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Designing ‘Summer Shade & Winter Light’

Brixley Graham from Garden Blueprints explains the process of designing an award-winning show garden for Country Earth and the 2018 Perth Garden Festival


Designing ‘Summer Shade & Winter Light’ for Country Earth at the 2018 Perth Garden festival was a great opportunity to design a garden that showcased John Cory’s beautiful pavers in a layout that was also dynamic, interesting and attainable.

We also wanted to highlight the importance of designing a garden to suit our extreme range of climate using a shade structure facing the best weather (East and North) and protected from the worst (West and South) along with plenty of deciduous trees, due to the summer shade and winter light and warmth they provide.

10 types of pavers (from Country Earth) were to be used, varying in style from contemporary to rustic, in different sizes and colours, which was a challenging brief as usually one paver type usually works best, especially in a 10 x 10m area!

However, this challenge allowed my creative juices to flow!!

The design was turned on a 45 degree angle to create a greater sense of space and allow for deeper pockets of planting in the ‘corners’ (beautifully defined by Green Earth Enterprises corten steel edging).

This also allows for different combinations of plants which is hard to successfully achieve in straight lines (straight lines call for repetition as variation can look messy).

Designing a garden bed in the centre created a greater sense of depth to the garden and helped to define a pathway through it, that when followed revealed changing views, creating mystery, discovery and a greater sense of space.

This centre garden also allowed me to partially separate the various pavers so each one could be appreciated for its individual characteristics.

David Kiff and Sean Downey did a superb job laying the paving and constructing all the various elements of the garden.

I balanced the hard and soft-scape, with enough hard surface to make the garden functional, with plenty of garden and lawn to cool the area and make it a lovely place to spend time in.

The timber skillion roof structure, screen, decking, table and box seats were all beautifully designed and built by Paul Oorschot from WA Timber Decking Professionals, providing a shaded destination and a welcoming space to view the garden.

The sculptures, pots and water feature provided focal points and care was taken to ensure they were complimentary and visually ‘weighted’ evenly.

The stunning stainless-steel sphere was sculpted by the very talented Martin Jaine, our pots and water feature pot were kindly lent to us from Creation Landscape Supplies, and the Cordara art installation was brilliantly built on site by David Kiff and Sean Downey.

The plant selection was limited to a few select species with the emphasis on varying texture, in different shades of bright to rich green, rather than lots of different plants and flowers which would have looked too busy and overcomplicated.

Domus Nursery generously provided all the gorgeous shrubs, grasses and groundcovers, Lovegrove Turf supplied the lawn and Tassone Trees happily lent us some lovely trees – at the very last minute.

The plants I used were mostly old favourites plus a couple of new releases. I usually do this when designing home gardens, to keep a balance between reducing risk, and keeping the look fresh!

The show garden was a real pleasure to design and build, due to a very helpful and highly skilled team and the generous contributors.

This landscape display reflects many elements I also incorporate when designing home gardens. I hope it gave people some great ideas and inspiration, and I look forward to next years Perth Garden Festival!

Summer Shade & Winter Light was designed by Brixley Graham of Garden Blueprints and construction, project management, paving, cladding, trees and Cordara art installation were by Country Earth. The garden was awarded Gold at the 2018 Perth Garden Festival.

Find out more about Country Earth here.