John Patrick, Toorak

2022:  206 Williams Rd. Toorak

Open Date
12-13 Nov. 2022
Garden Entry

Open 10:00 to 5:00


The garden around this splendid nineteenth century house was a wasteland when Kristen and Michael set out to restore the house and establish a garden setting that was appropriate to the house and its style and to their lifestyle.  Neither were gardeners but both enjoyed nice gardens and they were especially keen that their garden should be sufficiently robust to withstand the vigorous activities of their dogs, both garden enjoyers!

The rear garden also needed to allow for different uses, there was for example, a need to bring a car in to the rear space when they went on holiday, a need to store bins and to have a place for garden equipment but these items didn’t want to be seen from the main garden courtyard if possible.  A fountain they had purchased along the way needed to be accommodated and the garden was to provide for outdoor meals and gathering with friends.  To the front there was the need to have a well-considered entry path, given the quite steep slope from the public footpath, and while the sound of traffic on Williams Road could not be excluded from the garden, any chance to mask it ought to be taken.

The relatively modest size of the garden meant that good organisation and planning lay at the heart of works, screens towards the end of the rear garden created a small, secluded space to each boundary where service and storage could be accommodated.  A sliding rear boundary fence allowed vehicle access and a lemon in a pot took the eye to the rear of the site; this can be moved when the car comes in.  Simple, durable paving throughout secured an attractive finish that suited the period of the house, and the fountain was located to the site’s southern boundary where the flowing water dazzles reflecting the strong summer sunlight through much of the day.  Combined Box and Lilly Pilly hedging offer low maintenance walls to the garden, a secluded, sunny courtyard enjoyed by Kristen, Michael, their dogs and friends.

The front garden was terraced to create a series of layers each treated in a different way, two clipped pyramidal Lilly Pillys in the shade of the house, then a pond with fountain, its refreshing splashing acting as a mask for traffic noise and bringing life to the space and at the lowest level, the foliage of evergreen Magnolias, clipped to keep them dense, and these screen the traffic in Williams Road.  Kristen, learning about gardens all the time, has pointed out that the Lilly Pillys originally selected as the pyramidal features to the front of the house were not tolerating shade as she had hoped they might.  Their replacement with two Sasanqua Camellias has proven a most successful alternative for not only are there good, clipped foliage plants in place but in winter they offer exquisite flower.

The lessons to be learned from this garden for new gardeners are to keep the design simple, minimise plant diversity to establish strong visual impact and try to choose plants with relatively modest maintenance demands.  As the designer of the garden, it has been wonderful to see Kristen and Michael adopt this garden and make it their own and they care for it wonderfully.