South Melbourne Retreat

Whoever said bigger is better certainly hasn’t visited our South Melbourne Retreat.

We aimed to bring as much greenery into the space as possible so that when you’re within the house looking out, you feel enveloped by green. We painted the existing brick walls black and then grew Parthenocissus tricuspidata – Boston Ivy on it, allowing the green to cover the space and diffuse the walls and boundaries. The two Acer palmatum – Japanese Maples on either side of the garden will, in time, provide a canopy over the area, creating a peaceful garden. We incorporated a feature bowl filled with succulents and Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ to offer a subtle focal point in the garden, viewable from the bedroom overlooking the garden.

From a functional perspective, we placed the bin storage to the left of the garden out of prime view and screened it with a timber batten gate. The garden is contemporary in style, so we used a series of concrete strips with bluestone inlays that float across the garden to the front door. Because they’re elongated, they make the front garden feel larger while adding the functional element of a garden path.

In the rear garden, our brief was protection and privacy. Our clients needed protection from the heat of the northern sun and privacy from the surrounding properties. We incorporated two elements to aid screening; a large open pergola draped in Vitis vinifera – Grape Vine to provide dappled shade in the summer months. The vine is deciduous, so it will allow the light to shine through during Melbourne’s cooler months. We planted Parthenocissus tricuspidata – Boston Ivy below to climb the fence and create this beautiful green effect of varying foliage sizes and textures.

Behind the concrete bench seat, we planted pleached Carpinus betulus to create a privacy screen blocking out the side of the property. To underplant, we opted for an evergreen palette of Rhaphiolepis ‘Oriental Pearl’, Iris germanica and Ophiopogon japonicus – Mondo Grass.

This garden is one of our all-time favourite courtyard garden designs, and we hope that our clients continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

Plant Selection

    • Acer palmatum
    • Carpinus betulus
    • Dichondra 'Silver Falls'
    • Iris germanica
    • Ophiopogon japonicus
    • Parthenocissus tricuspidata
    • Rhaphiolepis 'Oriental Pearl'
    • Vitis vinifera

Hardscape Specification

    • Bluestone paving
    • Burnished concrete paving
    • Burnished concrete bench seat
    • 'H' beam steel pergola with stained timber insert
    • Stained timber battens fixed to horizontal beams overhead
    • Vertical timber batten screens

Landscape Area

    • Front and rear gardens
Design by - Ian Barker Garden Design
Constructed by - Ian Barker Landscapes
Photography by - Claire Takacs