Archives for Garden Design

chinese pagoda Kew Gardens

Chinese Landscaping and Melbourne Gardens

Chinese Landscaping (中国园林) is well known for its use of decorative design elements and the use of the concept of the “ideal miniature” as a landscape design tool.

The Chinese garden culture has more than three thousand years old design tradition. It is a unique phenomenon in landscape architecture and human cultural history. It is the oldest continuous garden and landscape concept in the world, dating back to the Shang dynasty in the 2nd century B.C when the transformation of natural landscape arrived at the phase where gardens for pleasure, recreation, happiness, and laugher could appear.

豫园 Yù Yuán /yoo ywen/ 'Happiness Garden'

Yu Yuan (豫园) Gardens or Happiness Gardens , Shanghai, China. These gardens are thought to be more than 400 years old and may date back to the Ming Dynasty.

The Yu Yuan Garden (豫园) is compromised  of six different scenic areas. These are the Inner Garden, Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, and the Yuhua Hall. These gardens are a great example of the Chinese landscape design concept of the idealised miniature,

Amongst the many highlights of the garden are; exquisite sculptures, classical Chinese architecture and beautiful chinese carvings.

The Chinese garden converted and improved natural landscapes with deep symbolism. The level of garden spaces is strictly bound, giving substantial importance to hills, rocks, and water.

Suzhou chinese garden

The Suzhou Chinese garden. According to UNESCO, “The classical gardens of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China date back to the 6th century BCE when the city was founded as the capital of the Wu Kingdom” The Chinese garden design seeks to recreate natural landscapes as an idealised miniature and the Suzhou gardens are a great example of this.

The Chinese garden emulates a deep understanding of nature and its procedures. They are composed of a series of landscape portraits, a picture from individual points from window frames along corridors of a set of buildings. Chinese landscape is an idealised miniature, which is meant to express the harmony between man and nature.


The planting design of traditional Chinese gardens does not apply to a wide variety of ornamental plants. Not so much in the variability, but the decorative appearance and the deep symbolical meaning are forefront in Chinese planting design. Trees with the irregular arrangement, meadow or pasture, but huge water surfaces instead, always with lotus plant cover representing purity and admired in the Buddhist philosophy.

A typical Chinese landscape is enclosed by walls and includes:

  • One or more ponds.
  • Rock works.
  • Trees and flowers.
  • An assortment of halls with the garden provides a carefully composed scene to the visitors.
Landscaping with rocks, paths and gravel.

Landscaping with rocks, paths and gravel.



Feng Shui is a system of the earliest Chinese practises that aim to increase the happiness and comfort of the human inside a home, an office, or a garden. It stimulates the good flow of energy in that space. Chi is a term used in Feng shui to refer to the universal energy present in and around us. Feng shui aims to direct the flow of Chi within our space to contribute to a good flow of Chi inside ourselves as well. Because due to this energy, humans connect to the area.

Feng shui means knowing how to choose the right colours and decorative elements and use them in the specific areas of your home to bring about nourishing energy to your space and the different areas of your life. Feng shui is not an imposition of strict rules because no strictness breeds a healthy flow of energy. There are five elements of feng shui: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These five elements’ correct position and placement in our space can stimulate Chi and promote our wellbeing.

Feng shui 5 elements

The five elements of feng shui: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These five elements’ correct position and placement in our space can stimulate Chi and promote our wellbeing.


The wood element withstands vitality, health, and growth. Wood is also an element of abundance. The use of wood encourages wealth and prosperity. It is expressed in green and brown colours. Decorative elements that add wood to your space are lush and healthy plants, green pillows, and vegetation. The element fire brings energy from the sun and with it a sense of joy and creativity. It is also an element of love, romance, and passion. To add this element to your space, use candles of different colours, fire images, yellow lampshades, etc. The element earth stand for nourishment, protection, stability, and support. It provides us with an inner sense of ground and space. It is a crucial element to add to our hectic and stressful modern lives. This element is expressed in beige, sandy, and taupe colours. The fourth element of Feng shui is metal. It brings discipline, structure, productivity, and efficiency. Metal eliminates distraction and helps in creating a sense of clarity, calm, and lightness. Its colours are white and grey. Use the metal to balance out overly warm and sensible places, but don’t overuse it. The fifth and final element of Feng shui is water, one of the most important and influential elements. Water brings the refreshing energy of ease and harmony. Water provides us a sense of renewal and flow. It is also a symbol of abundance and is always used in Feng shui to cultivate wealth. 

Advantages of Feng Shui 風水 in Chinese Landscaping

Feng Shui plays a crucial role in enhancing wealth. Many businessmen used it to attract clients. Proper Feng shui can greatly improve your health. It is used mainly for sickened and older people and is trusted to have potential health benefits. Feng shui principles boost mental health. By adding flowering and decorative plants, your mental health will be improved. The accidents and unwanted events can be reduced by Feng shui.


The natural garden style proved to be the symbol of liberal philosophy and the enlightened way of thinking. The modern landscape garden, which can be seen as an idealised view of nature, is inspired by classical landscape painting and the classic Chinese gardens, which European travellers have described. The interest in Chinese culture, architecture, and garden design spread around the British island and inspired talented gardeners and designers. The gardens created in the chamber made a new section in the picturesque landscaped gardens. In these so-called anglo-chinoiserie gardens, eastern, mainly Chinese architectural motivates garden elements have been used in most cases without integrating the Chinese nature philosophy. These first, more or less formal effects of Chinese garden design on modern landscape architecture were written by garden designers and horticulturists during the gardens period, where great variety in plant design was taken into the focus of landscape architecture.

The uniqueness and exoticism of Chinese art and architecture in Europe were managed in 1738 when the first Chinese house was constructed in the English garden (Stowe House Garden).

Chinese house was constructed in the English garden (Stowe House Garden)

Chinoiserie garden pavilion called the Chinese House. Thought to be the work of architect William Kent (c. 1685-1748), commissioned by Sir Richard Temple, Viscount Cobham (1675-1748), by 1738. Enclosed wooden rectangular structure, painted with chinoiserie designs, with latticework windows and with a gabled roof with lead covering and two gilded fish finials.Due to William Chamber, who lived in China from 1745-1747, the style became more popular . He built a Great Chinese pagoda (A Chinese house) in London (Kew Garden). After that, Chinese pagodas began to appear in other English gardens. Subsequently, the term Anglo-Chinese garden for this style of landscaping.

chinese pagoda Kew Gardens

The Chinese Pagoda Kew Gardens.

In the 19th century, the gardening interests of the west had turned towards the display of rare and exotic plants. Plant collectors discovered a paradise in China. Garden borders and woods started to blossom soon with species of azalea and rhododendron, which are found in the wild foothills of the Himalayas.


From 1970, the Chinese traders were visiting the north coast of Australia. After the British settlement (1788), many Chinese people came as workers, prisoners, and fee settlers. After that, the Chinese arrival to Australia was not significant until the Victorian (the 1850s) and New South Wales gold rushes. From the Victorian gold rush, the number of Chinese people in Australia reached 50,000.

Melbourne’s Chinatown has a long and memorable history starting from the Victorian gold rush in 1850-51 when the Chinese immigrants came to Australia for the gold rush in search of gold. In late 1854, the first Chinese lodging houses were created in Little Bourke Street and Celestial Avenue. This specific place was considered suitable for the settlers, as it was a staging post for new Chinese colonists and supplies en route to the goldfield. It is known to be the oldest Chinatown in Australia. The goldfield ultimately diminished, which caused a shift from rural living and the arrival of people migrating into metropolitan Melbourne.

chinatown melbourne

Dating back to the gold rush era, Chinatown in Melbourne is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world.

After the fading of the gold rush, when the mining of gold became far less profitable, market gardening became the subsequent most common Chinese occupation, especially in Victoria. Up until the 1900s, almost one-third of the Chinese population in Victoria was involved in market gardening. Even during the goldfield era, the Chinese grew their vegetables, in many cases earning more money than mining in the goldfield. In Melbourne, there were market gardens along Merri Creek and in Suburbs such as Brighton and Caulfield. Chinese used handmade tools for work gardening work.


China is known as the “mother of gardens.” Being marginally larger in mass than the United States, the number of native species of higher pants of China is close to 30,000, of which 7000 are trees around one-eighth of the world’s total. The majority of the garden around the globe possibly comprise at least one plant originating in China, more likely many. Following are the five best Chinese plants.

1)   DOVE TREE (Davidia involucrate)

The dove tree, also known as the handkerchief tree, belongs to the family Cornaceae. The dove tree is native to Chine but can also cultivate in other parts of the world. This tree has come to be a famous decorative tree in gardens in Australia. This plant is temperately fast-growing. The height of this plant ranges from 15-20 metres.

Davidia involucrate handkerchief tree DOVE TREE

Flowers of a dove tree or handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata .

The leaves of the dove tree are small and heart-shaped. Its flower cannot be seen easily and has two attractive and big white bracts suspended from the stem-like handkerchief. Ta’s why this plant is also known as the handkerchief plant. The flower is located between these bracts. This plant requires a temperate and cold climate. Dove plants grow well in full sun or semi-shade. This plant requires Well-drained and rich soil.

2)   CHINESE PISTACHIO (Pistacia chinensis)

The Chinese pistachio is a lovely small and medium deciduous tree used as an ornamental shade tree. This tree is drought tolerant and has a neat hemispherical appearance. Chinese pistachio grows well in full sun to partial shade on moderately fertile, well-drained soils. This plant provides good Autumn colour, with leaves turning beautiful shades of orange and red.

Chinese Pistachio

The Chinese pistachio This plant provides great Autumn colour for your Melbourne garden, with leaves turning beautiful shades of orange and red

The Chinese pistachio produces panicles of greenish flowers in April and May. The female tree of the Chinese pistachio attracts birds by bearing small white flowers.

Chinese Pistachio (Pistacia chinensis)

Chinese Pistachio (Pistacia chinensis) is drought tolerant and has a neat hemispherical appearance. Chinese pistachio grows well in full sun to partial shade on moderately fertile, well-drained soils.It also produces small round orange to red drupes that ripens in October. The bark of growing Chinese pistachio is grayish brown and, if peeled from the tree, reveals a shocking salmon pink interior.

3)   Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Ginkgo, also known as maidenhair tree, is a deciduous tree native to China. Since ancient times, this plant has been planted in Chinese and Japanese temple gardens and is now valued in several parts of the world like a fungus and insect-resistant ornamental plant. This plant can tolerate cold weather and also can survive in adverse atmospheric conditions of urban areas.

gingko tree, maidenhair tree

Ginkgo biloba tree in yellow , golden leaves of Ginkgo Biloba autumn colours (gingko tree, maidenhair tree)

The ginkgo tree is pyramidal in shape with a sparingly branched trunk up to 30 metres tall. Ginkgo has been used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Ginkgo, also known as maidenhair tree, is a deciduous tree native to China

A young Ginkgo Tree, also known as maidenhair tree, is a deciduous tree native to China.

At the end of the 20th century, the extract of ginkgo was used for its supposed memory-enhancing property. Many varieties are also available for landscape use, including columnar types and others favoured for better growth habits, fall colour, and other desired qualities.


