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A Layered Garden, Designed Around A Liquidambar Tree

Gardens

Walking through this Camberwell garden mirrors the experience of entering the actual house, offering a journey reflective of the property’s architectural heritage.

The richly layered planting scheme in the front garden is tailored to the house’s ornate Victorian facade, while the pared back rear garden resembles the property’s contemporary extension. Underpinning the entire project is an existing mature Liquidambar tree in the front yard.

Ben Scott, principal designer of Ben Scott Garden Design, reveals the philosophy behind this majestic space.

14th January, 2020

The front garden is tailored to the home’s ornate Victorian facade. Photo – Simon Griffiths

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Helleborus orientalis, Ajuga ‘Catlins Giant’, Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’, Lomandra ‘Tanika’, Verbena bonariensis, Liriope muscari are among plant species in the front garden Photo – Simon Griffiths

More species in the front garden include Hydrangea quercifolia, Euphorbia wulfenii, Miscanthus sinensis, Eupatorium atrorubens, Hydrangea macrophylla, Plectranthus ecklonii, Lilium philippinense, and Arthropodium cirratum. Photo – Simon Griffiths

The front garden essentially forms one large garden bed beneath the outstretched branches of an exisiting Liquidambar tree.  Photo – Simon Griffiths

Pyrus chanticleer are used as pleached deciduous hedges along the side boundaries. Photo – Simon Griffiths

The rear garden is much more pared back, working with the simplicity of the house’s contemporary addition. Photo – Simon Griffiths

All the built outdoor elements have also been designed by Ben Scott Garden Design. Photo – Simon Griffiths

This garden was completed four years ago, over which time the plants have matured and adjustments have been made. Photo – Simon Griffiths

The home’s renovation was designed by Ilario G Cortese Architects. Construction by Simon McCurdy Landscapes. Photo – Simon Griffiths

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 14th January 2020

‘You can get plants to grow under established trees. It just requires strong horticultural knowledge.’ – Ben Scott

When designing a garden on a 1000-square metre block, it’s tempting to allocate large expanses to a lawn. In this garden however, Ben Scott Garden Design has created distinct zones reflective of the accompanying home’s varied architecture.

The inspiration for the entire project began with an existing mature Liquidambar tree. Ben designed the project (literally and metaphorically) around this tree, with the front garden essentially forming one large garden bed beneath its outstretched branches.

Ben says getting plants to grow under this tree, while managing the full sun conditions elsewhere in the garden, was the most challenging part of this project. He explains, ‘Although your palette of plants is restricted, you can get plants to grow under established trees. It just requires strong horticultural knowledge.’

Another inspiration for the garden was the work of landscape architects James Van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme, who designed similarly layered and seasonal planting schemes. ‘I think the front garden references their ideologies and work, with botanically rich perennials en masse with strong seasonal interest,’ says Ben.

The rear garden is much more pared back, working with the simplicity of the house’s contemporary addition. Attention has been paid to screening plants such as bamboo and Boston ivy, which shroud the built outdoor elements with greenery, and offer privacy. The deciduous mature ornamental grapevine on the rear pergola provides summer shade, while still allowing light through in the winter months.

This garden was completed four years ago, over which time the plants have matured and adjustments have been made. ‘Good garden designers will get 95 per cent of it right, but there is always five per cent that needs updating to suit the specific onsite microclimates and conditions,’ says Ben. This garden will continue to beautifully evolve over the decades, serving generations to come.

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