Australian landscape architect Nathan Burkett designed this elegant garden by using the curves and slopes of the site to great advantage; it is now a fabulous space that can be used both in the day and night.
Melbourne-based landscape architect Nathan Burkett is one of Australia’s leading garden designers. With a degree in Landscape Architecture in 2002, Burkett began his own firm – Nathan Burkett Design (NBD) – in 2004.
The firm offers a complete design service right from consultation to construction. Burkett’s work has been featured in various publications around the world and the firm has won several awards including awards in the 2011 and 2012 Abode awards and a Gold Medal at the 2013 AILDM National Landscape Design Awards.
This featured project won multiple awards including the awards at the AILDM National Landscape Design Awards 2010 and the Allan Correy award for design excellence.
This contemporary garden is a mix of curved and straight lines, of textures and colour, of slopes and steps. There are actually two separate outdoor spaces that have distinct individual characteristics, but also merge together at some point to create a fluid outdoor environment that works in all seasons.
NBD began work with a blank slate as the site was part of a newly built house. “There is a spacious alfresco area which uses Ornamental Pear trees together with a striking sculpture to draw the eye out across a lush green lawn and up towards the tennis court. To the right, granite steps ascend past the cascading water feature and plunge pool to an elevated sun lounge area,” explains Burkett.
The alfresco dining area leads to a wood-floored outdoor area which curves into the garden space, blending both together. A raised concrete block houses the sun loungers and the pool, which in turn overlooks the water feature below.
The elevated pool area also offers an overview of the tennis court at the far end of the garden. The line of Ornamental Pears along the fence line proves an effective counterpoint to the curving topography of the garden.
“The original site had many awkward level changes. Straight and curved lines were used to accommodate the site’s undulating topography so that the different levels became a feature rather than having retaining walls. We avoided using steps where we could to ensure level changes were seamless.”
The curves of the site were further accentuated by low curving white ‘walls’ that end at a magnificent spiral sculpture. We created this garden at a time when curved walls were not very common in contemporary gardens. The garden had a tennis court that was at a higher level to the rest of the garden and a sloping lawn down towards the house. We made the slope a feature and used swerving retaining walls that emerged out of the lawn and disappeared back into the lawn to soften the design of the garden.
The colour scheme has been kept simple with the palette sticking to just shades of green. It is the multiple textures that give the space the edge – from the trees, to the concrete to the sheen of the sculpture. At night, strategically placed lights illuminate the garden, the walls, the trees and also the sculpture, resulting in a magical space that makes a successful transition from day to night.
On another side of the house, a small Zen garden brings calm to the space with large white stepping stones laid on white pebbles. This tranquil space is accessed directly from the house and is accentuated by plants and a little water feature.
It has been six years since the project was completed. Looking back, would Nathan Burkett have done something different with the space? “No I don’t believe I would have done anything differently. At the time I was really happy with what was created as there was nothing else like it. The home owners wanted something a little out of the box, something that had not been done before and so we just went ahead and made their wish our command!”
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Andrew Ashton