Bamboos are a woody perennial plant that belongs to the true grass family Poaceae. The plant size is different from species to species, from giant timber to small annuals. Bamboo species are mainly divided into two main types such as runners and clumpers. Running produce shots several metres away from parent plant whereas clumpers trees grow into a slowly expanding tuft. Planting bamboo in the ground requires minimal preparation of soil. Just dig the soil and plant the clunking varieties.  Bamboo grows best in well-drained soil. Bamboo is a versatile plant but choosing a suitable variety is essential when growing it in a garden.

5)   CHRYSANTHEMUM (Chrysanthemum indicum)

Chrysanthemum is a member of the Compositae family and is available in a wide range of brilliant colours, shapes, and sizes. Chrysanthemum is first cultivated in China as a flowering herb back in the 15th century B.C. The chrysanthemum flower ranges from dazzling whites to dep bronzes, and the plants are highlighted with full dark green leaves.


Chrysanthemums have been bred to produce flowers in a range of beautiful colours.

Chrysanthemums prefer full sun therefore, keep them away from shady trees and large bushes. It requires well-drained and evenly moist soil. This plant does not like standing water and will quickly rot if lifted too wet. This plant is a heavy feeder and should be fertilised monthly. Sprinkle a balanced fertiliser at the rate of 10:10:10 around the plant. Maintain good air circulation around the plant. Stop fertilising when the flower bud emerges.




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Outdoor Entertainment Area Design

Outdoor Entertaining Area Designs.

The Outdoor Entertaining area is the ideal addition to the Melbourne Garden. Melbourne’s climate and lifestyle makes this a very practical part of the landscape design.


The Outdoor Entertaining area kitchen

The outdoor kitchen trend is a welcome part of the landscape design. Combining this with a vertical gardens with fresh cooking herbs is ideal for the Melbourne Outdoor Entertaining area design. The “Space to Grow” gold medal winning garden by Tony Woods of Garden Club London displayed many of the practical landscape design features for outdoor entertaining.

Landscape design Ideas Urban Flow by Tonny Woods

An outdoor kitchen design using a concrete bench with cooktop, wooden paling fence and vertical kitchen garden. Urban Flow by Tony Woods. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

The Outdoor Kitchen

The Kitchen was supplied by Dade Design a Swiss high end designer of architectural concrete products for indoors and outdoors. Dade Design is at the forefront of concrete design and manufacture and their products, manufactured in the Rhein Valley in Switzerland, display the perfection of Swiss precision.

Outdoor Furniture

The Outdoor furniture was supplied by Italian furniture designer and manufacturer Ethimo, a specialist high end supplier of outdoor decor and furniture.

Landscape Design of the Outdoor Entertaining Area

Using modern landscape design tools, the outdoor entertaining area can be designed and checked for aspects such as access, visibility, privacy and shade. Different landscape design concepts can be explored and fine tuned to achieve the optimal landscape design outcome for the client.

Shade over the outdoor entertaining area.

Shade over the outdoor entertaining area. Using the landscape design tools, the outdoor entertaining area can be checked for shade. If the shade is insufficient, then shade cloths can be added to the design. The optimum position for the outdoor kitchen bench can be designed in.

The outdoor fireplace is also a useful part of the landscape design in Melbourne. A chimney can be used t carry the smoke away from the guests.

Using the landscape design tools, the views from various angles can be checked for fine tuning the details of the design.

Outdoor Entertainment Area

Outdoor Entertainment Area

The landscape design tools can also be used to check the outdoor areas at night. The outdoor fire is a feature of many new outdoor areas.

Outdoor Entertaining Area

Outdoor Entertaining Area

Children’s play areas should also be considered in the landscape design.

Poolside entertainment area

Poolside entertainment area.

Outdoor entertaining areas and swimming pools go well together. The landscape design makes best use of the usable space and ensures the design themes are carried through the garden. Access to the swimming pool, seating areas and outdoor fire can be checked.


Swimming Pool Entertainment Area

Swimming Pool Entertainment Area

Pre-Cast and In-situ Concrete seating and furniture.

Outdoor furniture can be designed in a range of shapes to either maximise the usable space or soften the design with rounded shapes and adjacent lush planting. In-situ Concrete allows a range of shapes as well as durable permanent furniture.

Pool and Outdoor Entertaining area.

Pool and Outdoor Entertaining area.

Curved outdoor seating

Curved outdoor furniture with close planting softens the look of the hard landscaping. This type of furniture also makes it easier for groups of people to face each other and have a chat.

Curved Garden Seat

Curved garden seat with irregular stone paving by Naomi Ferrett Cohen Chelsea Flower show 2018.

Sunken and partially sunken areas.

Seating and colour themes that match the garden plants can be used to great effect when landscaping seating areas of the garden. Carrying a colour theme from inside the home, to the patio and then to the outdoor room areas will create an illusion of greater size in the landscape.

Fast growing Hakea salicifolia screening out the rear fence.

White sweet alyssum Lobularia mariti is a colour match for the white outdoor furniture and sandstone lawn pavers.

A sunken garden  is another way to create the illusion of greater space. In the  award winning landscape design, LG Eco City by Hay-Joung Hwang, the colours and textures of the seat cushions are match the lupins and foxgloves in the garden. This colour theme is carried on to the garden kitchen behind large opening glass sliding doors.


Garden idea - Sunken Garden

Great colour coordination with the natural concrete colour with matching outdoor couches. Note how the cushions match the colours of the garden. Chelsea Flower Show 2018. Landscape design by Hay-Joung Hwang.


Concrete Architecture

Concrete Architecture can be softened with garden plants and garden furniture. Chelsea Flower Show 2018.

Outdoor Entertaining Areas in Commercial Landscaping.

Modern Melbourne commercial landscaping of public places feature outdoor entertainment areas. Often these will consist of a permanent Barbecue with tables and seating benches. The seating benches can be made of a recycled plastic fibre composite.


Commercial Landscaping of Public Spaces

Commercial Landscaping of the Entertainment areas of public spaces often includes barbecues and sports facilities like table tennis tables.



Contact us for design and construction of your outdoor entertaining area or commercial landscaping projects.



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Concrete cantilevered steppers floating steps Modern Contemporary

5 top Landscape Design trends in Melbourne in 2021

The Landscape Design trends we are seeing in Melbourne owe much to practicality as well as the aesthetic. These trends reflect the lifestyle of summer in Melbourne but are also provide a practical landscape design with drought tolerant plants and low maintenance gardens.


1. Mid-century Palm Springs landscape design style.

This is a landscape design style associated with Cacti, Granitic Sand, Concrete Paving, and Breeze-blocks. Often this takes the form of hard landscaping in light grey or stark whites contrasting with splashes of colour from the plantings. The result is typical Palm Springs glamour with a low maintenance and drought resistant gardens.

landscape design palm springs style

Palm Springs style landscaping often features cacti, and succulents such as agave with plants to provide a splash of colour.

The dry desert climate of Palm Spring, with warm winters, and the abundance of space, is ideal for outdoor entertaining areas. Often, these will feature a fire pit area or a swimming pool as a focal point.

Custom design lap pool

Outdoor entertainment areas with a swimming pool and a fire are often features of the Palm Springs design style.

Despite the low rainfall, the courtyard swimming pool in Palm Springs is a “must have” even in the smaller landscaped gardens.

Palm Springs gardens often provide a splash of colour with hot torch lilies, geraniums, roses, and bougainvillea.

Palm Springs Landscape Design Style with Agave and Colour.

Palm Springs Landscape Design Style with Agave and Colour contrast provided by red hot poker plant (Kniphofia uvaria)


For the drought tolerant gardens, succulents, ornamental grasses and especially barrel cacti proliferate. The Palm Springs landscapers also make use of the local gravel, abundant boulders and the native palms from the area.


Palm Springs Landscaping Style with Barrel cacti and boulders.

Palm Springs Landscaping Style with Barrel cacti and boulders.


Rancho Mirage near Palm Spring in California.

Rancho Mirage near Palm Spring in California is an example of Palm Springs resort style landscaping. Agave and palms with contrasting splashes of colour contrast with the white walls of the buildings.


Indian Canyon Palm Springs.

Indian Canyon Palm Springs. The abundance of boulders and the indigenous palm trees heavily influence the Palm Springs landscape design style.


2. Tuscan Mediterranean style

The design style of the Mediterranean or Tuscan  garden is rooted in the choice of landscaping materials, textures and colours. Garden features such as cobbled paving, tiles, stones, bricks and especially terracotta will enhance the Mediterranean feel. Neatly clipped hedges, gravel mulch, and soft colours contrasting with brightly coloured tiles are often features in the Mediterranean and Tuscan gardens. For landscaping Melbourne gardens, consider mixing this with less formal ,drought tolerant plants and plants which give off a pleasant aroma.

Tuscan garden landscape design style.

Tuscan garden landscape design style with vines growing over a rustic pergola.

The rustic Tuscan garden are often associated with the Italian rural villas and are much less formal than the Italian Renaissance gardens. These gardens often feature deep blues complimenting the terracotta pots or roof tiles as well as olives, agaves and deep green mosaics.

Landscaping with olives in pots on a white balcony.

Landscaping with olives in pots on a white balcony. Olives are often a feature of Mediterranean Gardens.


The Boboli Gardens in Florence are an example of a more formal Italian design style.

The Boboli Gardens in Florence are an example of a more formal Italian design style, but the crushed granite and earthy colours are also features of the rustic Tuscan gardens.

3. Modern contemporary landscape design

This design style features concrete cantilevered concrete steps and black steel water features with lime green structural planting.

Concrete cantilevered steppers floating steps Modern Contemporary

Concrete cantilevered steppers floating steps Modern Contemporary

Balance and symmetry are features of this design style and it is the ideal design style for contemporary homes. In contrast to the design and colours of the Tuscan garden, industrial style raw concrete is common in this style of garden as well as stone and wooden garden ornaments.

Landscape design with structural lime planting.

Landscape design with structural lime planting and Italian pencil pines.


Patio with Lime green structural plantings.

The symmetry and balance of contemporary landscape design. Patio with Lime green structural plantings.

Modern Contemporary landscape design style video


4. French Provincial design

The French Provincial Landscape Design Style features Hedges, Ornamental Pears, Cobblestone driveways and anduze pots. The hedges are often box hedges (buxus) and flowering plums (prunus).

anduze pottery

Anduze pottery has been made in the Anduze commune in the south of France since the early 1600s. The design style influenced by Florentine pottery.


A French Provincial garden with patio and Anduze pots.

A French Provincial garden with patio and Anduze pots.

The French Provincial style has many similarities with the Tuscan landscaping design style.

French Provincial house

The French Provincial house is an influence on this landscape design style.



French Landscape design is influenced by the cobbled streets of France.

French Landscape design is influenced by the cobbled streets of France.

5. Coastal Garden Design Style

This design style feature loose plantings of native grasses like Lomandra, native shrubs and whitewashed timber batten screens.  Local boulders are also a big part of this landscape design style.

The coastal landscape design style is often used for hardy, low maintenance, commercial landscaping of public spaces.


Coastal Garden design style is often used in commercial landscaping.

Coastal Garden design style is often used in commercial landscaping.

Hardy Australian native grasses make an attractive and drought resistant garden.

Australian grass Swamp Foxtail, Cenchrus purpurascens

Sunlight shining through the feathery flowerheads of the native Australian grass Swamp Foxtail, Cenchrus purpurascens. Also known as Fountain Grass.

Coastal Gardens often require clever solutions to protect plants from the fierce ocean winds. One solution is to use a white washed timber batten screen. The gaps in the screen allow some of the air to move through the screen, so minimising the turbulence that occurs with a solid fence. The white batten screens can be used as a design feature and provide contrast with grasses or Xanthorrhoea and Anigozanthos in the garden.


