This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Perfect Family Garden In Camberwell

Gardens

We feature a host of architecturally extended homes, so it’s a joy to highlight a designed garden that responds so thoughtfully to a renovation.

Not overdone, nor too sparing, this outdoor oasis Ian Barker has created to complement a family home in Camberwell is just perfect!

4th December, 2018

Lush, perennial planting augments an enticing and beautiful family garden. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

A mix of textural grassy planting including Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’, Poa ‘Eskdale’ and Miscanthus ‘Klein Fontaine’) separates the lawn and tennis court areas. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

Lush, perennial planting augments an enticing and beautiful family garden. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

The sculptural form of the crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) contrasts beautifully with the fine, textural grasses in this Camberwell garden. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

The sculptural steel gateway defines the transition between the front, more formal garden, and the wilder rear garden. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

An outdoor pavilion designed by Herbert and Howes connects seamlessly with the lush garden designed by Ian Barker Gardens. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

‘The garden was designed for kids to run through,’ Ian Barker says. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

Full, flowery and romantic planting in the front garden borders includes Helenium ‘Mahogany’, Aster x frikartii Monc, Rudbeckia cvs. and Iris germanica ‘Saturn’. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

Full, flowery and romantic planting in the front garden borders. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

Bluestone stepping stones engulfed by Viola hederaceae. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

A pink flowering crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica). Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

A raised, wet-edge pool is separated from the tennis court with a retractable net – a neat use of space. Photo – Claire Takacs, courtesy of Ian Barker Gardens.

Georgina Reid
Tuesday 4th December 2018

‘We’re not fussed about trends, we’re not driven by that… The garden design has to suit the house. It has to be a good marriage.’ – Ian Barker.

Over-cooked. It’s a word landscape designer Ian Barker tells me he ends up using often. It’s not a description I often associate with the design of gardens but I love it – it says a lot. There’s little worse than over-cooked design (or cake, for that matter). This garden, surrounding a gorgeous old home in the Melbourne suburb of Camberwell, is, according to Ian, baked to perfection.

Ian and his team at Ian Barker Gardens were engaged by the owners of the property in 2015 to design and build a garden for their large family in 2015. Responding to new additions to this gorgeous old home by architects Herbert and Howes, the garden’s lines are simple and elegant. ‘We really toned down the garden,’ Ian says. ‘It’s restrained, yet it has a huge impact.’ Part of the success of the garden, according to Ian, is its relationship with the architecture. ‘Without the backdrop of the pavilion, the garden wouldn’t look anywhere near as good as it does today’, he says.

At the front of the property, the garden is relatively formal, echoing the balance and symmetry of the home’s façade, with clipped box hedges and two pyramid box topiaries framing the front door. ‘Once you get away from the front entrance, the garden gets quite wild’, Ian says. There’s the children’s play area, a woodland garden, a formal lawn framed by grass gardens and more. The clients have four children and according to Ian, ‘The garden was designed for kids to run through. They run through the woodland, through the door linking the old and new elements of the property, and out onto the lawn at the back.’

The loose planting was very much encouraged by Ian’s clients. Whilst the simple lines of the space, and the connection between the architecture, old and new, were important to Ian and his team, his client wanted wild. ‘Our client said, “the wilder the better”.’

Wild in this garden means loose, atmospheric planting combinations of grasses like Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’, Poa ‘Eskdale’ and Miscanthus ‘Klein Fontaine’. It also means seasonality – something that these lush and full images don’t quite capture. In winter, Ian’s team cut back the perennials, and grassy plantings are chopped hard to the ground. ‘All you see is dirt. Our clients wholeheartedly accept this. I can’t stress enough how wonderful the clients are. They’re extraordinarily trusting.’

A canopy of mature trees and a great balance between hard landscaping and lush planting lends a sense of depth and timelessness to this garden. It doesn’t look it, but it’s actually only two years old! It is a garden that, like the house it surrounds, is destined to get better with age. ‘We’re not fussed about trends, we’re not driven by that,’ Ian says. ‘The garden design has to suit the house. It has to be a good marriage. Once we get that right, we try hard to soften it. We’ll put green in wherever we can. So, our gardens just get better and better over the years.’ And this garden, according to Ian, is pretty darn special. ‘I think this is one of our best.’

This Week

Art

Announcing The Finalists For The Record-Breaking 2020 Archibald Prize

From 1068 entries, the 55 shortlisted artworks for Australia's most prestigious portraiture prize have been unveiled!

Interiors

A Spectacular, Art-Filled Home In Melbourne's Outer Suburbs

Interior design extraordinaire Chelsea Hing conducts a sweeping transformation of this sprawling family home in the Victorian suburb of Park...
Sasha Gattermayr

Art

Intricate Bark Artwork From The 'Top End', On Show At Koskela

'Top End Bugi' at Koskela showcases 36 incredible bark artworks from three art centres in Arnhem Land.

Interiors

The Cosy New Australian-Made Sofa Range, Inspired By Togetherness

Jean-Pierre Biasol talks us through his lush new collection of locally manufactured sofas - inspired by the feeling of companionship!
Sasha Gattermayr

Building Better

The Best Building Materials For A Sustainable Home

From rammed earth to concrete, which building material is the most environmentally friendly? The answers may surprise you...

Homes

A Local Post Office Transformed Into A Meaningful Family Home

How photographer Alexandrena Parker, and carpenter Michael Riseley, turned a rundown former post office in Beaconsfield Upper, Victoria, int...

