Folded In—Rewilded Inner City Garden

Without foregoing any practicalities, this intimate, tranquil and sensual space effortlessly nestles great design within.

This garden is a great example of a new way of thinking about inner city gardens. Confident shelter and seating solutions defined by living shade and clever planting perfectly address the needs of this young family. It is contained and neat with room for the owners to express themselves now and into the future.

Frances Hale of Peachy Green discarded rigid ideas of garden beds and manicured lawns and came at the job from a new angle – using the rewilding approach to connect different places in the garden for people to eat and play, store their bikes, grow some food or just hang out.

“A gardener’s garden” says Fran. “Full of mixed ornamental grasses flowering perennial woody meadow style planting, natives, and shady trees. A lawn free space – natural, loose, fun, playful, relaxed places to sit.”

Mimicking a rocky forest walk, the floor of the garden is a meandering mix of bluestone pavers and steppers. The “little bit, but not too crazy” paving is interplanted with kidney weed that fills the gaps and sprawls out further on the bits that don’t get trodden on as much.

Paths to the house, and from the house to the outdoor dining area and bike shed out the back, are rambling. Small trees and shrubs hide what’s around the bend, making it much more fun to explore. Planting drifts are sometimes delineated by chunky pink mudstone boulders – perfect for little legs to climb, plants to lean on and people to sit.

The planting closer to the ground has been kept evergreen and solid. Mats of groundcovers, ferns and succulents create a base for the medium-height plants. Waving grasses, sculptural perennials and the soft tones of anemones and dusky flowering gums are punctuated with bright spots that change with the seasons. Straw flowers are planted in chunks and little pops of saturated colour in dahlias, marigolds and sedum stand out, making the garden feel energetic and playful.

The structural elements in this garden are beautifully designed using raw materials that over time have become frames for the plantings. Boston ivy creeps over timber pergolas and wires and grows up the bricks as each built area is slowly consumed by vegetation. Shade is created in summer that will fall away and let in the light when the house needs it.

The outdoor eating area has built-in banquettes, a barbequeand a pizza oven. With soft plants underfoot and hanging vines overhead, this space is like a self-contained little capsule of outdoors, separate from the rest of the garden and the house.

Banquettes have also been built closer to the house for more places to sit. Framed by ferns and soft plantings that grow up behind where you sit adds to the feeling of being within the garden. Vines overhead and groundcovers underfoot nestle you in like a cuddle.

“The client and I remain good friends,”says Fran. “I drop in often and can’t resist bringing her new plants I know she will love. The challenge is trying to find space to add the new ones. (But we always manage to squeeze them in.)”

Underpinning the rambling feel of the project is clever design that takes care of all the practical requirements with a sure hand.

The rear access and storage for bikes gets them out of sight and the timber cladding for the shed gives another point of interest for the garden.

Much more than a lovely garden, this work is design at its best – taking care of so much more than plants and rocks, it takes care of living.

“(I love) seeing the joy it brings its family.”she says “As soon as you step in the front door you can see the garden through every window, and it wraps around the house making the home feel surrounded in greenery. It has a magical calm immersive quality with so many wondrous flowers and textures and combinations, it’s just a joy to see the layers all thriving together.”


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