White timber batten screen

White timber batten screen

Coastal garden plants have to endure salt spray, wind and often not very fertile sandy soils, so Lomandra is ideal for landscaping coastal gardens as it is a very hardy and drought resistant Australian Native Grass with attractive foliage.


The green lomandra makes a great contrast with this grey stone wall.

The green lomandra mass planting makes a great contrast with this grey stone wall.


Lomandra plants

Lomandra plants being planted in a new coastal garden in Hampton.

Commercial Landscaping Design Trends

In the commercial landscaping of public spaces the design trends are towards sustainability through the use of drought tolerant plant and the handling of rainwater through rain-gardens and permeable concrete. Modern Public Space Design also requires a welcoming and accessible area where people can relax with a range of activities. As with residential landscape design, there is a strong trend towards outdoor entertaining areas where people can relax around a public barbecue.


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7 Great Salvia plants for your Melbourne Garden

The Salvia plant is available in a huge range of colours and sizes for your garden. It is not really that surprising when you consider there are more than 950 species to choose from. The salvia is a member of the mint family (lamiaceae), which means it is related to some of the world’s favorite culinary herbs rosemary, basil and mint as well as the Mediterranean garden favourite, the lavender. From a distance some varieties of Salvia, resemble their cousins in the lavender world.

Whilst they are attractive garden plants, many members of this genus are also important for culinary purposes such as flavouring, teas and food crops.

Many Salvia species are native to tropical America. Wagner’s Salvia also known as chupamiel (Salvia wagneri), is probably the most spectacular of these. This shrub is really more like a tree are as it can grow over 4 metres tall in ideal conditions. Not only is this a huge shrub, but the 300mm long flowers appear as scarlet spikes with magenta calyxes.

1. Salvia Farinacea or Blue Salvia,

In the hills of southwest of North America Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea) displays its bright blue flowers after rainfall.



2. Mexican Chia (Salvia Hispanica)

Salvia hispanica, more commonly known as Mexican Chia, is one of the most important food crops from the mint family. The seeds of this annual herbaceous plant are known for being high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Salvia hispanica is native to the desert regions of Mexico which makes it a very drought tolerant plant.


3. Salvia leucantha or Mexican bush sage.

S.leucantha or Mexican bush sage an Autumn flowering perennial which can add colour to your Melbourne garden in early May. Salvias are generally drought tolerant and can handle subtropical as well as temperate climates. This makes them a good plant for temperate climates like Melbourne with its with warm to hot summers, mild and sometimes balmy springs and autumns. This plant is a favourite amongst Melbourne Gardeners and is also great for dog friendly gardens.


"salvia will add depth to your small garden. ‘Tricolor’ is a spreading evergreen sub-shrub with oblong grey-green leaves variegated with cream and flushed with purple on the youngest growth; light blue flowers open in early summer.

Variegated Varieties

A variegated variety will add depth to your small garden. ‘Tricolor’ is a spreading evergreen sub-shrub with oblong grey-green leaves variegated with cream and flushed with purple on the youngest growth; light blue flowers open in early summer.

For striking gold varigated leaves, the herb ‘Icterina’ is a evergreen dwarf shrub with aromatic, oblong leaves 3-6cm long, greyish, variegated with gold yellow and pale green. Two-lipped pale purplish-blue flowers 2cm long, in terminal racemes provide great colour contrast.
For striking gold varigated leaves, the herb ‘Icterina’ is a evergreen dwarf shrub with aromatic, oblong leaves 3-6cm long, greyish, variegated with gold yellow and pale green. Two-lipped pale purplish-blue flowers 2cm long, in terminal racemes provide great colour contrast.
Purple Sage is an aromatic perennial herb with purple grey foliage It grows to a height of 60 cm and will spread to around 45 cm. Plant in well-drained soil in a sunny sheltered location.
Purple Sage is an aromatic perennial herb with purple grey foliage It grows to a height of 60 cm and will spread to around 45 cm. Plant in well-drained soil in a sunny sheltered location.

Landscaping Ideas with Salvia


Pet Friendly Gardens

As with most culinary plants, salvia will not generally be a problem with your pets. The good news is that you are unlikely to need any snail pellets to protect your salvias. A good variety for snail resistance is s.superba.

Garden ideas for Saliva

These versatile plants are great for commercial landscapes, residential landscapes and coastal and beachside gardens. The plant can be used as either garden beds or borders as well as vegetable gardens. Most importantly, the salvia is also a must have for any ornamental garden Australia wide.

Salvia is great for garden borders and garden beds.
Salvia is great for garden borders and garden beds.

Garden Care for your Salvia

Salvias, like many Australian native plants, have evolved to grow in fairly poor soils. Apart from the alvia Uliginosa or Bog Sage, soil needs to be reasonably well drained.  Apply a soil conditioiner like a very dilute solution of Neutrog Seamungus occasionally.


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Lavender in a herbaceous border along a path.

5 ways lavender is ideal for the Melbourne garden

Lavender or lavendula is a very hardy evergreen aromatic shrub which is grown for its scent as well as its flowers.

Lavender Flower Structure

Lavender Flower attracts butterflies, honey bees and bumblebees. A honey bee sips nectar from a lavender flower.


There are many species to choose from as the genus Lavandula has more than 30 known members. The family to which the they belong is Lamiaceae.  The Lamiaceae is a huge family is well known for its aromatic volatile oils and includes plants like the Rosemary, thyme, oregano and mint. It is in fact these oils which makes the plants in the mint family so useful as medicinal and culinary plants.


English or French Lavender


The so called English version can live up to 25 years whereas the less hardy French or Spanish lavender will only live to around 5 years old. The fatter flowers of the Spanish and French varieties tend to be a little more flamboyant.


Where does Lavender come from?


The lavender grows naturally around the Mediterranean and was taken to Britain by the Romans. The Roman legions and their Greek doctors took medicinal herbs with them on their marches.

What is the origin of the name?

There are two possibilities for the origin of the name “Lavender”. Possibly it comes from the Latin “lavare” meaning to wash. It has been used since before Roman times as a bath perfume and to scent washed fabrics. The other possibility for the source of the name is the Latin “lividus” meaning blueish or livid.


Landscaping Melbourne with Lavender

This is an ideal plant for creating the authentic Mediterranean garden. It will also thrive in sunny locations in your Melbourne garden provided the soil is well draining and not too acidic.

Lavender or Lavandula with a terracotta pot

Lavandula with a terracotta pot. This is a great combination for a Mediterranean garden. The complementary colours also look great together.

Growing Lavender in pots

If you do not have enough sun, you can plant them in a terracotta pot and move them to get some extra sun. The blue and violet flowers of the lavender will be complimentary to the rich earthy colours of the terracotta.


Where is it best to plant lavender?

Lavender plants thrive in full sun and can grow well in raised garden beds and containers. They can even be used in hedges and make a great herbaceous border along a garden path.


How do you take care of a lavender plant?

  • Cut back the flowers as they finish.
  • Do not be afraid to prune twice a year with one pruning after flowering has finished.
  • Lavenders that are not pruned regularly will become spindly.
  • Replace plants that have become too woody.
  • Do not over water.
  • Very little fertiliser is required.
  • Soil must be well drained to avoid root rot.
  • Annual light application of garden lime in acidic topsoils.


Potential Diseases and Pests


Grey mould or leaf spot can appear. Prune your plants to allow good air circulation and move plants to a sunnier location in the garden. Plants can also be attacked by frog hoppers, so look for signs of frothy “cuckoo spit”.


Lavender Varieties


Varieties for essential oils

Old English Lavender (Lavandula spica) is often grown on farms for the harvesting of the fragrant essential oils. This is a tall variety that can grow to around 90 centimeters, so it will need plenty of space.


Lavendula Augustifolia (English Lavender)

Despite being known as English, this plant originates in Southern Europe near the Mediterranean. It is a bushy shrub to around one metre tall and quite wide. In mid to late summer the long unbranched stalks will produce deep or pale purple dense fragrant spikes of flowers.

English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’


Popular varieties and Colours

Lavender Farms

These plants are often grown on farms where the plants are harvested to make essential oils. Often the distillation process takes place on the farm itself. The farms are also a great tourist attraction drawing visitors to experience the aroma and the beautiful sea of purple that stretches into the distance.

Lavender farm for essential oil manufacture

Lavender farms like this one in the Cotswolds are great tourist attractions and are also used for essential oil manufacturing.


Visiting the farms

Lavendula Swiss Italian Farm is around 120 north-west of Melbourne and has over 40 Hectares of lavender farm to explore.

In the UK there is a farm just near the National Trust property of Snowshill in the Cotswolds Area on Natural Beauty, where many of these photos were taken.


Landscaping with Lavender

The hardy and versatile lavender has hundreds of uses in landscaping and garden design. As a border it can give the violet or blue design theme continuity through a landscape. When used as a border opposite a long blue swimming pool it provides visual balance to the garden.


Lavender border opposite a swimming pool

Lavender border opposite a swimming pool. The lavender provides continuity as well as visual balance.


Lavender in a herbaceous border along a path.

Lavender in a herbaceous border along a path. The lavender border looks great against the earthy tones of cottage path.


Lavender field in the monastery of Saint Paul de Mausole in France.

Lavender field in the monastery of Saint Paul de Mausole in France. Mass plantings like this always create a stunning effect.

Agricultural uses for lavender

In agriculture lavender also has a wide varieties of uses. Home gardeners can learn a few tips from these. Some varieties are grown for the cut flower industry for fresh and dried bouquets.The flowers of these plants are very high in nectar and many varieties have a long flowering season. This has made them a great plant for attracting and feeding bees. The quality and the quantity of honey produced from hives close to lavender plants is well known in the industry. Attracting bees is important too for the orchard industry. Lavender is a useful companion plant as the aroma repels some pests as well as attracting pollinating insects. The main agricultural use is essential oil manufacturing.


Essential Oil Distillation


Lavender essential oil distillation process schematic

Lavender essential oil distillation process schematic

To make the essential oil on the farm, the cuttings have steam passed through them. The steam collects the oil and takes it to the condenser. The oil steam mix condenses and is them separated into the pure oil and floral water.

Uses of the essential oil

The essential oil has a wide variety of uses including helping with sleep and anxiety. It also has been used to treat fungal infections and to repel insects. The main uses however are in the cosmetics industry where it is used in fragrances, soaps and shampoos to help purify the skin. It is also used in the food industry, but concentrated oil should never be ingested as it can be toxic in this form.


Related Landscaping Ideas from Red’s Landscaping and Civil

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Tulips In Landscape Design


5 facts about the Daffodil In Garden Design


Pinterest Pictures


© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne


Further Reading

Gardener’s World


How to distill Essential Oils


Country Life Magazine


Welcome to Provence


Cotswolds Farm 


How to propagate from cuttings.

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Exposed aggregate Concrete Pathway

9 Concrete facts for Melbourne Landscapers.

Concrete is without a doubt it is one of the most versatile used materials in landscape construction. In fact, concrete is the second most widely used substance on the planet after water. From in situ concrete walls to pavers to fence posts it has a enormous range of uses. What are the different types of concrete and its uses?  To properly decide on which mix to use, it is important to understand what it is and what factors affect its physical properties.


commercial concreting melbourne

Commercial Concreting Melbourne. Reds Landscaping Melbourne using a boom pump to pour architectural concrete walls

What is Concrete?