Shopping

Create Your Own Salon Wall With These Affordable, Vintage-Inspired Artworks

Interior designer and stylist Jono Fleming pioneers a new affordable art alternative, with the launch of his limited-edition, stretched-canv...
Sasha Gattermayr

Sustainable Homes

A Sustainable Inner-Suburban Home, Designed To Be Deconstructed + Reused

Rammed earth and recycled timber come together in this creekside Melbourne home by Breathe Architecture.

Homes

A Creative Couple's Lovingly Renovated 1950's Home

Lucy Spartalis and Alastair Innes of She Takes Pictures He Makes Films share their renovated 1950s home in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges.
Lucy Feagins
  4 hours ago

Food

Julia's Salmon + Potato Spring Salad With Yoghurt Dressing

A versatile salad of salmon, potatoes and vibrant zesty greens from Julia Busuttil Nishimura.
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Gardens

A Dreamy, Generous Coastal Garden

This Mollymook property's incredible front garden by Dangar Barin Smith has inadvertently become a local tourist destination.

Architecture

An Action-Packed, Compact City Home

A formerly unliveable art deco house in Northcote gets a major overhaul by Rob Kennon Architects.

News

Jardan's Stunning New Perth Showroom Is A Terrazzo Palace!

The champions of modern Australian furniture design open the doors on their first West Coast flagship.

News

This Wiggly Coatstand Can Be Anything You Want It To Be

Student designer Brigitte Owers-Buccianti has launched her furniture brand Real Non-Real with a versatile piece of industrial-inspired furni...

Architecture

An Open-Plan Home Partially Inspired By A Hitchcock Film!

Modo Architecture challenge the standard open floor plan in this Melbourne family home – taking partial inspiration from the house featur...
Amelia Barnes
  20 hours ago

View Comments

Similar Stories

Gardens

The Bondi Garden Of Landscape Designer William Dangar

The well-known landscape designer's abundant Sydney garden - encased in lush foliage!
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Wriedt Garden in Eaglemont

An ever-evolving project, this garden is the result of a 25 year collaboration between garden designer Sharon Harris and her client.
Georgina Reid

Creative People

Painting The Landscape With Acre Designs

We chat to the Fitzroy-based landscape architecture firm behind some of our favourite gardens.
Miriam McGarry

This Week

Interiors

The Cosy New Australian-Made Sofa Range, Inspired By Togetherness

Jean-Pierre Biasol talks us through his lush new collection of locally manufactured sofas - inspired by the feeling of companionship!
Sasha Gattermayr

Art

Intricate Bark Artwork From The 'Top End', On Show At Koskela

'Top End Bugi' at Koskela showcases 36 incredible bark artworks from three art centres in Arnhem Land.

Homes

A Local Post Office Transformed Into A Meaningful Family Home

How photographer Alexandrena Parker, and carpenter Michael Riseley, turned a rundown former post office in Beaconsfield Upper, Victoria, int...

News

This Wiggly Coatstand Can Be Anything You Want It To Be

Student designer Brigitte Owers-Buccianti has launched her furniture brand Real Non-Real with a versatile piece of industrial-inspired furni...

Interiors

A Spectacular, Art-Filled Home In Melbourne's Outer Suburbs

Interior design extraordinaire Chelsea Hing conducts a sweeping transformation of this sprawling family home in the Victorian suburb of Park...
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

An Open-Plan Home Partially Inspired By A Hitchcock Film!

Modo Architecture challenge the standard open floor plan in this Melbourne family home – taking partial inspiration from the house featur...
Amelia Barnes
  20 hours ago

Gardens

A Dreamy, Generous Coastal Garden

This Mollymook property's incredible front garden by Dangar Barin Smith has inadvertently become a local tourist destination.

News

Jardan's Stunning New Perth Showroom Is A Terrazzo Palace!

The champions of modern Australian furniture design open the doors on their first West Coast flagship.

Architecture

An Action-Packed, Compact City Home

A formerly unliveable art deco house in Northcote gets a major overhaul by Rob Kennon Architects.

Food

Julia's Salmon + Potato Spring Salad With Yoghurt Dressing

A versatile salad of salmon, potatoes and vibrant zesty greens from Julia Busuttil Nishimura.
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Homes

A Creative Couple's Lovingly Renovated 1950's Home

Lucy Spartalis and Alastair Innes of She Takes Pictures He Makes Films share their renovated 1950s home in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges.
Lucy Feagins
  4 hours ago

Sustainable Homes

A Sustainable Inner-Suburban Home, Designed To Be Deconstructed + Reused

Rammed earth and recycled timber come together in this creekside Melbourne home by Breathe Architecture.

Art

Announcing The Finalists For The Record-Breaking 2020 Archibald Prize

From 1068 entries, the 55 shortlisted artworks for Australia's most prestigious portraiture prize have been unveiled!

Building Better

The Best Building Materials For A Sustainable Home

From rammed earth to concrete, which building material is the most environmentally friendly? The answers may surprise you...

Shopping

Create Your Own Salon Wall With These Affordable, Vintage-Inspired Artworks

Interior designer and stylist Jono Fleming pioneers a new affordable art alternative, with the launch of his limited-edition, stretched-canv...
Sasha Gattermayr

Similar Stories

Gardens

The Bondi Garden Of Landscape Designer William Dangar

The well-known landscape designer's abundant Sydney garden - encased in lush foliage!
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Wriedt Garden in Eaglemont

A 25 year collaboration between garden designer Sharon Harris and her client.
Georgina Reid

Creative People

Painting The Landscape With Acre Designs

We chat to the Fitzroy-based landscape architecture firm behind some of our favourite gardens.
Miriam McGarry

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.