An Earthy, Low Maintenance Garden In Victoria’s Macedon Ranges

‘The original garden was a little disjointed with roses and camellias along the front of the house in garden beds that were often sunbaked in summer and heavy fog and mist in winter’, Kathleen Murphy explains of the site she was brought on to transform. ‘The garden needed to be refreshed, and to feel more welcoming to visitors, who sometimes got confused as to where the front door was!’

Kathleen set about connecting the garden to the house and its materials. ‘The use of natural materials links directly to the architecture of the home, and helps to anchor down the building,’ she says. Referencing the ‘beautiful Castlemaine stone’ from which the home is made, a custom-designed water rill runs outside the windows of the Master suite, also enjoyed by visitors as they meander through a curving gravel path to the front door.

The garden harmoniously connects with the wider landscape, built around access to the incredible views. ‘By framing the view, we were able to make it feel even more powerful’, Kathleen explains. ‘We directed views of the garden and the landscape beyond by screening out unsightly water tanks, and we planted trees on the edges blocking out the wind but not the scenery’.

The extreme conditions of the area was a major challenge for creating a healthy, robust garden. Summer temperatures can soar to over 40 degrees, and drop to -4 degrees in the winter with heavy frost and snow, while winds can dry out the soil. In addition to this, the area is prone to bushfires, which has been a cause of concern for the clients. Kathleen answered these by mass-planting easy-care plants, such as Dianella Cassa Blue and Lomandra Tanika, and by mulching the garden with stone to assist in managing weeds, whilst being fire retardant.

Kathleen has a special talent for designing interactive gardens that truly connect people with garden spaces, creating special moments and pathways that engage and delight. In this case, one of Kathleen’s favourite elements is the journey to the front entrance. ‘The meandering path through grasses that move with the breeze is really engaging and beautiful’, she explains poetically. ‘But mostly I love how the client nurtures and cares for the garden, they have really taken this design and made it their own’.

Kathleen is a finalist in the Landscape Design category of the TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2020 for her own garden! You can read our full feature on this beautiful garden here


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