There are many things to consider when designing the garden of a Victorian era home. Do you work with the layers of history or start from scratch? Do you reconstruct a period garden or create a garden with a modern aesthetic?
Faced with a crumbling 1950s concrete path, a "Victorian style" aluminium fence and unruly vegetation - the layers of history were not kind to this family home in Elsternwick. The decision was made for a complete overhaul of the front garden, to return the sense of place to the elegant Victorian architecture.
In Victorian times, a bold sense of arrival dominated the front gardens. We achieved this by replacing the diagonal 1950s path with a dark, honed concrete path leading straight to the front steps. To allow the garden to be viewed from the street, the aluminium "Victorian style" fence was replaced with brick pillars, using bricks common to the Victorian era. Between the brick pillars are steel slat inserts, providing a sense of security and giving a modern edge to the design.
The planting wraps around the two lawn areas. We kept a Golden Elm and widened the beds to keep the garden in scale with the architecture; the wide beds also provide ample space for a lush, layered planting. Both the Victorians and modern day designers love bold textures, so we filled the garden with Miscanthus, Canna and Cottonus. To create a sense of uniformity in a sea of opulent plants we massed Lomandra tanika along the front boundary and adjacent to the house.
We continued the sense of opulence down the sides of the home. On the West facing side we planted the tall and narrow Pyrus Capital, which will shade the home from the harsh afternoon sun whilst allowing light into the windows during the rest of the day. The Pears are under planted with Clivea, and we kept the existing Camellias (happier now under the shade of the Pears). The East side of the house is cool all year round, so we planted Japanese maples and under planted with a variety of shade-loving favourites.
On this occasion, we opted to start from scratch. We also worked hard to maintain the old world charm of the property. We installed a modern fence and path, then balanced the garden with an opulent planting which would be appreciated by current owner and Victorian socialite alike.