In technical terms, it is a structural material consisting of a hard, chemically inert particulate substance, known as aggregate that is bonded together by cement and water. It is a composite material as it consists of both a binder and a filler.

What is difference between concrete and cement?

The binder most commonly used is known as Portland Cement. This is a mixture of finely ground limestone (CaCO3) and shale or clay which has been combined together at around 1500℃. In this process, water and carbon dioxide are removed from the mixture (calcination), then calcium silicates are formed. A small amount of gypsum (CaSO4•2(H2O)) is added to regulate the setting.

Concrete with exposed aggregate.

The aggregate, that is the part of the mix made up of several smaller ingredients, will generally be the sand and gravel. The gravel itself will usually be hard stones of a certain size range. Fine aggregates are below about 10mm in size and are often used in small bags of cement mix or for smaller landscaping work. Larger stone aggregates range from 10 to 40mm in size and are commonly used in construction. It is the stone aggregates that give the mix its compressive strength. As the aggregate is around 70% of the mix, it provides much of the bulk and contributes to its dimensional stability. The rougher the surface of the aggregate and the greater the area in contact with the cement paste, the stronger a concrete will be.

River pebbles will not give your concrete the maximum compressive strength, but they do look great in exposed aggregate concrete.

Rounded particles like river pebbles or beach sand will result in lower strength than crushed aggregates. Larger size aggregates lead to relatively lower strength. Where extra strong mix is needed, a little less aggregate can be used.


Course aggregate.


A key ingredient is of course the water. When the water is combined with the cement as paste is formed which binds the aggregate together. Concrete does not harden by drying out, it hardens by a chemical reaction know as hydration. In this reaction, compounds in the cement react with water molecules to form strong chemical bonds. Ideally, the water should be as pure as possible to prevent the occurrence of any side reactions which may weaken or interfere with the chemical reaction taking place. Even small quantities of organic soil compounds result in chemical reactions that seriously affect the strength. In Melbourne access to good quality water is not usually a problem.



Concrete Mixer

Loading the Concrete Mixer the correct materials in the correct ratios is essential for making strong concrete. The water needs to be as pure as possible.

The other important point for the landscaper is to get the ratio of water to cement correct. The ratio of water to cement is critical if strong concrete is required. If too much water is added, the strength of the mix will be reduced. Excess water above what is required for the chemical reaction will result in pores on the concrete which will reduce the strength especially the tensile strength. Too little will make the it difficult to work, to fill spaces, or create a good connection to the reinforcement. Accurate measurements and thorough mixing of the cement and water will help prevent these problems.

What is it called when concrete hardens?

Concrete sets with a chemical reaction not by drying.


It is set by a chemical reaction and not by drying. This means that it will even will set under water. It is important to remember this fact during the curing stage. The two main hydration chemical reactions from the calcium silicates are as follows;
Tricalcium silicate + Water—>Calcium silicate hydrate+Calcium hydroxide + heat
2 Ca3SiO5 + 7 H2O —> 3 CaO.2SiO2.4H2O + 3 Ca(OH)2 + 173.6kJ
Dicalcium silicate + Water—>Calcium silicate hydrate + Calcium hydroxide + heat
2 Ca2SiO4 + 5 H2O—> 3 CaO.2SiO2.4H2O + Ca(OH)2 + 58.6 kJ

Exothermic reactions

Both of these reactions are exothermic, that is, they release heat. This heat will dissipate quickly in thin sections. In thicker sections, the internal temperature is transferred to the outside much more slowly. As the outer surface of the concrete will cool much more rapidly than the inner core, there can be a difference in reaction speed. This can lead to tensile stresses that can crack the surface as a result of this uncontrolled temperature difference across the cross section. For this reason, concrete should not be poured in very cold temperatures. In cases where thermal cracking does occur, it will be at early ages of curing. The heat can also cause moisture to evaporate from the surface of the concrete, making it weaker. This will be the case if there is insufficient water for the chemical reaction. For these reason excessively thick sections should be avoided in a single pour. Wooden formwork and damp hessian covers can help the curing process. Giving your concrete a very light spray of water as it is curing will often improve the strength.


What is the correct mix for concrete?

When mixing concrete for footings or foundations use a mix of 3 parts coarse or sharp sand and 3 parts aggregate with 1 part of a high quality cement.

History of concrete

What have the Romans ever done for us? The Romans are widely credited for the spread of building technologies including concrete throughout Europe. It was the Roman’ Empires’s engineering abilities that enabled them to built an enormous empire throughout Europe and through parts of North Africa and the Middle East. The concrete architecture of the Romans is famous amongst fans of history.

Durable Roman Concrete has lasted centuries.

The Roman  formula for quality concrete

It was know to the Romans as “opus caementicium”. Opus meaning a fortification, composition or a piece of work and caementicium meaning quarried or unhewn stone. The Romans developed their recipe in the third century BC. The ingredient the Romans used was volcanic dust known as pozzolana. This volcanic dust included fine particles of alumina and silica which created the chemical reaction enabling the setting. To this they added a mixture of lime or gypsum, brick or rock pieces and water. Usually the mix was a ratio of 1 part of lime for 3 parts of volcanic ash.

Concrete Pantheon Rome

The Pantheon in Rome was constructed entirely in concrete.



Concrete Dome of the Pantheon in Rome.

Concrete Dome of the Pantheon in Rome.

Roman Waterproof Concrete

Roman builders discovered that adding crushed terracotta to the mortar created a waterproof material which could be then be used with cisterns and other constructions exposed to rain or water. Recently, it has been found that the Roman mix used in seawall construction has better endurance to seawater than the modern stuff. This was mostly due to one of the minerals of the volcanic rock phillipsite, reacting with the seawater to form aluminous tobermorite which reinforced the concrete over time. After the fall of the Roman empire the technology for making concrete was lost for many years.


Assyrians Babylonians and Egyptians.

Among the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians, clay was often used as the bonding material. The Egyptians developed a substance more closely resembling modern concrete by using lime and gypsum as binders. Lime (calcium oxide), was derived from limestone, chalk, or (where available) oyster shells. (Pozzolans are actually a broad class of siliceous or siliceous and aluminous materials.)

Portland cement

In 1824 an English inventor, Joseph Aspdin, burned and ground together a mixture of limestone and clay. As the chemistry of concrete was not fully understood at the time, the proportions of the ingredients were developed by trial and error. This mixture, called Portland cement, has remained the dominant cementing agent used in concrete production. It is named Portland cement as it is an attempt to imitate the limestone from Portland in Dorset on the jurassic coast of England. Portland Limestone formed slowly over the last 150 million years or so as tiny grains of sediments and clays infused the limestone grew and compacted. This gives it both its unique physical properties when grown up for cement, but also its attractive appearance. Portland Limestone has been used in many of the iconic London buildings such as Saint Paul’s Cathedral and the palace of Westminster. As a building material Portland Limestone was popularised by architect Sir Christopher Wren.

Reinforced Concrete.

One of the drawbacks of concrete, despite its great compressive strength, is its lack of tensile strength. This is largely due to its natural porosity. Plain unreinforced concrete does not easily withstand stresses such as wind action, earthquakes, and vibrations and other bending forces and is therefore unsuitable in many structural applications. Low tensile strength also means low strength in bending or when used as a beam.

The Strength of Steel

Steel when compared with concrete has great tensile strength. The solution is to embed the steel into the concrete. This is usually achieved with the use of steel mesh reinforcement. The reinforcing steel, normally takes the form of rods, bars, or mesh. The reinforcement bars are often coined along the surface to give them a good connection to the concrete. The addition of tightly bound reinforcement bars makes the concrete section into a true composite beam. For this reason, the reinforcements must have good overlap.

commercial concreting melbourne. Concrete retaining wall footings.

Commercial Concreting Melbourne. Concrete retaining wall footings with steel reinforcement.



Joseph Monier

Reinforced concrete is usually attributed to Joseph Monier, a Parisian gardener who made garden pots and tubs of concrete reinforced with iron mesh.This was patented in 1867. In reinforced concrete, the tensile strength of steel and the compressional strength of concrete render a member capable of sustaining heavy stresses of all kinds over considerable spans. Despite the strength of reinforced concrete, efforts should be make to minimise the loads on garden retains walls. This can be achieved by adequate agricultural drainage near the wall. It is important to remember that a cubic metre of water weighs a tonne. Plant selection near the retaining wall is also important plants should be chosen that do not have an invasive root system. For your existing trees, consider the use of a tree root barrier.

Common Problems with Concrete

Concrete Cancer

If the steel reinforcement inside the concrete becomes exposed to water and air, weak carbonic acid can form. This can cause the steel reinforcement to form iron oxide or rust. The Iron oxide, Fe2O3, has a higher volume than the original steel. The expansion of the reinforcement can cause the concrete to crack leading to even more water ingress and rust.

Concrete cancer Elwood Victoria

Pre-cast concrete wheel stop buffers Elwood Victoria. As the steel reinforcement rusts it expands allowing more water in. Melbourne bayside suburbs like Elwood are particularly susceptible.


When designing or constructing concrete structures, the reinforcement bars need to be located away from anywhere water can accumulate. This includes the counter bores for fasteners. In Melbourne bayside suburbs like Elwood, salt water can accumulate in counterbores and seep through to the reinforcement via the concretes natural porosity, or through microcracks.


concrete cancer in a precast buffer

Concrete cancer in a precast car park buffer. Reinforced concrete should be designed and constructed so that the steel reinforcement is not too close to areas where water can accumulate.


Commercial landscaped gardens , or pebble ballast roofs, on flat concrete are particularly susceptible to cancer. For these reasons, it is essential that the roof is properly waterproofed and rooftop garden beds have adequate drainage.


Concrete cancer in a footpath crossover.

Concrete cancer is a likely cause of this failure in a pedestrian crossover. Note how close the steel reinforcement has been placed to the top surface allowing pooled water to seep through to the steel reinforcement.. An early indicator of this failure are the grid pattern of cracks in the concrete surface.


Understanding the nature of the materials used in residential or commercial landscaping is key to creating a quality Melbourne landscaping solution that can be enjoyed for years to come.

Related Landscaping information from Red’s Landscaping and Civil

Concreting Melbourne


Retaining Walls




Exposed Aggregate


© 2020 Reds Landscaping and Civil quality commercial landscaping Melbourne


For more information on hardscaping


How to minimise thermal cracking


How it is made and the scientific principles.


The Pantheon in Rome


Cement Australia


The second most widely used substance on the planet.


Boral Australia


Cancer and how to fix it

Read more
Lancelot Capability Brown Landscaping at Compton Verney.

11 Best landscapers of all time.

Landscaping is a word that is often used but can mean different things to different people. If we study the history of landscaping we can learn how these different interpretations of landscaping came about. Historically, architecture and landscaping are concepts that are very much intertwined, as are sculpture art and painting. Why is there confusion over the word landscaping?  Who were the most influential landscapers of all time and what influenced them? To find out we look at the history of landscaping and landscape design, but first a few modern definitions.

What are the different types of landscaping?

The broad term Landscaping can refer to any of the following disciplines.

  1. Soft Landscaping.
  2. Hard Landscaping.
  3. Garden Maintenance.
  4. Landscape Design.
  5. Landscape Architecture.

Soft Landscaping

Soft landscapers are usually qualified horticulturists. They are skilled in areas of plant health and plant cultivation. Horticulturists are also trained in design and other aspects of landscaping construction.

