While a backyard of hard-packed clay and rubble would be an eyesore for most, for Mark Bell from Bell Landscapes it was a blank canvas full of potential.
Taking full advantage of the open space allotted for the garden, Mark decided to divide it into multiple destinations. Areas were designated for entertainment, relaxation and play so there was something for everyone – parents, children and dogs. Leading out from the back door, a raised barbecue deck was created, the first of many social hubs. The burnt-umber timber used for the entertaining deck was a recurring design feature throughout the garden, fashioned into paths, fences, stairs, retaining walls and benches, visually tying together the various garden spaces.
A cantilevered timber bench, which hovers over a pebbled pathway, marks the second point of rest, offering an informal place to relax and a great view of the swimming pool. A second path, of basalt concrete steppers, leads through the lawn, via a wooden decking platform, to the pool area. This deck, placed just outside the pool’s glass fence perimeter, features dramatic purple New Zealand flax in white planter boxes and a pair of sunloungers.
To the right of the pool, an expansive turf area was created for the enjoyment of the dogs and children.
In the back corner of the garden, a pergola sits in comfortable seclusion beneath an overhanging gum tree, its roofless, vine-covered frame ensuring the space is naturally lit. This is an intimate space for two that has been furnished with round woven wicker chairs and a coffee table in earthy shades. A black firepit gives the space a feeling of Zen-like calm while a white ceramic water bowl adds an air of tranquillity. An uplit Buddha statue sits serenely in the garden to the side of the pergola, reinforcing the overall sense of serenity.
To soften the garden’s built elements, Mark put considerable thought into the planting palette. Some plants were chosen for privacy screening, others for garden borders and yet others to define garden zones. Some were used for mass planting and visual effect. A stroll around the garden reveals cordylines, liriope, Chinese fringe flowers, magnolias and golden cane palms, among others. Succulents (including agaves, flap jacks and crassula) were used for their architectural appearance and contrasting form while native violas were used in some areas as a groundcover.
The landscape was built with great care. Such attention to detail, which can be seen in the paving and decking, adds a level of sophistication that ensures a welcoming space both day and night.
Thus, what started out as a blank canvas finished as a vibrant multi-dimensional landscape with spaces for everyone.