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

Making Accessible Gardens That Enhance Your Life, With Miniscapes!

Creative People

The last time we caught up with Clea Cregan it was way back in 2016, when she was creating terrariums under her business, Miniscapes. These days, terrariums are just a small part of the Miniscape Projects offering, which is now a fully-fledged landscaping service.

Sean Fennessy’s beautiful, rolling garden at his epic Fisher House? Yep, she did that!

Clea’s approach to cultivating the perfect green space is refreshingly lawless. She likes it best when plants sit well together, evolve into new beings, and create a strong sense of place.

13th December, 2021

The garden of landscape designer Clea Cregan of Miniscapes. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Clea Cregan has seen many different creative careers, including graphic designer, working in film production, and making terrariums! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Clea working on drawings for a client’s garden. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Selecting material and plant palettes. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘Miniscape Projects really embraces the belief that gardens can make people happy, bring calm into their lives, and offer a powerful remedy to the stresses of modern life’, says Clea. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A very helpful bookshelf in Clea’s home office. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A lush corner of Clea’s beautiful home and garden. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘I think our gardens have a playful, relaxed and tactile feel’, says Clea. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A dense wall of creepers. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A Miniscapes garden is characterised by graphic shapes, softened by contemporary plant combinations and simple materials. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A dewy morning in Clea’s garden. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Clea worked on the beautiful native garden for Sean Fennessy and Jess Lillico’s iconic Alistair  Knox home, The Fisher House. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

The ‘Courtney’ courtyard was one of the first gardens Clea designed, and was nominated that year in the Houses Awards. Photo – Virginia Cummins for Miniscapes.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 13th December 2021

‘I love the effect well-designed spaces can have on how we feel – gardens stimulate the senses and enhance the way we live,’ says Clea Cregan of Miniscape Projects. ‘I love how gardens are always ‘in progress’, constantly evolving and changing with time, and the needs of the owners. I love the creative process in helping people connect with their gardens and become better gardeners.’

This philosophy underpins Clea’s work at Miniscape Projects, which has evolved from a terrarium business she started over a decade ago, to a full landscape design service. Clea is passionate about making great garden design accessible, underpinned by her firm belief that green spaces ‘make people happy, bring calm into their lives, and offer a remedy to the stresses of modern life’.

Hi Clea! What has been your journey to working in this industry, and how long have you been designing gardens?

My career path weaved its way through various design fields, before arriving at landscape design. Originally I studied graphic design and worked in several web design studios before moving into film production. I was making terrariums as a side hobby when their popularity, soared and Miniscapes was born.

I spent a lot of my childhood exploring the landscapes around Canberra where I grew up: summers at Jervis Bay and south-coast NSW, winters up at the snowfields. We did lots of hiking and skiing. I used to propagate my owns plants from cuttings. Even early on, I had a deep love of plants. In hindsight, it seems pretty inevitable that I would end up as a landscape designer.

The last time we checked in with you, you were creating terrariums. Do you have any particular moments/recollections about how you first became interested in taking this interest in green spaces to a larger scale?

Making terrariums was a great stepping stone to a career in landscape design. Creating these mini landscapes was an excellent introduction to horticulture, but the limited space in the terrarium was frustrating! Having no formal training in horticulture, I enrolled in a landscape design course at Burnley, Melbourne.

I was very fortunate to be taught by Landscape Architect Andrew Laidlaw (Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne) and that was where my passion for landscape design was really ignited. One of the first gardens I completed after the course was my ‘Courtney Courtyard’ project, which was nominated in the Houses Awards and led to further design commissions.

‘Miniscape Projects’ launched around this time with a focus on larger landscapes. I’ve been fortunate to work on some really creative projects with excellent clients since then.

What is your gardens philosophy – what makes a Miniscapes garden, and how do you hope to impact peoples green spaces? 

Miniscape Projects really embraces the belief that gardens can make people happy, bring calm into their lives, and offer a powerful remedy to the stresses of modern life. Beautiful green spaces start with thoughtful design, clever combinations of materials, and a rich tapestry of plants for all users, including local flora and fauna. We believe in creating gardens that can embody all these things – ecologically rich, low-impact environments that also function as a lush, peaceful sanctuary.

Does Miniscapesmean that you specialise in smaller spaces? Is this something youre passionate about?

I enjoy the challenge of smaller spaces, where constraints of size, privacy and light require creative solutions. Smaller spaces often have to work harder than larger ones as many of the elements need to be multifunctional. Every plant must be performing at its best to make it a success.