Hard Landscaping.

Hard Landscaping as the name suggests is related to installation of the structural elements of the landscape design. Examples of these are exposed aggregate concrete paths, insitu concrete retaining walls and pergolas.

Garden Maintenance

Garden maintenance is often referred to as landscaping.

Landscape Design

Landscape design usually involves the use of CAD to layout both the hard landscaping and the soft landscaping designs. Modern landscape design also involves creating photorealist computer renderings to help the customer visualise the finished design. The use of 3D CAD is now a common part of the landscape design process. Sometimes this service is provided as a landscape design only service. The final outcome is usually better when it is a product of landscape by design rather than just moving materials around the worksite to achieve the desired look.

Landscape Architecture

Landscape architects study at university to learn the theoretical skills required to design public spaces using CAD.  Landscape architecture encompasses the knowledge of the physical materials, living systems and human factors. Landscape architects have both plant knowledge and strength of materials knowledge to design an effective public space by CAD. Landscape architecture also includes the environmental planning, urban design, and site planning for a landscaped site. The understanding of the main concepts of civil engineering is vital for this role. Even in the 18 century landscapes were made to detailed drawings by landscape architects like Lancelot Capability Brown and Humphry Repton.

The history of landscaping

The Egyptians

The earliest surviving detailed garden design plan dates from circa 1400 BC. It is surprising how much of this design style is still in use in modern Mediterranean garden design. The garden was for a highly ranked official in the Egyptian Court at Thebes. The home had a main entrance with a pergola with vines growing. The garden design also included self-contained walled enclosure, rectangular water features and garden paths with tree lined avenues.


The Persians, Babylonians and Assyrians

These gardens are described in the old testament as pleasure gardens. The gardens were designed to enable cool water and shade to be enjoyed in private.  The landscaping also included man made hills with terraces planted with shrubs and trees.

Greek Gardens of the Classical Period

Sport and public places were both big parts of Greek culture. Sports grounds developed into the academy and the lyceum and people gathered in these places.  The public spaces in Greek life included groves of shade trees which is essential in a Mediterranean garden. Also included were some porticoes, spectator seating and the exercise ground itself. It was around this time that a courtyard garden design with rows of columns supporting roofs over covered walkway became part of the urban lifestyle. This garden design became known as “peristyle” from the Greek word “peri” meaning around (as in perimeter) and “style” which means column. It is thought that this style of architecture originated in temples like the Temple of Hera at Samos and was then adopted for domestic buildings.

Greek Gardens of the Hellenistic Period

The death of Alexander the great was the start of a new age in Greece where the country was less Athens centric. New luxurious gardens or pleasure grounds had sprung in the Greek colonies. Notable amongst these were the gardens at Syracuse and Alexandria. These gardens were more influenced by gardens in the east. Under Alexander the great Macedonia had formed a huge empire stretching from Macedonia to parts of India. Within the empire the spread of people brought architecture and landscaping to different cities. After the death of Alexander, the empire was divided, and the various kings spent money on gardens and architecture to impress their guests.

What have the Romans ever done for landscaping?

Many of the southern cities of the Italian peninsula were founded as Greek Colonies. The area was known to the Romans as Magna Graecia and to the Greeks as Megale Hellas meaning “Great Greece”. Starting with Naples in 327 BC all of the Greek cities in Magna Graecia were absorbed into the Roman Empire. The Romans adopted the Greek peristyle landscaping with small enclosed town gardens and with Roman villa gardens. Some examples still exist in the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum which were previously very much Greek cities. An example of the adoption of this style can be seen in the Villa Adriana which is Hadrian’s grand villa near Tivoli. Another example is Nero’s Golden House in Rome. As Christianity began to spread through Europe in the later part of the Roman Empire, the peristyle courtyard garden evolved into the cloistered abbey garden and courtyard.

Roman Landscaping. Villa Adriana near Tivoli Italy

Roman Landscaping. Villa Adriana near Tivoli Italy

Roman Concrete

One of the reasons that some of the Roman building can still be seen today is the Roman use of concrete in building construction. Unlike bricks or stone construction, the concrete buildings are difficult to recycle into newer buildings. For this reason many of the buildings of ancient Rome were just left in situ with some of the concrete crumbling or becoming submerged by the increasing ground level.

Concrete Pantheon Rome

The Pantheon in Rome was constructed entirely in concrete.

Roman concrete was made more durable by the addition of volcanic ash. This has meant that many Roman buildings have survived into modern times and the became an inspiration for architects and landscapers on the Grand Tour, They were also an inspiration for High Renaissance architects. One architect that was greatly inspired by this building was a goldsmith named Filippo Brunelleschi who built the dome for the Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore in Florence, Italy. Brunelleschi had spent several years in Rome studying and sketching the ancient monuments.

 Roman Heated Swimming Pools

The engineering abilities of the Romans extended to more than temples, villas  roads and aqueducts. The Romans also invented the heated swimming pool. It was built by Gaius Maecenas in the first century BC near Rome.

Islamic Landscaping

Islamic gardens or Paradise Gardens are well known for their water features. Water was precious to the desert dwelling Arabs of North Africa who we part of an empire that stretched all the way to India. Their garden designs were greatly influenced by Persian gardens. Symbology was important in these gardens with the gardens divided into 4 sections by mini canals each representing a different aspect of life. These are known as quadripartite or Charbagh and the canals represent four rivers running with water, milk, wine and honey.

Paradise Gardens

The word paradise comes from the old Persian language pairi dez and means enclosed or surrounded by a wall. An outer perimeter wall or an enclosure of buildings is often a feature of these gardens. When Spain was captured the Moors, “paradise garden” became a common garden theme in the wealthy homes and public spaces of southern Spain. Therefore many of the gardens in southern Spain have the theme of four rivers and the garden divided into four parts. To create the illusion of depth in the shallow canals, dark blue tiles are used as a lining of the canal.

The Patio of the Lions. Islamic Landscaping. Paradise Gardens at the Alhambra in Spain.

Islamic Landscaping. Paradise Gardens at the Alhambra in Spain. The Patio of the Lions.


Another part of the symbology is the square ponds representing earth and the round fountains representing heaven. These were combined to represent the meeting of heaven and earth. The colonnade courtyards surrounding the gardens also had symbology in the surrounding columns with designs showing date palms. Some examples of this type of Islamic landscape architecture include the Alhambra in Granada.

The Island of Sicily

The Islamic influence also spread to another colony in the Mediterranean. The island of Sicily had parks built by the Saracens using the Islamic garden themes. When the Normans conquered the island in the 11th century, they maintained the gardens much as they were with walled enclosures containing canals, lakes and citrus groves. It was not just the gardens which came into the Norman hands, there was also a wealth of knowledge recorded in Arabic and Greek texts.  This transfer of knowledge in the fields of mathematics, science, astronomy and medicine, which occurred in Spain, Sicily and the Levant, helped to spark the 12th century renaissance. One enduring legacy of the Islamic garden is the garden patio.


Italian Renaissance Gardens

Donato Bramante

The Italian garden renaissance began in the 15th century near Florence. Medieval enclosures that were earlier necessary for defence began to open up into a system of villas with a coherent house and gardens. In Rome, the design of Italian renaissance gardens on the hillsides became the role of architects. Famous renaissance architect, Donato Bramante, designed a significant garden linking the Papal palace with the Villa Belvedere. The villa had been built by the previous pope as a place to catch summer breezes during the hot summer in Rome. Bramante had studied painting prior to studying architecture and was skilled in the use of perspective. The hard landscaping for this design incorporated a system of stairways and garden stairways and was named Belvedere meaning beautiful view. The Belvedere garden also revived the Roman tradition of adorning the garden with ancient statues. Bramante is probably better known as the architect who designed St Peter’s Basilica in Rome we see today and for his disagreements with sculptor Michelangelo. To finance the building of St Peter’s, the church began to sell papal indulgences which in turn lead to the Reformation and years of war and religious persecution in Europe.

Vatican Gardens in Vatican City. Donato Bramante was divided into three new courtyards: the Cortile del Belvedere, the Library Courtyard and the Cortile della Pigna with the landscape design of the Renaissance.

Vatican Gardens in Vatican City. Donato Bramante divided this area into three new courtyards: the Cortile del Belvedere, the Library Courtyard and the Cortile della Pigna with the landscape design of the Renaissance.

Bramante was really a central figure in High Renaissance Architecture. This style of architecture is characterised by its use of proportion and symmetry and most notably for the influence through the study of antiquity. Bramante’s work that first ushered in the High Renaissance was the Tempietto which is designed as a circular temple inspired by the remains of the ancient Temple Vesta.

Il tempietto is an example of Bramante's High Renaissance architecture.

Il tempietto is an example of Bramante’s High Renaissance architecture.

Andrea Palladio

Another influential architect of the High Renaissance was Andrea Palladio, who was chief architect of the Republic of Venice. Palladio was greatly inspired by the architecture of Greece and ancient Rome. His teachings in I quattro libri dell’architettura (The Four Books of Architecture) extended his influence to most of Europe and covered everything from materials to Town Planning.  William Kent, the British architect and landscaper was heavily influence by Palladio’s books.

Villa La Rotonda near Vicenza by Palladio. The symmetrical design has 4 facades.

Villa La Rotonda near Vicenza by Palladio. The symmetrical design has 4 facades.

Palladio’s Rural Villas

Palladio’s design of rural villas for the Venetian nobility with a strong centre and symmetrical side wings became the design theme for Italian villas and for the country estates of the British nobility. This style of architecture which strongly adheres to the principles of classical Roman architecture, became known as Palladian Architecture.

Villa La Rotonda near Vicenza by Palladio. The symmetrical design has 4 facades. The symmetrical design has 4 facades.

The landscaped gardens of Villa La Rotonda.


Rome and the gardens of the Cardinals

Between 1550 and 1600 there was a huge increase in garden construction in and around Rome. The most powerful people in Rome at that time were the cardinals, who each though of themselves as a potential pope. The pope was one of the most influential persons throughout Europe.

New popes were chosen for their culture, influential and wealth. The way to demonstrate this to the other cardinals was to create an inspiring and remarkable garden. Geometry, order and harmony were key features of these garden designs. The aim was to demonstrate the influence and cultured sophistication, not just of the cardinal but of the cardinal’s family dynasty.

Symbology in Renaissance Gardens

Symbology, such as family crests, and control of water flow was nearly as important as the aesthetic beauty. The cardinals employed the best architects in an attempt to outdo each other and to increase their influence.

Symbology in renaissance gardens including rare garden bulbs were part of these gardens during the renaissance period, but this is less noticeable today. Jasmines, crocuses, lilies, box topiary but these became overgrown when this style of garden was out of fashion. The shortness of the flowering seasons for the flowers that were available then, meant that flower beds could not be relied upon to be the principle garden feature. Trimmed herbs, box, lavender and rosemary were used to divide garden beds into geometric compartments.  Decorative contrast was given to stonework and brick walls with the use of ivy. Laurel, cypress pine and ilex.

The Canopus. The ruins of Hadrian's Villa near Tivoli has influenced landscapers and architects for centuries.

The Canopus. The ruins of Hadrian’s Villa near Tivoli has influenced landscapers and architects for centuries. The Pool is a metaphor of the Mediterranean.


