.
We were also looking for a mix of old Japanese themes of irregularity combined with new, sleek architecture. How would a wonderfully rectilinear-designed Peter Stannard home cope with such a contrast of random curves and shapes?
Seamlessly it would seem, as we followed the lines and shapes of the existing architecture with the garden beds and paving alignment and then contrasted that with the curves of the creek bed, random feature tree placement, and odd rather than even plant choice groupings of juniper, azalea, and ferns.
On the west facing balcony, I suggested circular planter pots with various citrus trees interspersed with some long slender, rectangular planters for vegetables and herbs in between, as this area would receive maximum sunlight hours.
The north-facing courtyard was designed to act as a second entertaining area with visual appeal (as it is seen from three directions via windows). It contains randomly shaped bluestone steppers with dichondra filling the gaps and a central corten steel firepit for autumn and winter entertaining. As you walk from the entry garden to the middle courtyard, the steppers change from a regulation square to a more random shaped bluestone paver.
Michelle and Mike love their garden and have an original decommissioned ski lift chair from Thredbo restored at the entrance to sit on the front verandah. The front section is lit at night, which provides another sensory experience.
The garden features
Three bonsai junipers as a mini forest
A 4-foot high Coastal She oak (WA Native)- Bonsai specimen
A Gingko Bilbao (Maidenhair tree) and weeping Beech Elm which both produce yellow leaves in autumn.
Three Japanese Maples with brilliant orange and red foliage in autumn.
Groundcovers such as baby tears, dichondra, irish moss, miniature and standard mondo grass.
Azaleas, Camelias, sacred bamboo, Star Jasmine.
The citrus grove includes a lemon, lime, mandarin, grapefruit, and cumquat.
Rectangular Plante boxes filled with various herbs and vegetables to take advantage of the suuny western aspect of the balcony.
A Corten Steel circular fire pit which double as table in the courtyard area when not in use.