33 Clowes St. Malmsbury
“Melrose” is a circa 1860s bluestone cottage. When acquired in 2005 by the current owner it had been derelict for some time. The garden comprised an original rose bed at the entrance, some shrubs on one side, a Pear tree, an ornamental Plum tree and a horse paddock!
The garden was developed gradually as building works and pool construction permitted, with the final areas landscaped and planted during the course of 2011. Accordingly, much of the development of the garden took place during years of drought, and then during extreme wet.
This influenced the design, with a view to creating an environment that would provide sanctuary and protection from the harsh climatic conditions and, by necessity, working with robust plantings. The garden has been designed with a mix of elements – with some formality and symmetry, some romance and wildness, a mingling of ornamentals and productive plants and the use of local recycled materials and artefacts from overseas.
A courtyard around the living and dining areas was designed to provide shade from the western and northern sun in summer, and light in winter. Grape vines are trained along a pergola that stretches across the courtyard so that there is a canopy of leaves (and grapes) in summer, allowing the doors of the house to be left open for breezes and fresh air. Fragrance comes from the Star Jasmine and Citrus flowers. The design is Mediterranean with iron windows from Turkey, a Tuscan gravel surface and pots of citrus. A fishpond sits in the centre and helps create a feeling of coolness during summer.
An old lean-to kitchen cottage was relocated from the bluestone house to the far corner of the property to use as a gardeners’ shed for planning and contemplating. This provided an opportunity to create a vegetable garden in front of the shed as if it were an independent living space with its own garden. Four beds are bordered on two sides by espaliered heritage apples and the entire garden is enclosed. A rose arbour entrance leads into the vegetable garden with privet hedging on either side. The pathways have been made with recycled bricks from the original chimney attached to the cottage.
Next to the shed and vegetable garden, a chicken house has been built, with a similar pitch to the shed at right angles to it and set at a level to allow storage underneath. Fruit trees were established in the enclosed run before the introduction of chickens, to create shade and also for access by the chickens to fallen fruit.
The pool is on the other side of the Privet hedge. The aim was to integrate the pool into the garden landscape to create the sense of a pond instead of a traditional formal pool separated by paving from any garden elements. Plantings go up to and over the side of the pool and incorporate grasses to help create the feel of a natural water feature. In another departure from traditional pool design, the pool area includes many productive elements – espaliered apples, a nectarine and quinces, as well as perennials, Tamarisk and Myrtle trees. Recycled sleepers form the northern wall and iron decorative doors from India provide a feature at the front of the equipment area.
The hay sheds of Central Victoria inspired the pool shed. The structure uses bush poles, recycled sleepers from the railways, recycled corrugated iron (including from an original derelict stables on the property), and recycled bricks. The interior reflects a Middle Eastern theme, with a table designed to specification from Morocco, designed striped mattresses and cushions, and Middle Eastern and Indian artefacts. It is used to relax by the pool during the day and as an entertainment space in the evening. The shed was featured in “Shed” by garden photographer Simon Griffiths.
Beyond the northern pool wall, the sloping paddock was terraced with low bluestone retaining walls, built to integrate with the bluestone cottage. The Mediterranean aesthetic was continued, with gravelled pathways, Pencil Pines, Elaeagnus, Rosemary and Echiums, but also productive plants including Olives, Pistachios, a Mulberry, Artichokes and a Pomegranate hedge.
The remainder of the garden rambles around the house, including an area of mixed plantings in winding beds to soften the outside of the pool fence, a spreading apricot tree, a nectarine tree and peach tree, with Tuscan gravel pathways throughout.