Hadrian’s Tivoli Villa Adrianna the inspiration for Renaissance gardens

Outside Rome, the ruins of Hadrian’s Tivoli Villa Adrianna was an inspiration that lit the spark for renaissance gardens.  Hadrian travelled more than any other emperor and was inspired by gardens throughout the Roman empire,

The Canopus with its columns was visited by the renaissance architects visited to discover how to create water flows into pools. They also learnt about how an aqueduct carried water and the design ratios and the use of symbolism within the garden. The garden is a metaphor for the Roman empire with Greece represented by the row of caryatids on the right. These statues are replicas of the statues forming the Porch of the maidens in the Erechtheum in Athens. A statue of a crocodile represents Egypt.

Villa d’Esti in Tivoli

Nearby in Tivoli the garden Cardinal Desti created a garden with fantastic use of water. Villa d’Esti.

Landscaping with Water features. Aerial view of the iconic Villa d'Este in Tivoli, Italy

Landscaping with Water features. Aerial view of the iconic Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Italy

Pirro Ligorio created these incredible water features by taking a third of the town’s water supply. The use of water in this garden is astonishing and is achieved without using any pumps. Symbology and coded messages are embedded throughout this garden . Within this garden, Ligorio created a model Rome in his palace garden complete with a statue of Romulus and Remus. The dramatic and theatrical were now starting to replace the peace and harmony of earlier gardens. Surprise and delight were not the aims of renaissance architecture. Power culture and wealth were demonstrated by the creation of gardens that are really in your face.

The French Gardens of the 17th Century.

Once again it was conflict and invasions that drove the interchange of cultures. This time it was the French who invaded Italy towards the end of the 17th Century that were influence by the gardens of the conquered. The Italian wars 1494 1559 were a series of violent wars that had a massive impact on Renaissance Europe. These wars were fought largely by Spain and France, but there were other armies involved. In 1494 French king Charles VIII invaded Italy, which triggered the wars.  After 64 years of sporadic fighting the French just managed to hold the fortresses at five Italian cities.  An early example of the Italian influence on French gardens and architecture was the Château of Anet in the Loire valley (Département of Eure-et-Loire). Little remains of this building as it was mostly destroyed after the French Revolution, but it was used in the filming of the James Bond movie Thunderball.

French Baroque Gardens

The baroque gardens of the French were based on the Italian renaissance gardens, but were flashier and with even more emphasis on complex geometry.  French landscape architect André Le Nôtre later designed a garden at the château Vaux-le-Vicomte south west of Paris. The garden is regarded as an early example of the baroque French classical style.

Vaux-le-Vicomte Baroque Renaissance Landscaping.

Vaux-le-Vicomte Baroque Renaissance Landscaping.

The Garden that left a deep impression on the King

The château and gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte were so impressive that King Louis XIV confiscated the house and threw the owner in jail. Le Nôtre then went to work for the king and went on to work on the design of the gardens at Versailles. Some of the other notable landscape designs include Sceaux, Saint-Cloud, and Chantilly. Fontainebleau, Tuileries and the Grand Trianon. In his art collection André Le Nôtre had a sculpture by Michelangelo, so there is a good chance he was a fan of the Italian renaissance. On both Versailles and the château Vaux-le-Vicomte he had worked with painter and designer Charles Le Brun who had design the classic statues for Versailles. Charles Le Brun had spent several years in Italy as part of his artistic development.

Dutch Gardens of the 17th Century

The conflict sparked by the reaction to the reformation lead to the arrival of Protestant refugees into the Dutch republic. The arrival of skilled craftsmen from other parts of Europe helped to start the Dutch Golden Age. In 1685 King Louis XIV made Protestantism illegal in France which lead to a further 200,000 Huguenots fleeing France. Amongst these refugees was Daniel Marot from Paris. He was a skilled designer, engraver and architect and soon found himself working at the Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn.

Het Loo Dutch baroque gardens.

Het Loo Dutch baroque gardens.

Het Loo was owned by Willem Hendrik Prince of Orange who through his marriage to Mary Stuart later became King William III of England, Ireland and Scotland. The design of Het Loo was inspired by the work of Charles le Brun and Jean Bérain at Versailles. When Prince Willem Hendrik became King William III, he took Daniel Marot with him to London and appointed him as a court architect and Master of Works.


English Baroque Gardens

Charles II spent most of his exile at the palace of Versailles south of Paris. His long stay there would have influenced his choices after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.  In the short time Charles II was King, he helped to revive English tradesmen’s skill as put into place new measures aimed at the preservation of excellence in the arts.

French and Dutch influences in English Landscaping

Charles and his architects introduced French and Dutch influences in an attempt to produce new architectural order to England. It was during this time that architect Christopher Wren spent a long time in Paris to learn from the achievements of modern French Architects. During his time in Paris, Wren met with Italian sculptor and architect Gianlorenzo Bernini, who was the leading sculptor in the baroque style. Bernini was in Paris to complete the palace of the Louve. Wren also met with Francois Mansart, who introduced Italian classicism into baroque architecture. Mansart’s architectural designs, where he integrated the landscape and the building in harmony were an influence on garden designer André Le Nôtre.  Wren’s trip to Paris and meeting with the great architects of the day were to have a profound influence on his later architecture.  This can be seen in the design of St Paul’s in London with a renaissance style large central cupola.

St Paul's in London. Large central cupola by Christopher Wren.

St Paul’s in London. Large central cupola by Christopher Wren.

William and Mary Gardens

After the Glorious Revolution William and Mary ascended to the throne of England. They brought with them to England skilled craftsmen and architects from the Dutch Republic and Europe.  The furniture from this period is known as “William and Mary” style.   Many of the finest buildings in England were commissioned during this time. These include Greenwich Hospital, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace.


Hampton Court Palace gardens

Hampton Court Palace gardens

Wren was commissioned to remodel and extend Hampton Court Palace with a new courtyard and apartments for the King and Queen. The great fountain garden was created by architect Daniel Marot, who had been brought over from Het Loo.

English Formal Gardens

There are many English gardens of this style that are open to the public. The photographs below are just a few of what is on offer.

English Formal Garden at Cliveden.

English Formal Garden at Cliveden. This garden shows the influence of earlier renaissance style.


Formal Garden at Waddesdon.

Formal Garden at Waddesdon in Buckinghamshire.


Italianate Garden Blenheim Palace.

Italianate Garden Blenheim Palace Oxfordshire.


Formal Landscaping. The Italian garden at Blenheim Palace.

Formal Landscaping. The Italian garden at Blenheim Palace.


English Formal Garden Hanbury Hall near Droitwich

Restored English Formal Garden Hanbury Hall near Droitwich

Landscaping Georgian English gardens

The Georgian era was one of great change in Europe and in England in particular. The huge growth in international trade and the emergence of middle-class wealth were chief amongst these. This led to more people wanting lavish landscaped gardens and the rise of the Grand Tour as a sort of gap-year for mostly young wealthy men. Starting in Dover, the Grand Tour would set out for Italy often via Paris. The trips could be as long as 3 or 4 years and the main destinations were the great Italian cities of the renaissance as well as the excavations of the Roman civilisation at Pompeii and Herculaneum. The influence of the Grand Tour on the young aristocrats of Britain often left them with architectural tastes for Neoclassical, based on the remains of ancient temples or Palladian base on Palladio’s interpretation of a Roman villa construction.

Neoclassical Architecture

The taste for Neoclassical architecture that was brought from the grand tour was a hit for public buildings all around the world and the influence lasted for many years. Many well-known buildings in Melbourne were designed in this style including the Victorian State Parliament house in Spring Street East Melbourne. Some other great examples of this architectural style include The State Library of Victoria in the Melbourne CBD and the Shrine of Remembrance in King’s Domain close to South Yarra. Other noteworthy Melbourne Buildings in the neoclassical style include;

  • Eldon Mansion in Grey Street St Kilda,
  • Richmond Town Hall in Bridge Road Richmond
  • St Kilda Town Hall on the corner of Carlisle St and Brighton Road, St Kilda
  • Port Melbourne Town Hall in Bay Street Port Melbourne
  • Fitzroy Town Hall in Napier Street Fitzroy

In addition to the public buildings there are some Neoclassical or Palladian style homes in the Melbourne Suburbs of Toorak and Brighton.

St. Kilda Town Hall neoclassical architecture.

St. Kilda Town Hall neoclassical architecture.


Neoclassical Victorian State Parliament house in Spring Street East Melbourne

Neoclassical Victorian State Parliament house in Spring Street East Melbourne.

Willian Kent

Chief amongst the early Georgian Architects was William Kent. Kent is credited with introducing the architecture of Italian Architect Andrea Palladio into Britain.  The naturalist landscaping style with serpentine lakes in place of straight canals was a hallmark of Kent’s landscaping. Kent had spent 10 years in Rome copying the paintings of the old masters and developing the skills of engraving and etching. Whilst in Italy Kent met the Third Earl of Burlington, Richard Boyle. It was Lord Burlington who gave Kent a series of commissions in Britain that kick-started Kent’s career as an architect and landscaper. Kent’s experience in Italy helped him to tap into the market for architecture amongst aristocrats nostalgic over their time on the Grand Tour.


Landscape Design of William Kent

Kent was a pioneer of the English naturalistic landscaping that began in the early Georgian period.  Landscaping became more naturalistic. Instead of the formal rococo or baroque  gardens of the French and Dutch, we see vistas that have been carefully crafted to take your eye to a picturesque garden focal point or building. Kent’s garden focal points included garden follies such as artificial ruins, grottoes, pagodas and temples.  Stowe in Buckinghamshire has some great example of the work of William Kent.

Landscaping at Stowe in Buckinghamshire.

Landscaping at Stowe in Buckinghamshire.


Amongst Kent’s focal points are the hermitage, the temple of Venus, the Elysian fields, the Temple of British Worthies and the Temple of Ancient Virtue.

William Kent Landscaping. The Temple of Ancient Virtues.

William Kent Landscaping. The Temple of Ancient Virtues.


William Kent Landscaping. Elysian fields with the Temple of British Worthies.

William Kent Landscaping. Elysian fields with the Temple of British Worthies. Stowe




Kent at Rousham Park

Another example of Kent’s work can be seen at Rousham Park, where the garden has become a place of pilgrimage for fans of the landscaping of William Kent. One of the landscaping design features used by landscapers of this era was the ha-ha or sunken fence.

Landscaping with a Ha-Ha.

Landscaping with a Ha-Ha. This design feature enabled a view of the landscape without an obvious fence. Rousham Park Oxfordshire.

With the Ha-Ha landscaping design feature the landscaper could separate the landscaped grounds of the estate from the areas where the farm animals grazed without a fence interrupting the view. The Ha-ha was also used by landscaping genius Lancelot “Capability” Brown.

Landscaping of William Kent - Rousham Gardens

Landscaping of William Kent – Rousham Gardens



Praeneste by Landscaper William Kent

Praeneste by Landscaper William Kent at Rousham Gardens.


Praeneste Rousham

Praeneste at Rousham



Octagon Pool Rousham

Octagon Pool Rousham Park.


Temple of Echo by William Kent and William Townsend

Temple of Echo by William Kent and William Townsend. Neoclassical Architecture.



Lancelot “Capability” Brown the greatest Landscaper of all time.

Lancelot Brown is probably the most famous landscape designer in English History and is widely known as England’s greatest gardener. He is also known as the father of Landscape Design. In his younger years he worked on some projects to drain some of the Fens and it is widely believed that this is where he developed his knowledge of hydrology and how to apply it to landscaped design.

