A Fragrant, Inner-City Garden Rejuvenates This Heritage Home

Faced with the task of rejuvenating the front and rear courtyards of a 140-year-old home in East Melbourne, landscape architect Nadia Gill looked first to the existing architecture at both ends of the plot.

‘A key factor of the landscape design was to ensure a fluid transition from indoor to outdoor spaces,’ she explains, pointing out the differences between the original Victorian facade and the contemporary extension (recently completed by WALA). ‘In the courtyard, this was achieved with the continuation of architectural details, such as large pivoting glass doors, consistent paving materials and a seamless in-situ concrete bench.’ As a result the rear garden is almost like an outdoor room.

The concrete bench seat flows easily from the rear indoor living space into the garden, fringed by a shield of Boston ivy creeping up the wall behind it. This piece of in-built furniture faces a shallow reflection pool, which emits an ambient, bubbling water trickle. Functional elements of the house are craftily concealed by botanical elements, most notably the car port, which is covered by a veil of star jasmine. An abundance of gardenias added below the old apple tree in the rear corner add to this rich, floral aroma.

While the raised terrace courtyard could contain a few contemporary flourishes, there were more strict limitations when considering the entry garden. ‘Careful consideration was given to heritage aspects of the landscape, to ensure it suited the visual character of East Melbourne,’ Nadia explains.

As such, plantings for the front garden were selected to suit the home’s historical facade, as well as its south-facing outlook. A traditional palette of soft green foliage is relaxed by a more modern arrangement of cammellias, orange jessamine hedges, oak-leaf hydrangeas, rock lily shrubs and a dichondra ground cover.

For the renewed front garden to reach its full potential, a few built elements were also updated. The original wrought iron fence was restored, and the tessellated tiling on the verandah was replaced with new tiles, in the same pattern but a more contemporary colour scheme. Sawn bluestone pavers were also installed to replace those in the preexisting damaged pathway.

This serene garden is a welcome natural sanctuary from the city just beyond its walls!

See more projects from Nadia Gill here.


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