When designing urban and suburban gardens, the greatest challenge is usually working within tricky, compact spaces. Sam Cox of Sam Cox Landscape did not encounter that problem with his latest project: a generous rolling block in Northcote bursting at the boundaries with ancient trees and luscious plantings. His clients were a couple of avid amateur gardeners who were keen to engage a professional to connect the new extension of their residence to an unmanicured patch of the extensive back garden.

‘We were asked to come and make some additions to the existing garden during a renovation of the house,’ Sam explains of the arrangement. ‘The house was being extended, and our work was to connect both the garden extension and the house extension together, while giving them a level of separation, visually.’

The clients had already made significant additions to their lush block, so Sam and his team inherited a thoughtful planting palette comprising an ancient, well-tended fig tree, slender peppercorns and various other canopy trees.

The landscape designer’s work was therefore concentrated largely at the rear of the plot, where towering trees beyond the site set a wild, natural backdrop to the residential garden, and conjured the illusion of a bushland setting. In order to mask any signifiers of urban density (and proximity to neighbours!), Sam emphasises the erasure of the fenceline as key to his design. By covering the corrugated iron partitions with medium height plantings, and lining the boundary with low-lying fernery, the fence is almost completely obscured from view. The majority of the existing exotics from the original garden stayed put, complemented by a mixture of natives favoured across Sam’s designs. This lush arena sets the scene for the garden’s piece de resistance: a jaw-dropping natural pool!

‘We decided on a natural rock pool to sit in the lower corner of the garden, and allow for reflection leading up to the house,’ says Sam, crediting the water space with balancing the landscape in tone and material. The pool is edged by basalt boulders, with biotope slate from Castlemaine lining the submerged walls and floor. Owing to a biofilter tap system installed from Natural Swimming Pools Australia, the pool’s crystalline waters reflect the surrounding plantings and rockbeds like a mirror and the whole scene shimmers with an ethereal, emerald light.

The resulting garden is almost preternatural in its peacefulness. Shrouded in greenery, and glittering reflections from the rippled water surface, this serene new design makes everything feel like it’s been there forever.

Love this garden as much as we do? Take a look at more projects from Sam Cox Landscapes here.



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