Landscaping. The lake at Blenheim Palace enlarged by Capability Brown.

Landscaping. The lake at Blenheim Palace enlarged and lined with clay by Capability Brown.


Blenheim Palace Lake. The landscaping of Capability Brown.

Blenheim Palace Lake. The landscaping of Capability Brown.


Capability Brown Landscaping at Blenheim Palace

Capability Brown Landscaping at Blenheim Palace. The lake was made much larger by Capability Brown.

When it comes to the design of water features such as lakes, streams and ponds, Capability Brown was a genius. It is hard to imagine how the shear volume of work being undertaken by Brown was achieved in a time when not everybody was literate. In a time before the railways, Brown criss-crossed the country to supervise his huge landscaping projects.

The Cascades at Blenheim Palace look natural, but much of the landscaping is manmade.

The Cascades at Blenheim Palace look natural, but much of the landscaping is manmade.


Over 250 landscapes have been attributed to Capability Brown and his list of clients include the King, the Prime Minister and several members of the House of Lords. Landscapers like Kent and Brown were the “Rock Stars” of their era. Their well connected list of contacts ensured they were in prime position for the high end landscaping projects.

Brown’s English landscapes totalled around 52,000 Hectares. To put this in perspective, it would be like landscaping the whole area of Toorak 120 times without any machinery.

Landscaping on a Grand Scale

Brown’s landscaping included moving villages or churches, manually digging lakes and moving large trees to different locations. Like Kent, his landscaping style was towards naturalistic landscapes with views of buildings or focal points framed by trees. The landscape was designed to reveal a view of the main home only when it was close enough to give it the “wow” factor.

As with William Kent, Brown worked on the landscaped gardens at Stowe. Brown also manage a stint as Royal Gardener to King George III at Hampton Court Palace, but it is for his achievements at gardens like Blenheim Palace that he is best known.

During Brown’s first years as a gardener at Stowe, he was involved in many of the landscape construction projects on the estate. This gave the young Lancelot Brown the opportunity to learn more about landscaping and constructions. There is little doubt that he was heavily influenced by the landscaping work of William Kent and perhaps to a lesser extent by the architecture of James Gibbs.

Palladian style Bridge at StoweStowe

The Palladian Style Bridge at Stowe in Buckinghamshire. Stowe is a great example of an 18th Century English Landscape Garden. The Palladian Bridge was constructed during Brown’s time at Stowe.

Early in his time at Stowe, Brown was involved in the construction of a gothic church folly designed by James Gibbs. Brown later designed a gothic church for the landscape at Croome which bears some similarities to the James Gibbs design.

Gothic Temple at Stowe by James Gibbs

A garden folly Gothic Temple at Stowe by James Gibbs. The temple constructed during the time of Capability Brown is now available as accommodation.

Croome Court Home and Landscaping

After leaving Stowe, Brown had a major landscaping project at Croome Court. Croome Court is around 12 km east of Great Malvern and upstream from the confluence of the rivers Severn Avon. This area, just north of Tewksbury, known for its flooding and Marshy land, so Capability Brown was the right landscaper for the job. The project involved a redesign of both the house and Landscape. The house was redesigned by Browne in the Palladian style and the marshy landscape cleverly drained into an artificial serpentine river. This was a landscaping project where Capability Brown was able to use his drainage skills learnt in the fens of East Anglia.

The landscaping at Croome now looks entirely natural but it is in fact totally man made.


Croome Court home designed by Capability Brown.

Croome Court home designed by Capability Brown.

On a small hill on the property, Brown designed a classical rotunda as a place from where the landscape could be admired.


Classical Rotunda at Croome by Capability Brown.

Classical Rotunda at Croome by Capability Brown.

The Lake at Croome Court took hundreds of men more than 10 years to complete by hand.

Home, Bridge and Lake at Croome Court

Home, Bridge and Lake at Croome Court.



Artificial River at Croome by Landscaper Capability Brown.

Artificial serpentine “River” at Croome by Landscaper Capability Brown.

The lake constructed by Brown looks like a natural river. It winds through the parkland for a distance of just under 3 kilometres with the end just out of sight around a bend. This helps create the illusion of a river.




The lake at Croome by Capability Brown.

The lake at Croome by Capability Brown.

There are more than 18 drainage culverts built by Brown as part of the landscaping. Most of these are brick lined and still function as a drain to remove water from the land and channel it to the lake.

Drainage Culverts

In places where the drainage culverts have been damaged by modern farm machinery the National Trust has left drainage grates over the openings. This gives us a glimpse of the drainage work that was done.


Flowing water and the brick lining of the drainage culvert can be seen through the grates.

Flowing water and the brick lining of the drainage culvert can be seen through the drain grates.


Capability Brown created a gothic church on some high land in the park. There are great views of the estate from this position.

The Gothic Church at Croome by Capability Brown.

The Gothic Church at Croome by Capability Brown.


Church Interior Croome

Church Interior Croome

Tree Planting

One of Browns lasting legacies was the the massive tree plantings on his landscaping projects. Some of his landscapes were second only to  Kew Gardens for biodiversity. The full impact of Brown’s landscaping prowess would not have been apparent for generations after the initial construction. The Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) is a member of the Pinaceae family and is regarded as one of Brown’s signature trees.  It is now often seen in many British Grand Estates including Brown’s landscaping at Compton Verney.

Capability Brown at Compton Verney

The upper bridge over the lake may have been designed by architect John Adam, but it was constructed during Brown’s time at Copton Verney.

Lancelot Capability Brown Landscaping at Compton Verney.

Lancelot Capability Brown Landscaping at Compton Verney.


Landscaped Home and Lake at Compton Verney.

Landscaped home and Lake at Compton Verney.


Landscaped Hill and Lake at Compton Verney.

The Landscaped Hill and Lake at Compton Verney.


A view of the lake through the trees.

A view of the lake through the trees.

Palladian Style Chapel by Capability Brown


Humphry Repton

Repton was a landscaper in the same style as Capability Brown and saw himself as the successor to Brown. He was able to design landscapes with the naturalistic appearance of Brown, but with landscaping of the “Picturesque” added to the mix. Amongst Repton’s famous works is Sheringham Park in Norfolk. Repton invented the term “Landscape Gardener” and was known for showing his landscape clients illustrated before and after views in his landscaping “Red Book”. Repton’s first commission was for a landscape at Catton Hall north of Norwich. This landscape included a gothic cottage with a thatched roof.

Lord Berwick at Attingham

In 1797 Lord Berwick commissioned Landscape Gardener Humphry Repton to make improvements to the landscaping of his property Attingham near Shrewsbury. Repton’s landscape designs were illustrated in his “Red Book”  which was presented to Lord Berwick for his library.

Landscape Design Only

In contrast to Capability Brown, Repton’s services were provided as landscape design only and he did not oversee the construction of his landscape designs. Repton’s landscape designs were handed to the client as his famous Red Book. In this book, Repton pioneered the “before and after” landscape design concept that many landscaper designers use today.

A view of the home of the Second Lord Berwick from the bridge on the River Tern.

A view of the home of the Second Lord Berwick from the bridge on the River Tern.


The Second Lord Berwick's estate at Attingham. Cedar of Lebanon was par of Repton's design.

The Second Lord Berwick’s estate at Attingham. Cedar of Lebanon was part of Repton’s design


Naturalistic Landscaping. Beautiful colours and textures of the trees planted in the distance.

Naturalistic Landscaping. Beautiful colours and textures of the trees planted in the distance


Naturalistic tree planting by the bank of the River Tern.

Naturalistic tree planting by the bank of the River Tern.



Humpry Repton at Stoneleigh Abbey



Landscape Design by Humphry Repton at Stoneleigh Abbey

Landscape Design by Humphry Repton at Stoneleigh Abbey. Repton’s design was to divert part of the River Avon so that it ran closer to the home and created a beautiful refection.


The landscaping vision of Humphry Repton. Stoneleigh Abbey reflected in the River Avon.

The landscaping vision of Humphry Repton. Stoneleigh Abbey reflected in the River Avon.


River Avon at Stoneleigh. Landscape by Humphry Repton

River Avon at Stoneleigh with the landscape beyond. Landscape design by Humphry Repton


A view through the landscape to the River Avon

A view through the landscape to the River Avon




Some properties like Chastleton House in Oxfordshire have been attributed to Repton and is listed by the Nation Trust as a possible Repton Landscape.

To be continued…..


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5 Screening Plants for Garden Privacy


Concrete 9 things you need to know


Concrete Architecture in Landscaping


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Hedge designs for landscaping

Creating a hedge and tree pruning are gardening techniques which can be used to great effect in any virtually any size of garden. These techniques can be used to control and direct the size, shape and direction of plant growth. When combined with plant supports, such as trellises and other plants, an interesting garden effect can be created. Of course, pruning is also used to encourage fruit tree growth and to improve plant health by encouraging air circulation. The use of hedge planting and pruning has been a feature of mediterranean gardens and English classic garden design for centuries.

If shrubs and trees are allowed to grow uncontrolled, they may become to large for the space in your garden. Often branches are left at an awkward height near pathways that can result in safety issues. It is often the case that a tree of shrub will become misshaped through natural growth and some pruning is required to improve its aesthetics.

For flowering shrubs and trees, the correct pruning technique will encourage new growth of younger shoots and in some cases more flowering in the longer term. Annual pruning of fruit trees will often result in better quality and larger fruit as well as a reduction in fungal diseases.

Keeping your garden hedge well maintained in the first place, will save you money and add value to your property. A hedge that is not well maintained may not only lose its shape, but will leave bare patches of hedge when it is finally shaped with the trimmer or saw.

Originally developed in Europe to grow fruit trees in a microclimate, a warm wall was used to provide heat and support to the plant. Later, trellises were also used to support espalier plants.

Supports for espalier plants now include wooden, metal and wire supports as well as stone, brick and even glass walls. Espalier is a great technique for improving the look of a fence or wall especially in the case of a small garden.

Pleaching is a great technique for creating a screen for garden privacy. Pleaching can be applied not only in a straight line, but also as a circle or rectangle.

Pleaching is a great way to create a green privacy screen in your garden. It can also be used to create an impenetrable hedge which can be used as a fence. It makes a nice alternative to a wire fence in rural areas.

If you would like a qualified horticulturist to take a look at your hedging needs contact us.

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For all of your garden maintenance needs or help with the design  and development or your landscaping ideas, contact one of our experienced Landscape Gardeners. We can help with small garden design all the way up to  Commercial Landscape design.  Our specialities include fast growing screening plants, plant health as well as horticulture, garden lighting  and outdoor pool landscaping ideas.


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Landscaping Melbourne with Climbing Plants

Climbing plants can transform a dull wall or grey fence into a colourful and spectacular feature of your garden and enhance garden privacy. If your garden is so small that you do not have room for a tree, then a climbing plant will give you the vertical dimension to help create interest in your garden. Climbing plants can create a harmonious transition zone from the interior to the exterior of the home and help to develop that feeling of the garden as an extension of the home. Many climbing plants will also bring fragrance to your garden and most will bring privacy to your backyard and swimming pool areas.

wooden pergola

An Urban Rooftop garden with a wooden pergola and potted climbing plants.

Climbing plants also make a great feature when growing on a a wooden pergola. This can be used with great effect on rooftop garden installations to hide unsightly buildings or provide shade for an outdoor entertaining area.

What are the best climbing plants?

