Sue Meli, Gisborne

72 Dalton Street, Gisborne (2016)

Open Date
19-20 Nov. 2016
Garden Entry

Note: This garden was opened in 2016

A little history….

Leaving an established house and garden in Brisbane to be closer to family brought the owners to Gisborne. They looked extensively at land with the view to building a modern energy efficient home for their young family. Eventually 72 Dalton Street came on the market, it met all their requirements.

The next step was to engage an Architect who shared their dream, they found Michael O’Sullivan from Vibe Design Group, Melbourne.

The house was to incorporate passive solar design elements with open plan living and connect to the landscape with an aesthetic street presence – (garage out of site)

The build was completed in May 2010, then it was time to garden!

The Brief

To retain and enhance the connection of the house to the surrounding bushland reserve.  To create different spaces in the garden for the children to play and explore.  The garden was to be low in maintenance and water use.

The Site

The site presented a number of issues, these included

  • shallow top soil with a heavy clay base
  • damaged soil profiles after building works
  • storm-water drainage swale through site easement
  • heavy winter frosts

Site Assets

  • a natural bush setting with mature Eucalypts providing beautiful afternoon shade
  • long uninterrupted views through the estate
  • well drained site with many interesting levels to create different garden spaces
  • and clients keen on gardening – such a bonus!

Design Response

It was crucial in designing the garden to deal with drainage through the site.  This was achieved with the creation of two dry creek beds, one to back of the garden and the other running under the rear deck.

Generous spaces and organic lines soften the houses architecture and blend it back into the natural landscape. Intimate spaces are surrounded with swathes of mass planting and natural pathways lead you through the garden linking the spaces.

A limited plant palette with muted tones further blends the garden with the broader landscape, while contrasting foliage and form link the garden back to the modern architecture of the house.


This is a very young garden and there are spaces that will be developed in the future with the addition of sculpture and water.

As the garden grows it will inform us as to how these elements will be introduced.

For now its a matter of observing and nurturing this garden through its adolescence and beyond.