Beyond the instructions to create a green ‘sanctuary’ to cocoon a new Blairgowrie home, there wasn’t much in the way of site or client brief to curb the creativity of landscape designer Ian Barker.

‘The block itself was exceptionally large for the area, which provided our team with an extended creative license to create something unique,’ says Ian. ‘Since we didn’t have the natural landscape of Mornington Peninsula’s coastline to compete with, we were able to design and develop an eclectic garden that provided a view just as worthy.’

One of the primary goals of the design was to retain as much of the existing flora and fauna as possible. The block was relatively untouched before they began, so Ian and his team focussed their attention on taming the landscape into functional ‘pockets’, while some plantings (like the established Moonah trees) were left untouched as structural pillars of the design.

Ian’s garden layout comprised six key areas: an undercover outdoor entertaining area with an in-built barbecue; an expansive lawn area full of vibrant native plants; a concrete pod housing a rooftop terrace to overlook the large pool and spa area on and the rear garden (the pod also doubles as an excellent sunset deck!); and a fire-pit surrounded by bluestone pavers and timber benches creates a cosy night-time nook.

Sea box and lemon scented gums were among the natives incorporated into the final design, while lavender cotton and bellybuttons added colour, black tupelo trees introduced new textures, Boston ivy concealed the hard polished concrete wall behind the pool and kidney weeds ‘create a mat of lush green foliage to tie the landscape together.’

These structured zones and tumbling greenery are kept shielded from the street to create an element of surprise for visitors. The house (designed by Powell and Glenn, constructed by Belair Builders, and interiors designed by Watts Studio) shields the backyard from view and the front garden is deliberately kept understated  to ensure real contrast with the wonderland at the rear. This was done to ensure a ‘secret garden feel’ when visitors moved through the house to the back, where the garden opens up with colourful flowers, natives and robust greenery.

‘Except for the garage and front gate, in five years a passerby would likely be unaware of the sanctuary hidden amongst the trees,’ says Ian. A delightful, layered and secluded retreat buried in coastland!

The Blairgowrie Garden by Ian Barker Gardens is shortlisted in the Landscape Design category of The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards, supported by Eco Outdoor. See the full list of nominees here.

Learn more about Ian Barker Gardens here.

This Blairgowrie block is bigger than most properties in the area, and the clients wanted the garden to be a green sanctuary rather than a support network for ocean views. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

The garden comprises six key zones: a pool and spa area, a concrete pool pod, an expansive lawn, a flower garden, a fire pit, and an outdoor entertaining area. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

Native flowers add colour and softness to the robust material and planting palette. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

Like an interior designer zones a house, Ian Barker created pockets in this garden for each activity. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

Limestone, polished concrete and timber are the key materials used in the house. Ian incorporated these same elements throughout the garden to create consistency between the landscape and architecture. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

The house was designed by Powell and Glenn and constructed by Belair Builders. The interiors designed by Watts Studio. Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

The concrete pool pod doubles as a sunset deck! Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

The front garden is deliberately understated and the house shields the back garden from view when seen from the street. This creates an element of surprise for visitors, when the wonderland unfolds itself as they move through the house! Photo – Sharyn Cairns.

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