The best climbing plants for your garden will depend on a number of factors including the amount of sun and shade on the wall or fence you are covering.  Even then, there is a large choice depending on your personal taste and garden design style. There is a wide range of colour and fragrance available.



What are the best climbing plants for trellis?

Most climbers will require some sort of support to grow on. There are a few that do not require support, including climbing hydrangea and ivy. For most climbing plants, trellis is an ideal support, but make sure you use trellis that is strong enough to support both the weight of the plant and any wind loads. Tensioned wire supports and trellis are the two main types of support.


Our best climbing plants for trellis;

  1. Clematis Hybrids for full sun or part shade, but keep the roots mulched or in shade. 2-3m.
  2. Honeysuckle (Lonicera) for partial shade to sunny with scented flowers. 2-6m.
  3. Climbing Rose for full sun, but they will require strong supports. 2-5m.
Climbing Plants Humulus lupulus, jasminum azoricum ,rhodochiton atrosanguine, passiflora white passion, gloriosa rothschildiana, Ipomoea purpurea, CLIMBERS

Climbing Plants Humulus lupulus, jasminum azoricum ,rhodochiton atrosanguine, passiflora white passion, gloriosa rothschildiana and Ipomoea purpurea climbers.




Clematis belong to the family Ranunculaceae which also contains delphiniums, anemones and buttercup. The name comes from the ancient Greek word κλῆμα (klema) meaning vine branch. The clematis flower does not have petals and this makes it unusual in the plant world. The sepals, which in most plants cover the emerging flower, have evolved to fulfil the role of petals and it is these that make the wonderful colours. You will se in the photographs below that the stamens have in some cases, also taken on the look of petals.

Clematis are are mostly grown as climbing plants, but some varieties can also be grown successfully as ground covers. There is plenty of choice with over 325 species and these grow naturally in nearly every part of the world and also there are the the many hybrids and cultivars to consider.

Clematis climbing plants on display.

Clematis climbing plants on display. (Floyds climbers and clematis.)


Clematis have been cultivated in the gardens of Europe for centuries. In the 1500s two significant varieties were introduced into Britain. These were the Clematis Integrifolia and the Clematis viticella. More varieties were introduced later. These included  the herbaceous Clematis recta, and the Clematis flammula and Clematis cirrhosa.

The age of the Plant Hunters

In the 1600s demand for new plants soared and consequently plant hunters began bring back plants from the Americas. However the most significant  introduction was those introduced from China. These species included Clematis lanuginosa and Clematis patens and a variety of Clematis florida with double white green flowers was also introduced.

Climbing Clematis

The Hybrids

The first hybridisation was the crossing of Clematis Integrifolia and Clematis Viticella and this resulted in Clematis Eriostemon. It was the hybridisation of the original three Chinese species which created all of the large flowered hybrids.



Clematis varieties to look for.

Climbing Clematis

Clematis Amethyst Beauty. A stunning climber that will grow to 2m tall. It will flower from summer into early autumn. Beautiful flowers reddish purple coloured flowers with a wavy margin.






Clematis Arctic Queen a medium-sized deciduous climber. A plethora of 150 mm double flowers from early summer to early to mid autumn.

Clematis Arctic Queen is a medium-sized deciduous climber. A plethora of 150 mm double flowers from early summer to early to mid autumn.


Climbing Plants - Clematis ‘Shimmer’ is a large-flowered Group 3 clematis. It has huge blue-lilac blooms up to 180mm. It’s the perfect climber to grow up a wall or fence. 

Clematis ‘Shimmer’ is a large-flowered Group 3 clematis. It has huge blue-lilac blooms up to 180mm. It’s the perfect climber to grow up a wall or fence.



Clematis Samaritan Jo is medium-sized, climber growing up to 1.5m high. It has with dark to mid-green leaves. Samaritan Jo has large star shaped flowers with a purple edged silver white colour up to 150mm in diameter. Distinctive flower stamens are pink-purple with yellow tips. Flowers are produced  in a long flowering season from early summer all the way to late autumn.

Clematis Samaritan Jo is medium-sized, climber growing up to 1.5m high. It has with dark to mid-green leaves. Samaritan Jo has large star shaped flowers and with a purple edged silver white colour up to 150mm in diameter. Distinctive flower stamens are pink-purple with yellow tips. Flowers are produced  in a long flowering season from early summer all the way to late autumn.





Climbing Plants - Clematis Viennetta

A Clematis Viennetta is a climbing clematis that grows up to  to 2.5m in height. It has absolutely stunning multi coloured flowers . The massive purple stamens contrast with the creamy white flowers.  You will see these lovely flowers from  early summer to mid autumn.






Clematis 'Taiga' is a great climbing plant which grows to around to 2.5 metres.

Clematis ‘Taiga’ is a great climbing plant which grows to around to 2.5 metres and has purple / blue flowers with greeny white tips on the frilly tepals. From Summer to Autumn these open up to become stunning fully double flower rosettes.


What are the 3 types of clematis?

There are 3 different pruning regimes for clematis and consequently 3 different types. They are either not pruned, lightly pruned or heavily pruned. Always check with your local plant nursery when buying.

Frequently asked questions about clematis

Is Clematis easy to grow?

Clematis is very easy to grow, but they prefer slightly alkaline topsoil with the roots in the shaped or covered by a mulch of well rotted manure..

What is the best time of year to plant a clematis?
Does clematis need full sun?

Lonicera (Honeysuckle)

Honeysuckles are available both as shrubby varieties and as climbing plants. Honeysuckles can grow up to 6 metres and so make great for covering bare walls. Do not plant these vigorous climbing plants if you are in one of the Melbourne bushland suburbs, because they can escape into the bush and become a weed. There are some shade tolerant varieties, but these tend to have lower levels of scent.

Lonicera Japonica

Climbing Plants Japanese honeysuckle Lonicera japonica is a vigorous twining large evergreen climber

Japanese honeysuckle or Lonicera japonica is a vigorous large evergreen climber

Lonicera japonica is a vigorous twining large evergreen climber with dark green oval leaves. The highly fragrant, white-yellow  flowers are up to 40mm long and result in black glossy berries.


Fast growing climbing plants Lonicera periclymenum or common honeysuckle..

Lonicera periclymenum or common honeysuckle.

The common honeysuckle is woody climber with oval leaves that are opposite in pairs. Flowerheads are long white and yellow trumpets that appear in summer, and are consequently followed by clusters of red glossy berries.

Climbing plant honeysuckle Kamchatka stunning bright blue berries.

Climbing plant Honeyberry Lonicera caerulea var. Kamchatka stunning bright blue berries.

The honeyberry fruits look and taste very similar to blueberries and similarly can be used in jams or eaten raw. They are also high in vitamin C and antioxidants.

Climbing Rose

The climbing rose is the best choice for hot dry conditions and therefore most Melbourne gardens with a sunny aspect. In garden design they are a great choice for small gardens because they can give a garden vertical height. Climbing or rambling roses can be grown on a fence or wall, but they also have great impact as a climber over a pergola or arbor. This garden design feature will take your eye up and over and back down and also create a pleasant fragrance to greet visitors to your garden.


Red Climbing rose on a pergola.

Red Climbing rose on a pergola.


A pink climbing rose on a brick wall.

A pink climbing rose on a brick wall.

Garden Arbor or arch with climbing plants.

Garden Arbor or arch with climbing plants over a brick garden path. A pink Climbing Rose will bring beauty and fragrance to your garden. The arbor will also create vertical interest in your design.

What are the fastest growing climbing plants?


Climbing plants like Morning Glory and Lonicera are very fast growing but will very quickly become a weed in your garden or in native bushland. Choose clematis or climbing roses instead if this is a risk. Fast growing climbers are therefore suitable for small  inner Melbourne gardens, but not bushland gardens.

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Royal Horticultural Society

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Kangaroo Paw ( anigozanthos )

Landscaping with Anigozanthos Kangaroo paw

Anigozanthos are tufted rhizomatous evergreen  perennials that are members of the bloodwort family.

Bush Pearl

Anigozanthos ‘bush pearl’ also known as Pink Kangaroo paw.
Native to Western Australia, Anigozanthos ‘bush pearl’ are lovers of harsh dry arid conditions. Kangaroo paw are notorious for struggling with humid conditions , they tend to turn black, rot and die off during the winter months. Despite these disadvantages,  these plants have proven their versatility in sandy soil and coastal gardens.

pink flowered kangaroo paw

Pink flowered kangaroo paw.


Planting your Anigozanthos

With correct planting in well draining, sandy loam soil and the use of low phosphorus organic fertilizers, kangaroo paws will flower year round in warm climates.

Anigozanthos humilis Kangaroo Paw

Anigozanthos prefer sandy well drained soil. Anigozanthos humilis also known as catspaw is also endemic to southern Western Australia.

Kangaroo paws have co-evolved with native birds, the structure of the inflorescence attracts indigenous birds to aid with pollination and seed distribution. They are another “must have” sustainable Australian  native plant to incorporate into the eco friendly Australian Garden. If you are the person who enjoys colours, textures and unique then the kangaroo paw  bush pearl is the plant for you.


Landscaping with Anigozanthos

Adding some Anigozanthos  into your garden will dramatically increase the colour vibrancy and brighten up any landscape garden design, especially since they perform so well on in coastal gardens. These beauties will be sure to out live any other plant in your garden, and they look amazing in pots for on your outdoor decking or entertaining area. Another great advantage of having kangaroo paw in your garden is the entertaining show that the native birds and honey eaters will put on as they feed on the plant, so be sure to place the plant in area that you are able to observe nature do it’s thing.

Australian yellow kangaroo paw flower (Anigozanthos pulcherrimus) in front of a grasstree

Australian yellow kangaroo paw flower (Anigozanthos pulcherrimus) in front of a grasstree (Xanthorrhoea).


Frequently asked Questions about Anigozanthos

How do you take care of a kangaroo paw plant?

It is important not to over water or over fertilise your kangaroo paw. These plants have evolved in well draining poor soils.

What can I plant next to kangaroo paw?

Anigozanthos should be planted next to other plants that love sandy soil. We recommend planting with xanthorrhoea 

The Xanthorrhoea has similar needs to the Anigozanthos with both preferring sandy, well drained soils. The Anigozanthos flowers will make a great contrast with the black trunk and green leaves of the xanthorrhoea.

Why are my kangaroo paws turning black?

Kangaroo Paws will turn black or get black spots due to a fungal disease known as Ink Disease or Ink Spot. Ink disease is thought to be caused by the fungal pathogen Alternaria alternata. It is usually a slow growing fungus that plants survive, but ask your local plant nursery for a fungicide if it starts to take over. The best treatment is to cut off the leaves affected and ensure the plant has plenty of sun and good air circulation. Encouraging vigorous plant growth by adding trace elements like dilute liquid seaweed may help. When selecting new plants, ask your local plant nursery for the best plants for humid conditions. A good variety to choose to avoid ink disease is Anigozanthos Flavidus.

Alternaria alternata or Ink Disease on a Kangaroo Paw.

Alternaria alternata or Ink Disease on a Kangaroo Paw.


Anigozanthos Flavidus.

A. flavidus kangaroo paw is more resistant to Ink Disease.



Related Landscaping Ideas from Red’s Landscaping

Xanthorrhoea The Australian Grass Tree


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Salvia Leucantha or Mexican Bush Sage


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More information on Anigozanthos

Pests and Diseases




Ink Disease


Native Plant Diseases

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