Work on the intriguing garden at Illangi Farm started back in 2017, when Leesa Cowan, her husband and their two teenage children moved to the Barrabool property from Black Rock. The family hadn’t really intended on becoming farmers, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to enjoy country living so close to the city.
The expansive block had primarily been used for grazing, leaving a clean slate ‘devoid of vegetation’ for Leesa to create her dream garden, designed by Eckersley Garden Architecture.
‘[Our vision] was to work alongside Sean Godsell’s beautiful architecture and the amazing expansive views, in particular the You Yangs in the distance and the rolling hills of Barrabool,’ principal landscape designer Scott Leung says.
‘We wanted the owners to be able to go out into the garden in any weather conditions and still find a comfortable protected position. The brief was to ensure the garden provided connection to the rural landscape and that views to the paddocks and livestock were maintained.’
Looking at the lush garden today, filled with verdant creepers, succulents and native plants suited to the coastal conditions, it’s hard to believe it was just flat land before planting took place in 2018. Scott says the unique design is filled with outdoor ‘rooms’ and organic pathways concentrated around the house, featuring local stone from the site cut and gravels from the Geelong region.
One of these enchanting garden ‘rooms’ is the shaded pergola canopy, located at the entrance of the house, filled with a sea of green ground-covers and Willy Wagtails that soften the steel framework. ‘This area feels like a hanging garden, a cool respite during a hot day with shade loving plants,’ Scott says.
The many structural layers of the landscape design have also successfully re-established windbreaks and natural contours that have helped the garden thrive – despite the area’s high winds, and low annual rainfall.
With endless opportunities for gap filling, and potential new garden spaces, Scott says the garden almost becomes its own ‘nursery’ nestled into the private residence.
‘The owners are passionate about propagating plants and have added production areas into the garden layout, so its evolution will continue.’