The Design Approach
Due to the large space of the acre-sized property, we set out to create several ‘rooms’ within the garden. Thereby enticing the viewer to explore and be led through the garden to areas of new discovery. The design and views from within different functional areas of the dwelling were a contributing factor.
The original outdated dwelling was mostly demolished and re-designed, although the ‘foot print’ of the house remained similar. The initial home that stood on a gently sloping property allowed for only a narrow strip of lawn. Soil was trucked in to create a wider, level lawn, which was proportionate to the height and size of the house. Dressed rock lawn edging, bordered by a low clipped hedge, was intended, in order to produce a sense of austerity and to offset the elegance of the architecture. This also served to contrast with the wilder, free-flowing forest area surrounding, and below, the lawn.
Several magnificent established trees existed on site, as many of which, as possible, were retained and protected during construction. In order to lead the observer to the lower forest walk, and reading off the central axis of the house, a formal circular fountain pool was designed below a wide flaring set of steps constructed of dressed rock. We were fortunate that two large existing cork oaks lined up well, either side of the central axis. These two woodland guardians served to ‘hold’ the space ideally, while creating the sense of a forest dell. The ambience is further enhanced by the planting of violets, arum lilies, clivias, assorted ferns and other stream side, shade loving perennials. An old cast-iron Victorian garden lamp was rescued during the demolition stages, restored to its’ original state, and resurrected as a garden lighting feature.
From the fountain, the stone pathway forks left through to a bamboo grove. It then leads back to an open, sunnier space where a ‘hot’ garden of orange, yellow and red flowering shrubs sits below the swimming pool. Ultimately, the path returns back to a balau timber flight of stairs, contiguous to the upper level pool decking.
Adjacent to the pool deck and to the side of the house, a trio of Moroccan styled pots form a water feature in a Zen-like plant setting. From the interior, this serves as a contemplative and calming outlook from a large Sauna room. The patio leading off the office, situated at the opposite end of the house, was treated in a similar minimalist style.
Leading off the Zen garden and situated to the back of the house is a Potager, supplying organic herbs and vegetables to the kitchen close by.
The alternative pathway diverging from the fountain pond, meanders through a shade garden of azalea, magnolia and tree ferns returning to a meadow garden on the lawn level. From here, the viewer is led through a traditional ‘stone and rafter’ pergola trailing purple wisteria and bordered by lavender. The pathway wanders further through an eclectic mix of indigenous and exotic shrubbery, ultimately finishing at a viewing bench and stone table at the foot of a magnificently stout old stone pine.
Two stone arches at opposite ends of the length of the lawn, add symmetry and announce secondary pathways.
Dry packed stone walls were used to retain the level change between lawn and lower forest area, maintaining an organic and natural feel to the untamed lower forest walk. A pale granitic rock was used to retain the driveway border gardens in order to ‘lift’ the darker shade area and to blend with the paving.
Tree ferns were planted throughout the garden in order to create a common thread, knitting the different zones together.
‘Every individual should have access to a garden, in order to be closer to God’’ – Carl Jung