Rick Molino, Malvern

2018:  6 Lysterville Av. Malvern (2018)


Note: This garden was opened in 2018

The garden was to be an integral part of the home, each zone playing its role, functionally and aesthetically, in-step with the home’s heritage, architecture, and the overall environment.

The home, a circa 1910 Edwardian, was being renovated and extended under the careful eye of architect Chris McSteen (McSteen Tan Architects) for two wonderful clients about to embark on creating their family. My initial synopsis was very clear – for an extremely successful outcome the garden had to meet both the needs of the client as well as respect the commanding presence of the building. Extensive research and analysis into gardens and homes of the period was undertaken to strengthen knowledge.

Homage to home’s history

The garden pays homage to the period, now complementing and authentically enhancing the home’s architectural features yet also caters to frenetic modern family life. Low maintenance plants that accurately reflect the traditionally more diverse era were chosen to keep future maintenance to an acceptable level. Selected hard landscape materials stemmed from the Edwardian times including bluestone paving and steppers, granite cobbles and “filetti” stone landings.  Elements of the home’s styling were also sympathetically integrated into the garden’s design which included mirroring the shape of the front bedroom’s Bay Window into the adjacent garden’s elevated pebbled sitting area and layout of rear paved dining space.

A strong building asked for a strong garden to provide the necessary balance and inter-connection where both enhanced the other without competing. There is an atmosphere of suspense and adventure about the garden achieved by the varied use of sculptural plant forms and strategic arrangement of plantings compared to what could have been so commonplace. The established existing Palms and Crepe Myrtle were retained because they gave the renovated garden an immense presence and were also common to the period, while the Crepe Myrtle additionally offered a unique majestic abstract form via its multi-branched, smooth barked structure.

Welcoming visitors

From the street frontage, the garden gives visitors a welcoming sense of drawing you in to enter and explore. The bluestone pathways guide you through navigating the garden and arriving at various stone landings where there is something new to enjoy. A subtle use of varied levels throughout the garden creates a sense of dimension and further adds to the element of mystery and journey.

Making your way from the front garden, around the side and into the rear, the garden reveals itself both slowly and dramatically – the striking structure of various sized Buxus Balls, the subtle and welcoming fragrances from the Gardenia and a touch of colour from the Camellias. The side passage that connects the front to the rear garden has interestingly become a very enchanting place when typically these utility spaces are treated more as a mere pedestrian function.

As you wander past the row of elliptical bay trees and pass through the side gate into the rear garden, the enticing fruit of the columnar apples greets you and the garden opens up to reveal an undeniably family friendly space of lawn, various entertaining zones and lower-level harvest garden intrinsic to the client’s rich cultural heritage.

With every passing season there is something new to enjoy, and as the garden continues to mature and establish, the painstaking process of hand selecting every detail brings a heightened level of enchantment to the home and has helped create a garden that now sits very naturally and comfortably in its surroundings.