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8 Glorious Gardens That Blew Us Away This Year


If there is one category that never fails to appease our audience, it is gardens. No matter your taste, it seems that a thoughtfully designed garden is a perennial crowd-pleaser!

From a magical hidden flower garden in Ivanhoe, to an amazingly abundant lawn-free garden in Melbourne’s inner suburbs – to a pair of lifetime gardeners tending to their plot in Woodend, these are the best gardens we featured this year.

28th December, 2021

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 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.

A WOW-Factor ‘Secret Garden’ In Blairgowrie

In response to a sprawling site on the Mornington Peninsula and a brief from the client for privacy and seclusion rather than maximum beach views, Ian Barker Gardens designed a varied, six-part layout encompassing outdoor entertaining, a sunset terrace, a pool, fire-pit and luscious flowery plantings.

It’s a ‘secret garden’ filled with unexpected delights!

Read the full story here

‘I never wanted to impose on the era of the home, the garden was intended to feel as though it was the original garden, planted for the house,’ says Anastasia Elias of her garden in suburban Melbourne. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

It’s hard to believe this abundant productive garden is just approaching two years old! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The house renovation was completed in mid-2019, watch this space for a tour in the next few months! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A Magical Family Garden As Productive As It Is Pretty

Anastasia Elias renovated her home in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs at the beginning of 2019, and began planting the garden in winter of the same year, just before her young family moved into their new house. In just 24 months, the garden has become an abundant wonderland – sprouting with vegetable patches and self-seeded flowers that scatter the meandering front grass of their own accord.

Anastasia is a self-taught gardener, and her passion for horticulture is guided by a concept called biophilia: the belief in an intense and symbiotic affinity between humans and the natural world. This approach permeates the entire garden, from the cubby house overgrown with jasmine and violets, to the lunar calendar that she uses to plot her planting cycles.

Read the full story here

A field of ranunculus. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Petrina considers herself a ‘slow’ florist, making up to four bouquets a day from her abundant flower garden. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Some of the spring spoils ready to be made into a bouquet. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

An Enchanting, Hidden Flower Garden In Suburban Melbourne

Entering Petrina Burrill‘s Ivanhoe garden is like stepping into another world – as close to Narnia as you can get in suburban Melbourne. It’s a complete sensory experience that makes your jaw drop, your eyes widen, and your heart swell.

Petrina’s garden is, in fact, an urban sustainable micro flower farm. Here, she creates beautiful hand-picked bouquets for friends and strangers, bringing joy to all who stumble across her little patch of heaven.

Read the full story here

A shaded outdoor area at the base of the garden contains built-in outdoor seating. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

Boston Ivy creeps up the walls of the outdoor dining area toward the latticed pergola top, which it will eventually cover in a canopy. Photo – Sarah Pannell.

An Amazingly Abundant Lawn-Free Garden

The Sharp Street garden by Peachy Green contains an outdoor dining area where there would usually be a patch of grass. The shaded enclave houses built-in seating, a barbeque and pizza oven under a pergola, adjacent to a new bike shed which opens out onto the back lane. Everything else is plants.

It’s a perfectly balanced outdoor space: every utilitarian moment is softened by greenery, foliage and flora. Put simply, this is a gardener’s garden!

Read the full story here


The abundance of John and Jenny’s verge garden. Photo – Marnie Hawson.

‘Growing up in this place has had an impact on the kids,’ says John of his sons. One was married in the yard and another is Ben Shaw, permaculture expert on the Victorian surf coast. Photo – Marnie Hawson.

A Serendipitous Garden From Two Lifetime Gardeners

John and Jenny Shaw are lifelong gardeners, and their half acre plot in Woodend is an expression of their lives. Planted without reason or design, it’s a rambling and intuitive space that resists construction… even definition. There’s a mannagum tree over 300 years old, beside random plants gifted to John and Jenny by friends.

John describes it as a ‘serendipitous’ place, a lived-in garden filled with tokens of the couple’s near 50-year stewardship of the property.

Read the full story here.

The cabana cave has a roof garden atop it, with rosemary and agave cascading down. ‘Beige Royal Quarter’ paint from Dulux. Eco Outdoor ‘Antico Luce’ brick. Photo – Anson Smart.  Stylist – Claire Delmar.

The material palette is simple, consisting of terracotta, bamboo, limestone and timber with light, natural earthy tones for a modern-Mediterranean feel. Eco Outdoor ‘Antico Luce’ brick. Photo – Anson Smart.  Stylist – Claire Delmar.

The courtyard is a portrait of seaside bliss – it’s like a private resort pocket! Photo – Anson Smart.  Stylist – Claire Delmar.

A Mediterranean Oasis In The Middle Of Sydney

Despite being located in the summery eastern beaches of Sydney, this dreamy garden belonging to landscape designer Anthony Wyer could easily be on a sun-scorched Greek island.

Replete with a lush, layered planting palette, pool and a sandstone cabana cave, the Boulder House garden is like being on holiday, at home! What more can we say? It’s absolute heaven.

Read the full story here.

‘The entire landscape (except maintenance access to the onsite stormwater detention) was designed with no stairs, wide opening and manageable gradients for walker and wheelchair access. Photo – Natalie Hunfalvay.

Most of the plants were installed over an 11 month period in 2018, whole large trees were crane lifted in. Photo – Natalie Hunfalvay.

Low walls and seating opportunities are located at roughly 20 metre intervals. Photo – Natalie Hunfalvay.

A Grandmother’s Accessible, Flower-Filled Dream Garden!

What was recently a large, barren plot accompanying a newly-built home in Kenthurst (39 kilometres north-west of Sydney’s CBD) is now an absolutely thriving garden for its elderly owner.

The client’s brief can be boiled down to four key elements – accessibility, refuge, social opportunity, and views – but their main request was for flowers! The resulting design by Outdoor Establishments combines seasonal colour, mature trees, and bird-attracting species with stone walls and paved areas to create multiple zones for eating, lounging and enjoying the garden.

Read the full story here.

Fig Landscapes added a deck, pool, an adjacent fire pit and veggie patches at the rear to this one-acre plot in Binna Burra. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

The view from the pool out over the rolling hills beyond is pretty magical! Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Sandy gravel covers the floor of the fire pit, a similar colour to the fringe of pennisetum at its edges. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

A Vacant Cow Paddock Turned Relaxed Australian Country Garden

Landscape architect Grant Boyle of Fig Landscapes was engaged by the new owners of a vacant, one-acre cow paddock to create a garden around their house: a Queenslander that had been relocated to the rolling green property in Binna Burra.

This new garden acts like a solder between the transposed residence and its fresh terrain. Its soft and functional features (and epic plunge pool) give this old cattle grazing patch a new lease on life!

Read the full story here

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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.

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