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 Brazilian-Inspired Garden With Epic Bayside Views

Gardens

Michael Bates of Bates Landscape started work on this garden 12 years ago, under different owners. Once the property was sold, the new custodians re-engaged the landscape designer to rework the garden, to complement a new renovation.

Centred around the new Madeleine Blanchfield-designed residence, a bold sculptural artwork, and a desire to activate all parts of the steep and windy site, Michael’s new garden layout connects a variety of functional and aesthetic pockets through a central lawn.

Each outdoor space in this vast and varied garden is its own moment!

6th July, 2021

The rooftop terrace is designed around a ghostly tree sculpture. Photo – Jason Busch.

Mediterranean plantings surround the rooftop terrace. Photo – Jason Busch.

Glorious views overlooking the water! The house was designed by Madeleine Blanchfield Architects. Photo – Jason Busch.

Greenery drapes the built environments and spills into the deeper corners. Photo – Jason Busch.

Looking down on the eating terrace, which connects the new house to the lawn and sprawling garden garden beyond. Photo – Jason Busch.

Large sandstone steppers from Eco Outdoor connect the raised terrace to the wild and organic garden. Photo – Jason Busch.

The deeper one goes into the steep site, the wilder the sub-tropical garden becomes. Photo – Jason Busch.

The garden is designed to dissolve into the background as you move towards the perimeter, completely obscuring the boundary line. Photo – Jason Busch.

Perfect sunset light hits the rock formations on the rolling site. Photo – Jason Busch.

Sasha Gattermayr
Tuesday 6th July 2021

‘All of the disparate elements are now stitched together in a cogent, cohesive manner.’ – Michael Bates

Landscape designer Michael Bates trained with master Japanese landscaper Masayoshi Uchiyama in the 80s, who enlightened him to the practice of ‘borrowed scenery’. In layman’s terms, the concept prompts designers to consider the landscape beyond the perimeter as part of the composition of a garden. The views beyond the boundary are part of the vista, and should be incorporated into the final design.

Michael took this concept and ran with it when designing this garden in Sydney’s Lower North Shore, that overlooks a spectacular secluded bay. The clients had recently commissioned Madeleine Blanchfield to design an angular contemporary residence with a monochrome palette, so Michael turned to the rolling headlands and surrounding surf to create a lush, organic counterpart to the modern residence.

‘There were many lush plantings in the neighbouring properties that we were able to weave in to the planting plan to blur the boundaries,’ says Michael. ‘This makes the garden feel like it went on forever.’

A sub-tropical planting palette inspired by Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx was devised to complement this borrowed landscape, and create depth in the foliage textures on the ground level. For contrast, the rooftop garden is abundant with a mix of hardy Mediterranean species, succulents and flowering groundcovers.

Plantings are one thing, but structure was another. Briefed by the new owners to create space for a terrace entertainment area, a rooftop garden and a mini golf green (!) on the steep site, Michael required a central element to unite all these disparate elements together.

‘My big idea was to create a larger, flat lawn space which stitched all of the different landscape features together,’ says Michael. ‘This made the garden feel like one space with many places.’

Large sandstone steppers from Eco Outdoor facilitate connection between the house and the garden, lowering visitors down from the raised lounge terrace down to the lawn, where they can then meander through each pocket towards the boundary.

This complex, multi-functional garden is knitted together by its sweeping views and tropical palette, which allow purpose-driven spaces to dissolve into the wild attitude of the terrain. A feat of cohesive garden design!

See more projects by Bates Landscapes here.

This Week

News

Bid On Spectacular Contemporary Art From Australia's Best At The IMA's Benefit Auction!

Snap up works from award-winning artists thanks to the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane’s glamorous annual gala and online auction!
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Announcing The Design Files Father's Day Favourites 2022!

Find the best gifts for dad and score special deals with our Father's Day Favourites online shopping event!

Father's Day Favourites

Find The Perfect Book For Dad With 20% Off From Hardie Grant Publishing!

From the best barbecuing recipes to epic travel inspiration, you'll find the perfect book for dad in our edit of Hardie Grant Publishing's f...
Christina Karras
  11 hours ago

News

Local Chef Ella Mittas' First Cookbook Brings Us A Taste Of The Mediterranean

The Greek-Australian chef shares her most delicious recipes and personal essays in Ela! Ela! – To Turkey and Greece, Then Home.
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Shop Luxurious Outdoor Essentials For Dad With 20% Off The Grampians Goods Co.

This one is for the dads who love camping, picnics, and a hot cocoa by the fire! We've got 20% off The Grampian Goods Co.!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Majestic Garden House That Transcends Aesthetics

The landscape is the mesmerising star of the show in Garden House by Arent&Pyke and Polly Harbison Design.

At Home With Sheridan

The Minimalist Inner-City Sanctuary Of Skincare Guru James Vivian + Ben Esakoff

A Prahran Edwardian cottage meets a minimalist architectural addition, with exposed materials, an impressive art collection, and textured Sh...

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Robert Gordon For A Fun-Filled Ceramic Range

The loveable local brands have created a new playful ceramics collection, bringing prints and colour to range of hand-crafted vases!
Christina Karras

Interiors

How This First-Time Renovator Transformed Her Pint-Sized Melbourne Apartment

A tiny renovation (34 square metres, to be precise) – that packs a big punch!

