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A modern Highett garden.

By James Wall

Was lucky enough to visit two gardens in the 2014 Garden Design Fest and this garden in a Melbourne suburb called Highett was one of them.

It was designed by Stephen Read. I found it to be a very refreshing garden and it reinforced some old ideas and introduced some new.

The use of bollards might be an old idea, but it was executed with perfection. The curve of the structures and the simplicity of the planting of Bearberry Cotoneaster dammeri that surround the solitary Cypress, and common plant in this suburbia. The house seems protected yet at the same time open to the world around it.

But what really hits you in the face as you walk in is this stunning wall of Boston Ivy intertwined with Chinese Star Jasmine. In this spring November garden, it was peaking.

This Chinese Star Jasmine by itself looked pretty good too ! And further in behind the bollards was a nice sitting area surrounder by a ‘wonderful’ Pomegranate hedge with Feather reed grass. Hmmm what a good idea. I could imagine mum out here on the ipad, just getting away for a bit of wireless online shopping.

Another fence covered spectacularly but this time with Boston Ivy and Silver Vein Creeper, another one of the Parthenocissus species and another stunning blending of varieties.

Heading down the side of the house, note the red bricks drawing you along what is a very narrow path, but which allows for a nice wide vegetable garden, sensibly designed on the north side of the block. Incorporating terracotta pots into the actual garden, creates a really nice effect, especially with some blue lobelia added for colour.

At this point you reach the backyard. In between the paving is three poignant olive trees and pencil pines adorn the main bed. They are surround by Salvia and Rudbeckia. There appear to be more pomegranate along the back fence, but this is still a young planting and the garden hasn’t yet fully pronounced its full coming.

From there, the things that really impressed me were the differing levels of the ground and the way decking and garden had been incorporated. Nothing was too overdone, but there was just so much there to take in. I am sure the proud owners spend hours siting out there with a paper, occasionally peering up to watch it grow.

A fig tree which will one day shade the house and provide food for the family in just a month or so’s time. A great place to end this little tour. I hope you enjoyed this garden as much as i did. Its simplicity in the front, flowed through to a more complex back yard, that in about 5 years time would have me really curious in seeing. I left this garden content. I wanted to go around each next corner….yes it really dragged me in. It is a privilege for both the designer and owner to let us see it. Next time you hear about an open garden, why don’t you just drop by for a little bit of inspiration….and a little bit of joy. 

Stephen Read Landscape Design website.

Garden Design Fest website.

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