Blairgowrie Garden

Creating something completely in tune with the spirit of the local environment drove the garden design of this beach house on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. The brief essentially required a sustainable design that would be sympathetic to its local environment; it’s setting of sand dunes and sea view.

Built around six years ago the owners have felt that the interior took precedence over the exterior. The owners desired a striking, low-maintenance garden that would blend into the environment, picking up on the form and colours of the coastal tea tree vegetation.

To maximize functionality the owners recently expanded the rear deck, which not only provides more room to enjoy the outdoor space, but also emphasises the panoramic coastal view of the property. With the decking expansion a spa was also built, designed to match the stone chimney, it provides a private means of cooling off during summer days when it is too hot for the beach and draws the owner’s outdoors in the cooler winter months.

Beneath the deck a meandering rock path links two rear access gates, which were installed to create a bath down to the foreshore and easy access for neighbours, given that they are friendly with their neighbours on both sides.

This garden features a simple palette dominated by native plantings, among which local materials, such as tea tree, coastal detritus and recycled rocks have been used to imbue it with a sense of place and create sculptural elements. As coastal gardens are generally harsh environments for plants, retaining as much existing indigenous vegetation as possible should be a priority. Native plants have adapted to the climate and environment in a number of ways so are more sustainable than many exotics. As the design of a coastal garden is about acknowledging the broader landscape setting, preserving views and designing an outward-looking space, natives will also help to visually settle a property into its coastal environment, anchoring it to its site.

Since we had worked with the clients previously, we were given much free reign and worked directly on site, without a formal plan. With the clients wishes in mind we knew what elements we had to work with, envisaged how the garden would look and allowed it to evolve from there. The overall design of the garden is simple and informal, resulting in an interesting, textured garden that has the potential to flourish in its dry coastal setting.