Homes

A Historic Melbourne Apartment With Artful, Lived-In Interiors

Interior designer Leigh Ellwood invites us inside her 1930s Beverley Hills apartment in South Yarra.
Lucy Feagins
  19 hours ago

On The Market

For Sale: An Ultimate Sydney Dream Home, With Waterfront Views

This new Balmain family home has it all - a resort-style backyard, swimming pool, gym, steam room, home theatre, and it's for sale!
Christina Karras

Stays

A Serene Architectural Getaway Overlooking Vineyards In Central Victoria

Barfold Estate's new boutique accommodation is the best kept secret in the Heathcote / Kyneton region – for now!

News

Nicole Lawrence Studio And Curio Practice Pop Up In Sydney

The two rising design stars open the doors to their week-long shop and showroom in Paddington.

News

Shop Dreamy Pastel Landscapes In Collection III From ‘Palette by Jono Fleming’

Introducing interior stylist Jono Fleming’s third art collaboration with Sicilian-Australian artist Chanel Sohier.
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Give Dad A Dose Of (Stylish) Wanderlust With Bespoke Luggage From July!

Gift dad bespoke luggage from our favourite travel brand July and receive a complimentary personalised luggage tag worth $85!

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Mediterranean Oasis In The Middle Of Sydney

With a tropical courtyard and sandstone cabana cave, landscape designer Antony Wyer’s own incredible garden is like a personal Greek islan...

Gardens

A Sub-Tropical Garden Wonderland In The Byron Bay Hinterland

Salvaged from environmental ruin, the Tyagarah garden by LANDstudio comprises ten acres of lush residential garden and 110 acres of reforest...

Gardens

A Cultivated Wilderness In Inner Suburban Melbourne

Legendary landscape designer Phillip Withers completes a layered, three-tiered garden around a Toorak home designed by Cera Stribley.

This Week

News

Bid On Spectacular Contemporary Art From Australia's Best At The IMA's Benefit Auction!

Snap up works from award-winning artists thanks to the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane’s glamorous annual gala and online auction!
Christina Karras

Shopping

Kip&Co Team Up With Robert Gordon For A Fun-Filled Ceramic Range

The loveable local brands have created a new playful ceramics collection, bringing prints and colour to range of hand-crafted vases!
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Find The Perfect Book For Dad With 20% Off From Hardie Grant Publishing!

From the best barbecuing recipes to epic travel inspiration, you'll find the perfect book for dad in our edit of Hardie Grant Publishing's f...
Christina Karras
  11 hours ago

Stays

A Serene Architectural Getaway Overlooking Vineyards In Central Victoria

Barfold Estate's new boutique accommodation is the best kept secret in the Heathcote / Kyneton region – for now!

Father's Day Favourites

Announcing The Design Files Father's Day Favourites 2022!

Find the best gifts for dad and score special deals with our Father's Day Favourites online shopping event!

On The Market

For Sale: An Ultimate Sydney Dream Home, With Waterfront Views

This new Balmain family home has it all - a resort-style backyard, swimming pool, gym, steam room, home theatre, and it's for sale!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Majestic Garden House That Transcends Aesthetics

The landscape is the mesmerising star of the show in Garden House by Arent&Pyke and Polly Harbison Design.

News

Nicole Lawrence Studio And Curio Practice Pop Up In Sydney

The two rising design stars open the doors to their week-long shop and showroom in Paddington.

Father's Day Favourites

Give Dad A Dose Of (Stylish) Wanderlust With Bespoke Luggage From July!

Gift dad bespoke luggage from our favourite travel brand July and receive a complimentary personalised luggage tag worth $85!

At Home With Sheridan

The Minimalist Inner-City Sanctuary Of Skincare Guru James Vivian + Ben Esakoff

A Prahran Edwardian cottage meets a minimalist architectural addition, with exposed materials, an impressive art collection, and textured Sh...

Interiors

How This First-Time Renovator Transformed Her Pint-Sized Melbourne Apartment

A tiny renovation (34 square metres, to be precise) – that packs a big punch!

News

Local Chef Ella Mittas' First Cookbook Brings Us A Taste Of The Mediterranean

The Greek-Australian chef shares her most delicious recipes and personal essays in Ela! Ela! – To Turkey and Greece, Then Home.
Christina Karras

Homes

A Historic Melbourne Apartment With Artful, Lived-In Interiors

Interior designer Leigh Ellwood invites us inside her 1930s Beverley Hills apartment in South Yarra.
Lucy Feagins
  19 hours ago

News

Shop Dreamy Pastel Landscapes In Collection III From ‘Palette by Jono Fleming’

Introducing interior stylist Jono Fleming’s third art collaboration with Sicilian-Australian artist Chanel Sohier.
Christina Karras

Father's Day Favourites

Shop Luxurious Outdoor Essentials For Dad With 20% Off The Grampians Goods Co.

This one is for the dads who love camping, picnics, and a hot cocoa by the fire! We've got 20% off The Grampian Goods Co.!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Mediterranean Oasis In The Middle Of Sydney

With a tropical courtyard and sandstone cabana cave, this landscape designer's garden is like a personal Greek island!

Gardens

A Sub-Tropical Garden Wonderland In The Byron Bay Hinterland

The Tyagarah garden by LANDstudio comprises ten acres of lush residential garden and 110 acres of reforested natural heath in the Byron hint...

Gardens

A Cultivated Wilderness In Inner Suburban Melbourne

Legendary landscape designer Phillip Withers completes a layered, three-tiered garden around a Toorak home designed by Cera Stribley.

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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net