A Swedish-Inspired Garden In Suburban Melbourne!






When Penny Starr was engaged by a young couple to redesign their garden in Rosanna (12 kilometres north-east from the Melbourne CBD), their existing outdoor spaces had few notable features. ‘The garden was basically a blank canvas, with nothing worth saving, other than the gum tree in the front garden,’ Penny says.

The brief was to revitalise the garden in a ‘modern cottage’ style, that would also address the practical needs of the clients’ young family.

Being new parents, the clients were after a secure front yard, including a patio large enough for a pram. A sweeping driveway now leads to the house, adjoined by a densely planted perennial garden, and gravel void showcasing the towering lemon-scented gum.

The backyard design is equally focused on functionality, containing spaces for entertaining including a bluestone paved area directly off the kitchen and family areas. While curves define the front garden, straight lines feature in the back, such as in the new covered pergola. A lawn bordered by a lavender hedge and screening trees provides space for children to play.

Though it was designed around very practical needs, Penny’s design does not compromise on aesthetics. A green outlook has been created from every room in the house, with an overall look derived from acclaimed Swedish landscape designer Ulf Nordfjell’s ‘The Daily Telegraph Garden’, which won best show garden at the 2009 Chelsea Flower Show. Ulf’s English cottage meets Scandi minimalism aesthetic is particularly referenced in Penny’s material palette, which comprises black timber, white masonry, concrete and gravel, with contrasting purple, white and green foliage.

Among plants in this garden are forest pansy, winter glow ornamental pear for its long leaf hold, and a snow pear in the courtyard. Flowering perennials include irises, agapanthus, and Christmas lilies, while Buxus balls and a privet hedge provide structure. ‘Fences are softened with climbing plants such as star jasmine and Boston ivy,’ says Penny.

‘The garden feels tranquil, and while it always looks lush thanks to the evergreen plants, there’s always something happening to mark the seasons.’

See more of Penny Starr Design’s work here!

Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Photo – Caitlin Mills.

A lush lavender hedge in the back garden. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

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