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Before & After: A Two-Faced Victorian Garden with a Secret

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Before & After: A Two-Faced Victorian Garden with a Secret

September 1, 2020

Seen from the street, a gingerbread Victorian cottage near Melbourne, Australia hides its secret: a streamlined rear extension with a sleekly modern silhouette. The challenge for landscape architect Ben Scott of Ben Scott Garden Design was to create a garden to connect the two faces of the facade.

The result is a front garden with irresistible curb appeal: an informal, meandering design of old-fashioned flowering plants punctuated by spiky perennial grasses that add a modern sensibility.

The back garden is another story. During a remodel a few years ago, homeowners Lynn and Brett Cheong added spaces for outdoor dining and entertaining.  To complement the contemporary design, Scott’s back garden emphasizes the sharp-edged geometry of the architecture.

Let’s take a walk around the garden, from front to back.

Photography by Derek Swalwell, courtesy of Ben Scott Garden Design.

Mature liquidamber and Japanese maple trees were starting points for Scott&#8
Above: Mature liquidamber and Japanese maple trees were starting points for Scott’s garden design. At the edge of the wraparound front porch, a tumble of oakleaf hydrangeas and purple verbena is happy beneath a tree canopy.

For more growing tips, see Verbena: A Field Guide to Planting, Care, & Design.

Bluestone pavers lead to a handmade garden swing, tucked into a shady corner.
Above: Bluestone pavers lead to a handmade garden swing, tucked into a shady corner.
Similar in habit to the ground cover star creeper (which is an Isotoma), Australia native Pratia blooms with an explosion of starry white flowers.
Above: Similar in habit to the ground cover star creeper (which is an Isotoma), Australia native Pratia blooms with an explosion of starry white flowers.

See more landscaping ideas in Hardscaping 101: Ground Covers to Plant Between Pavers.

Sedum &#8
Above: Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ spills over the edge of a garden bed.
Painted wedding-cake white, a Victorian weatherboard facade gains texture from layers of perennials, including exuberant euphorbias (to the right of the walkway).
Above: Painted wedding-cake white, a Victorian weatherboard facade gains texture from layers of perennials, including exuberant euphorbias (to the right of the walkway).

Before

Before the Cheongs moved in, the house was painted yellow and had a patchy front lawn. Photograph via Real Estate.
Above: Before the Cheongs moved in, the house was painted yellow and had a patchy front lawn. Photograph via Real Estate.

After

Mixed in with old-fashioned flowering plants, spiky grasses including Lomandra and Miscanthus add a modern element.
Above: Mixed in with old-fashioned flowering plants, spiky grasses including Lomandra and Miscanthus add a modern element.
In a gravel courtyard on the side of the house, homeowner Lynn Cheong grows herbs in a raised-bed kitchen garden made from recycled apple crates.
Above: In a gravel courtyard on the side of the house, homeowner Lynn Cheong grows herbs in a raised-bed kitchen garden made from recycled apple crates.
Boston ivy softens the fence, and a row of pleached flowering pears (Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’) creates another layer of foliage (and privacy).
Above: Boston ivy softens the fence, and a row of pleached flowering pears (Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’) creates another layer of foliage (and privacy).
In the back garden, the emphasis shifts to clean lines and modern silhouettes: bamboo, grape vines on the pergola that shades the dining terrace, and shrubs (Gardenia florida) planted against the back wall of the house.
Above: In the back garden, the emphasis shifts to clean lines and modern silhouettes: bamboo, grape vines on the pergola that shades the dining terrace, and shrubs (Gardenia florida) planted against the back wall of the house.

The non-invasive Bambusa textilis ‘Gracilis’ (a clumping bamboo) is planted against the fence line to add privacy.

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