Originally I was focused on smaller spaces like indoor gardens, balconies and rooftops but recently I have started working on larger landscapes.

What do you consider to be your voicein landscape projects? 

I think our gardens have a playful, relaxed and tactile feel. Graphic shapes, softened by contemporary plant combinations and simple materials.

I don’t follow any rules with planting, as long as the plants’ horticultural needs are similar and they complement each other. I like mixing fruit trees, natives, ornamentals, succulents and lots of edibles in our gardens.

Every Miniscape Projects garden has a very unique look, as every site and client is different. But connecting every different project is the important goal of ensuring that the house and garden come together as one and create a strong sense of place.

What do you love about your work?

I’m passionate about including nature-play spaces for children in my designs. Nature play is when children are provided with the opportunity to engage in unstructured play activities with logs, rocks, water and plants rather than traditional play equipment. I’ve been heavily involved in redeveloping the playgrounds at my children’s primary school into nature-based play spaces.

I’m also involved with the charity Global Gardens of Peace – an Australian initiative where living landscapes will be created for children and their families suffering from trauma and devastation. The project we’re currently working on is the Garden of Hope, Khan Younis, in Gaza Strip.

Are there any little tips or ideas you would give someone with a small green space who wants maximum impact? 

Use every inch of your space, both horizontal and vertical. Go crazy with climbers, choose big bold foliage and contrasting textures, add raised wicking beds to create layers and visual interest. Paint all boundary fences dark grey to make garden appear bigger. Then add plants, plants and more plants – edibles, herbs, perennials, espaliered fruit, evergreen shrubs, climbers, and small trees suitable for small spaces.

Learn more about Miniscape Projects here.

This Week

News

New Melbourne Brand Saule Have Created The Dreamiest Robes, Just In Time For Summer

Local creative Sally Tabart has designed the ultimate robe for the home, beach and beyond – and it’s all made here in Melbourne!
Christina Karras

Shopping

Bonnie & Neil's Sunny New Collection Is Inspired By Mediterranean Beach Clubs

Bonnie & Neil are bringing the colours of the Italian coast and Grecian-style prints to our home with their new summer collection!
Christina Karras

Sustainable Homes

‘Future Ready’: Inside One Of Melbourne’s Newest Sustainable Developments

Mirvac are hoping to encourage sustainable living with their innovative 'future ready' display home in Melbourne's inner west.
Christina Karras

News

A Summery New Collection By Australia’s Oldest Textile Mill

Shop Waverly Mills’ beautiful new range of blankets, rugs, and throws, with all fabrics made at their century-old factory!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Renovated Fitzroy Home, Inspired By The Candied Colours Of Italian Dessert

This Edwardian brings a delectable taste of Italy to Melbourne with its stained-glass windows and peachy pink interiors!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Coastal Oasis Designed + Built By The Owners

Lauren Patista-Trickey and Jonathon Patista admit being both client and builder/designer was 'a journey', but the result made it all worth i...

Stays

Escape To This Magical Tiny Home In The Gold Coast Hinterlands

Step inside an adorable, off-grid getaway on a farm, with 'no distractions', limited phone reception and a wood-fired hot tub.
Christina Karras

Sustainable Homes

A 1980s Bushland Home Built Entirely From Recycled Materials

A mudbrick home in Healesville, Victoria handmade by the owners using salvaged materials.
Amelia Barnes
  6 hours ago

Homes

A Glamorous Update For An Exemplary Ernest Fooks Mid-Century Home

Modernist architect Ernest Fooks designed some of Melbourne’s outstanding mid-century properties, including the 1960s home of Ilana Moses

Interiors

The Central Coast Home Of The Block Alumni Kyal + Kara

The Australian coastal meets Mediterranean family home of former The Block stars Kyal and Kara Demmrich, on the NSW Central Coast.

Design Eye

Balancing Form + Function In Garden Design, With Peachy Green’s Frances Hale

Landscape designer Frances Hale of Peachy Green shares how outdoor furniture can turn garden spaces into useable living areas, immersed in g...
Christina Karras
  14 hours ago

Studio Visit

Designer Jordan Fleming Makes Playful ‘Creatures’ That Double As Lamps

Her handcrafted pieces are like towering, functional sculptures as tall as people – that look like they could come alive at any moment!
Christina Karras

Architecture

An Architect + Interior Designer’s Coastal Home, Grounded In Nature

This Sydney family home is like a private treehouse by the beach, with views at every turn, and unexpected interiors.
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Clever Reworking Of A 70sqm Cottage In Hawthorn, Melbourne

Despite being limited to this home's tiny frame, interior designer Rosanna Ceravolo has impressively made the most of its diminutive size.

