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May 16, 2012, 11:25 am Words by Anna Dessaix, Styling by Wendy Bannister, Photography Derek Swalwell, Yahoo!7
Step inside a seasonal European-style garden designed for minimal maintenance and maximum pleasure.
with less time spent in gardening gloves. “Placing the plants in groups allows them to be pruned quickly and easily, as opposed to tending to multiple varieties throughout the year,” explains Daniel. “It also simplifies the feeding application and makes watering more efficient, as there is nothing begging for more water.” ''
Ardent gardeners Robert and Hugh find contentment in the clipping of hedges and delight in the artistry of a well-manicured lawn. They are also keen travellers; biannual jaunts to faraway places fuel them with garden inspiration, but surely, as the frequent flyer miles rack up, their Melbourne plot runs a little ragged?Not the case, apparently. Clever planning and plant selection have resulted in a garden so easy to maintain, the pair can leave it
for months on end and still return to a beautiful space. “Coming home to the garden, to see how it has changed, is always a pleasure. The lawn and hedges may need a quick clip, but apart from that, it really takes care of itself,” explains Robert.The master behind this particular tour de force is Daniel Piper of Daniel Piper Garden Designs (danpipergardens.com.au). His
retained a classic style, to complement the weatherboard house.”When Robert and Hugh made the call to update in 2007, their rambling cottage garden was beginning to lose its way. “Our
English-style garden was very pretty but we had to spend every weekend tending to it. We didn’t have the time,” explains Robert.
Then I retired and as we travelled a lot more, it was difficult to find someone to maintain the garden while we were away. So we decided some changes had to be made.”
To make matters more pressing, at the time, Melbourne was facing severe water restrictions, which created greater difficulty in maintaining the thirsty cottage garden. Daniel responded with a unique garden design that walks the line between beautiful aesthetics and resource-wise principles.
In the front garden, Daniel created a simple scheme with a welcoming feel. Boston ivy blankets the floor, evergreen viburnum hedges add year-round lushness and magnificent deciduous crepe myrtles provide the big finish as they flower, flame and the leaves fall. Opting for just a few elements also makes for easier pruning and by grouping plants with similar needs, less water is wasted.
The back garden required more labour – Daniel’s first job was to remove the plants that weren’t working in order to enhance those that were. He didn’t touch the beautiful deciduous ginkgo trees, adding another to increase their impact as they change throughout the year. A cool, shaded spot under the trees was reserved for the winter-flowering camellias, where they would need very little additional watering.
“The camellias add a touch of what would have been typical in the area when water was freely available, but there are other floral varieties that we had to move away from,” explains Daniel. A water-efficient lawn was paramount too and after much consideration, Daniel settled on soft leaf buffalo, which is easy to maintain and retains its fresh green hue throughout the year. Two huge rainwater tanks were placed behind the garage and drip-line irrigation was installed to service the newly-planted lawn.For Robert and Hugh, the space provides the therapy of a seasonal garden when they are at home and the freedom to switch to autopilot when they are away. “There are points of interest throughout the year, yet this is not a garden of annuals,” says Robert. “Our English garden was pretty but this is a very handsome European garden.”