A Thoughtful Native Garden Anchoring A ‘Floating’ Home In The Byron Hinterland

This striking home in the Byron hinterland is perched on a crater formed by an ancient volcano that was active 23 million years ago.

Now known as Coolamon House by DFJ Architects, the floating residence features uninterrupted views out towards the ocean. But its Fig Landscapes-designed gardens are just as spectacular.

While the build itself was completed in 2020, landscapers have continued planting almost every week to ensure the sprawling natives will beautifully envelop the house over time.

Christina Karras

Coolamon House by DFJ Architects was completed in 2020, but Fig Landscaping has continued working on the complex gardens since. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

The retro-inspired house is engulfed in two acres of sprawling native gardens. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

It features a steep position that was perfect to create a Modernist-style home suspended on the hillside, with room for more gardens below. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

‘We sourced sandstone from a local quarry to use as garden steps, corten steel for retaining walls and garden edging, and crushed granite and railway sleepers for pathways. Materials were chosen for their durability,’ Grant explains. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

More than 60 native plants have been chosen that can withstand the steep site, wind, heavy rain, dry periods. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

The growing greenery will continue to embrace the house over time. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

The serene fire-pit setting. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

Views gardens are captured from the house’s expansive glass walls. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

‘We used a lot of different native species including Grevilleas, Banksia, Doryanthes, and native grasses such as Poa, Pennisetum and Lomandra, casuarinas, kangaroo paw, and xanthorrohea. Just to name a few,’ Grant says. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

Another view into the garden. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

‘The wet weather was a huge challenge but as landscapers that comes with the territory,’ Grant says. ‘For the size of the project it actually was pretty seamless, a real testament to my great team!’ Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

What a view! Photo – Jessie Ann Harris

Christina Karras
10th of August 2022

Coolamon House’s spectacular structure was designed around its unique and undulating landscape in the Byron Bay Hinterland.

When the owners engaged DFJ Architects for the build, they knew establishing a thriving garden would be just as integral to their floating, Modernist-style dream home. The couple enlisted Fig Landscapes to restore the 20-acre block’s former farmlands into a native garden that could enhance the architectural beauty of the home itself.

Fig Landscapes creative director Grant Boyle knew he also had to hero home’s incredible outlook of surrounding stretches of green, with the ocean in the distance. ‘For me the site was all about the view! We kept the planting low to maximise this and used lots of grasses to take advantage of the ever-prevailing winds,’ he notes.

Almost two years after the project was completed, the property is engulfed in 2 acres of sprawling gardens. A courtyard oasis is protected from the elements in the heart of the home, while sandstone pathways, steel walls, plantings, lawn and a fire-pit zone make up the additional of the garden spaces.

The property’s steep site also provided plenty of inspiration for its sturdy and textural planting scheme. ‘Ecologically, the site is set in the caldera of an ancient volcano that was active 23 million years ago,’ Grant explains. ‘The site was part of the ‘Big Scrub’ rainforest that was decimated by colonial settlement, and less than 1 per cent of the forest remains.’

As a result, many endemic rainforest species have been planted on the property. The planting list features more than 60 natives including spider flowers (Grevilleas), gymea lilies (Doryanthes excelsa) and kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos), in addition to lush fountain grasses (Pennisetum) and mat rushes (Lomandra).

‘We used native grasses to that would not only stabilise embankments but also sway gently in the wind and shine in the setting sun,’ Grant adds.

It’s been an ongoing labour of love to get the flourishing garden to where it is today, with Grant and his team continuing planting just about every week. The landscape will continue to grow and change in the years to come, merging the striking house into the nature of its incredible hillside location.

See more from Fig Landscapes here.

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