Creative People

Meet The Small Melbourne Brand Reinventing The Humble Gumboot

From a humble farm in South Gippsland, Merry People has grown from a grassroots start-up, to a successful brand sold across the globe!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Serendipitous Garden From Two Lifetime Gardeners

John and Jenny Shaw have been tending to this magical garden in Woodend for 50 years - even adding a 'verge garden' for the local community!...

Gardens

A Hidden Flower Garden In Suburban Melbourne

From her Ivanhoe home Petrina Burrill has created a sustainable micro flower farm.

Studio Visit

Peachy Green's Feel Good Gardens

We visit Landscape Designer Frances Hale of Peachy Green in her divine new workspace in Fairfield.

This Week

Interiors

A Coastal Oasis Designed + Built By The Owners

Lauren Patista-Trickey and Jonathon Patista admit being both client and builder/designer was 'a journey', but the result made it all worth i...

Interiors

A Clever Reworking Of A 70sqm Cottage In Hawthorn, Melbourne

Despite being limited to this home's tiny frame, interior designer Rosanna Ceravolo has impressively made the most of its diminutive size.

Shopping

Bonnie & Neil's Sunny New Collection Is Inspired By Mediterranean Beach Clubs

Bonnie & Neil are bringing the colours of the Italian coast and Grecian-style prints to our home with their new summer collection!
Christina Karras

Stays

Escape To This Magical Tiny Home In The Gold Coast Hinterlands

Step inside an adorable, off-grid getaway on a farm, with 'no distractions', limited phone reception and a wood-fired hot tub.
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Renovated Fitzroy Home, Inspired By The Candied Colours Of Italian Dessert

This Edwardian brings a delectable taste of Italy to Melbourne with its stained-glass windows and peachy pink interiors!
Christina Karras

Creative People

Meet The Small Melbourne Brand Reinventing The Humble Gumboot

From a humble farm in South Gippsland, Merry People has grown from a grassroots start-up, to a successful brand sold across the globe!
Christina Karras

Architecture

An Architect + Interior Designer’s Coastal Home, Grounded In Nature

This Sydney family home is like a private treehouse by the beach, with views at every turn, and unexpected interiors.
Christina Karras

News

A Summery New Collection By Australia’s Oldest Textile Mill

Shop Waverly Mills’ beautiful new range of blankets, rugs, and throws, with all fabrics made at their century-old factory!
Christina Karras

Interiors

The Central Coast Home Of The Block Alumni Kyal + Kara

The Australian coastal meets Mediterranean family home of former The Block stars Kyal and Kara Demmrich, on the NSW Central Coast.

Sustainable Homes

‘Future Ready’: Inside One Of Melbourne’s Newest Sustainable Developments

Mirvac are hoping to encourage sustainable living with their innovative 'future ready' display home in Melbourne's inner west.
Christina Karras

Design Eye

Balancing Form + Function In Garden Design, With Peachy Green’s Frances Hale

Landscape designer Frances Hale of Peachy Green shares how outdoor furniture can turn garden spaces into useable living areas, immersed in g...
Christina Karras
  14 hours ago

Sustainable Homes

A 1980s Bushland Home Built Entirely From Recycled Materials

A mudbrick home in Healesville, Victoria handmade by the owners using salvaged materials.
Amelia Barnes
  6 hours ago

Homes

A Glamorous Update For An Exemplary Ernest Fooks Mid-Century Home

Modernist architect Ernest Fooks designed some of Melbourne’s outstanding mid-century properties, including the 1960s home of Ilana Moses

News

New Melbourne Brand Saule Have Created The Dreamiest Robes, Just In Time For Summer

Local creative Sally Tabart has designed the ultimate robe for the home, beach and beyond – and it’s all made here in Melbourne!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Designer Jordan Fleming Makes Playful ‘Creatures’ That Double As Lamps

Her handcrafted pieces are like towering, functional sculptures as tall as people – that look like they could come alive at any moment!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Serendipitous Garden From Two Lifetime Gardeners

John and Jenny Shaw have been tending to this magical garden in Woodend for 50 years.

Gardens

A Hidden Flower Garden In Suburban Melbourne

From her Ivanhoe home Petrina Burrill has created a sustainable micro flower farm.

Studio Visit

Peachy Green's Feel Good Gardens

We visit Landscape Designer Frances Hale of Peachy Green in her divine new workspace in Fairfield.

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