March 8, 2016
Within walking distance of Mills Beach, this contemporary Mornington residence has stunning views of the bay and distant glimpses of the city at night. The client had just purchased the property when we became involved in the outdoor redesign of the front and rear gardens as well as the overall refurbishment of the exterior architecture. As in many of our projects with an existing building, our first priority is to consider and research wall colours, materials and possible structural elements such as pergolas or climbing frames even before we begin sketching the layout of the garden. This process ensures every aspect of the architecture and landscape relationship is acknowledged and explored to ensure a seamless outcome.
The beautiful timber cladding of the house became the foundation of our materials and plants colour palette – with soft grey sandstone, silver decking and predominantly coastal planting we created our own contemporary take to the relaxed family garden.
The main brief for the front garden was to incorporate an open forecourt/parking area as the space was at the time restricted by several large cypress trees limiting light access and planting opportunities. Once the trees were removed, we designed a defined driveway area detailed with strips of limestone and light grey exposed aggregate. To the east we laid out a woodland of birches underplanted with shade loving infill planting (i.e. Helleborus, Ajuga) and evergreen framework shapes. An antique Chinese water bowl central to the woodland gives the final touch to the tranquil south facing garden.
To the rear, the living room opens up onto a decked area framed by a simple black metal climbing frame covered in ornamental vines (Vitis coignetiae) with views to the sky blue swimming pool. To benefit from the level change in the rear, we split the garden in two levels, designing a protected pool enclosure in the lower level and an open lawn space on the upper area. A clean timber picket fence interlocked with strands of Stephanotis floribunda and a low stonewall separate the two areas, giving depth and layers to the otherwise relatively small rear garden. The open lawn area is framed on the house side by a row of three tall Olive trees that act as wind and sun breaks to north facing windows. A long custom designed timber bench to the east (also mirrored in the pool area to the west) allows you to seat back and enjoy the informal, intimate space.