Behind the enormous front door of this Jan Juc family home lies a serene courtyard garden full of surprises. Here, you’ll get a glimpse of the elevated swimming pool through an underwater window, while a grassy floor of greenery and bluestone steppers invite you inside.
‘The entire lower level of the house is built around that courtyard,’ MINT Pool + Landscape Design director and senior designer Darin Bradbury says. ‘And really, it is the central anchor of the entire house.’
‘It’s green, restrained and links all of the spaces on the lower floor and provides the perfect base for the climb up the stairs to the main house.’
Darin’s practice was enlisted by a local family of four to create a series of private outdoor spaces, that could blur the striking architectural lines by Lachlan Shephard Architects into the broader landscape.
‘We wanted to relax the garden as much as possible, and introduce a more organic feel so that there was a connection to the natural environment,’ he says. The project’s palette of rock, stone and corten steel helps embrace its coastal location next to Jan Juc Beach and overlooking Torquay Golf Club. Plants like lilly pilly (Syzygium ‘Elite’) and blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus) were also used to create a full and textural screen around the perimeter fencing.
‘City gardens don’t always have that sense of place, but in Jan Juc you can’t ignore the natural beauty of the place. You have to work with it,’ Darin adds.
By the time the team were engaged, the block was already a construction site, and the only pre-existing vegetation that remained was a dense saltbush hedge (Rhagodia spinescens) at the front of the property.
This created a handy windbreak for the front garden, but also helped inform its ‘bullet-proof’ planting scheme of natives like coast banksia (Banksia integrifolia), spear-grass (Austrostipa stipoides), and creeping boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium).
Despite not having ‘a lot of space in the backyard’ for a classic lawn area, the landscaping weaves functional gardens across the building in different ways. They even found room for a north-facing vegetable and herb garden down the side of the house, integrating round corten planters rather than dropping traditional large veggie beds.
Now, Darin says his clients have started to fill those beds with ‘all sorts of plants and flowers’, bringing their personal touches to this spectacular family garden.