Ian Barker, Deepdene

2022:  9 Barnsbury Rd. Deepdene

Open Date
12 & 13 Nov. 2022
Garden Entry

Open 10:00 to 5:00


Photos by Claire Takacs

Legend has it that the original gardens of this one-acre property in Deepdene were designed by William Guilfoyle, creator of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, in the 1860s. Our client’s brief was to preserve and restore as much of the original garden charm as possible while dedicating areas to entertaining and relaxation. In the front garden, we wanted to provide a modern twist to the old-world style. We designed and constructed a large sweeping lawn edged with garden beds of mixed perennials and grasses, all offset by original established Quercus palustris (Pin Oaks). The terrace, path and outdoor dining area feature large bluestone pavers, while the rest of the hardscape material palette consists of granite rock gravel and Torquay stones.

A nationally registered 135 + year-old Quercus suber (Cork Oak) is located in the front garden. Preserving a tree of this maturity was an absolute must for our Design & Construction teams and for our clients. During the construction phase, we had the ground x-rayed prior to excavation to ensure we had a clear plan of its root system and construction works wouldn’t disturb the tree. To preserve as much of the property’s original charm as possible, we also restored the original rose arbours in the front garden and the existing sculptures throughout the garden back to their former glory.

The original Cork Oak and restored arbours anchor the garden in its history, while new plantings, including Topiary, Salvia ‘Caradonna’, and Verbena bonarisensis, created a vibrant, textured vista beyond.

In the rear garden, the goal was outdoor entertaining. The talking point of this area is a 13-metre-long bench seat clad in bluestone herringbone tiles with mired edges. A tranquil pond surrounded by statuesque topiary was introduced to add a feeling of calmness and relaxation to the landscape. We followed a very similar planting palette to the front garden by interpreting traditional old-world style into a more contemporary manner, allowing for a seamless flow between the old and new. The garden is layered with an evergreen hedge of Prunus lustanica, providing a backdrop to the elegant pleached Carpinus betulus (Hornbeams). An array of perennials in balanced tones of purple, blue, pink and red make up the foreground.

Our clients are garden-lovers and enthusiastically embraced the entire process. We cannot thank them enough for entrusting us with their garden. To say it was a privilege to design and construct Deepdene Forest is an understatement. As a child, Ian used to pass by this property every day on the school bus and often wondered who lived there. To have the ability to design this garden and help to bring back the original grandeur of the 150-year-old garden was one of the most rewarding jobs of Ian’s life.