Balwyn Floating Garden

Desiring a cool and tranquil garden space to inhabit during the Summer months, our Balwyn clients came to us looking for a redesign of their rear and front gardens to achieve just that. With an existing formal layered planting scheme in place, inherited from a previous owner, we wanted to ensure the new garden stayed true to this aesthetic and integrated seamlessly.

For the rear garden, our clients were chasing an outdoor area that was undoubtedly beautiful to look at from within the house but would entice people out. With a love of being outside in the warmer weather our clients really wanted a space where they could sit informally as a family under the shade of the two large mature Elm trees. Their key request was for the Elms to be retained and the garden to remain a calm and peaceful space.

In addition our clients wanted to introduce some softness to the garden by incorporating flowering plants into the planting palette, whilst keeping to the overall formal and traditional style.

To create a view from the lounge room that would be a showstopper, we designed a spectacular water feature, which became the focus of the garden. The feature consists of a 290mm deep rectangular black tiled pond constructed on a 100mm reinforced concrete base with masonry block walls, and finished with a polished black granite exterior. Three white porcelain bowls sit atop the surface of the pond, creating the illusion they are floating. Water flows out of the bowls into the pond, and then again over the edge of the pond and into a hidden reservoir below.

When the water feature is running, the sound of greatly cascading water and the lovely ripples created on the water is still, the pond is highly reflective, resembling black glass and providing a mirror image of the bowls, the sky and the magnificent trees above.

Surrounding the pond is a hedge of clipped Buxus sempervirens (English Box), which encase garden beds to the right of and opposite the water feature. The manicured hedging reinforces the formal style of the space and ties in with the existing garden, ensuring a consistent look.

A small existing deck was removed and replaced with bluestone paving with brick inserts designed to match and extend seamlessly from the existing paving in the side garden. A paving step was also added between the lounge room entrance and the garden in order to provide a more integrated and accessible transition between the garden and the house.

Fulfilling our clients wishes, an intimate seating area designed to fit 3-4 people was positioned to the left of the water feature and directly under one of the large Elm trees, making it a cooling spot to sit and relax in summer. The seating area is out of view from within the house, so it doesn’t detract from the visual impact of the water feature, but is close enough that the peaceful atmosphere created by the running water can still be enjoyed.

When it came to planting, we introduced a mix of lush, leafy and flowering plants to soften the space. In doing this, careful consideration was given to choosing plants that would complement and enhance the existing formal planting scheme, rather than work against it.

Three Cercis canadensis (Forest Pansy) trees were placed in different garden beds as anchor points, creating balance and harmony in our garden design. When in leaf, these trees add beautiful colour and texture to the garden, and they produce stunning pink blossoms in early spring. In winter they add structured qualities of the garden.

The garden beds contain a mixture of flowering plants including Helleborus x hybridus (Winter Rose), Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea), Arthropodium ‘Te Puna’ (Dwarf New Zealand Rock Lily), Liriope muscari ‘Royal Purple’ and Clivia miniata (Kaffir Lily).

In the rear garden bed, Buxus spheres of varying sizes were placed in amongst the softer planting, and in front of the pre-existing pleached Ficus hillii hedge to add structure and create sculptural interest. The Buxus spheres also tie in with the front and side garden areas, echoing the shape of the existing standard Figs and newly planted Buxus spheres in pots.

Just as our clients had envisioned at the outset of the project, we have created a beautiful and peaceful space that is still in keeping with the traditional, structured style of the existing home and garden. The garden is incredibly functional, flows brilliantly and offers ample planting to soften the hardscape. We believe the overall result is a carefully considered, cohesive space that has some serious wow factor.

Plant Selection

    • Ajuga reptans ‘Catlins giant’
    • Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’
    • Ficus hilli ‘Pleached’
    • Buxus sempervirens ‘Ball’
    • Helleborus x hybridus
    • Nandina Domestica ‘Nana’
    • Viburnum davidii 
    • Hydrangea quercifolia

Hardscape Specification

    • Water feature constructed by our design specifications.
    • Black polished granite
    • Sawn Bluestone
    • Paving insert and brick border to match existing paving

Landscape Area

    • Front and Rear Garden