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Landscape Visit: Manicured—and Wild, on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula

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Landscape Visit: Manicured—and Wild, on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula

February 19, 2021

When Melbourne, Australia-based landscape designer Ben Scott first saw a newly built farmhouse on a 20-acre property about an hour’s drive south from the city, there was no garden to speak of. The only existing feature he had to work with was a stand of slender, native eucalyptus trees with a strong, architectural silhouette.

That was in 2012—and luckily the trees were all the inspiration he needed.

The result? A hazy, romantic landscape where texture and shape play as important a role as any color. Tightly pruned, round shrubs complement the matchstick trunks of the eucalyptus trees. Velvety green ground cover envelops the slopes surrounding the house and guesthouse. Formality gives way to wildness at the edges of the garden, where the surrounding bush frames a distant view to Western Port Bay on the Mornington Peninsula.

“I look to designers who use plants as the focus in their work,” says Scott. “I count Bernard Trainor in the US, Dan Pearson in the UK, Wolfgang Oehme in Germany, and Piet Oudolf in the Netherlands as strong influences.”

In 2016, new owners bought the property—and loved the design so much that they’ve asked Scott to expand its scope. Let’s take a look at the latest improvements:

Photography by Simon Griffiths, courtesy of Ben Scott Garden Design.

A native ground cover, Myoporum parvifolium (also known as creeping boobialla) grows between the pavers.
Above: A native ground cover, Myoporum parvifolium (also known as creeping boobialla) grows between the pavers.
The golden foliage of perennial sedge (Carex) adds texture and warmth to the landscape.
Above: The golden foliage of perennial sedge (Carex) adds texture and warmth to the landscape.
Native to Australia, Eucalyptus radiata trees gracefully drape over a zinc-sided guesthouse and a courtyard paved in granite gravel. Clipped boxwood balls breach the boundary between planting beds and gravel.
Above: Native to Australia, Eucalyptus radiata trees gracefully drape over a zinc-sided guesthouse and a courtyard paved in granite gravel. Clipped boxwood balls breach the boundary between planting beds and gravel.
Round shapes and flowing silhouettes echo the slopes of the land and soften the effect of the change in elevation (which varies by as much as 0 feet across the nearly -acre site).
Above: Round shapes and flowing silhouettes echo the slopes of the land and soften the effect of the change in elevation (which varies by as much as 100 feet across the nearly 20-acre site).
At the base of eucalyptus trees, white correa (Correa alba) is pruned into round (and not-so-round) doughnuts.
Above: At the base of eucalyptus trees, white correa (Correa alba) is pruned into round (and not-so-round) doughnuts.
Boston ivy cloaks a wall, bordered by more granite gravel held in check by Corten steel landscape edging.
Above: Boston ivy cloaks a wall, bordered by more granite gravel held in check by Corten steel landscape edging.
Shrubs including Westringia and silver-leafed germander (Teucrium fruticans) are clipped into round globe shapes.
Above: Shrubs including Westringia and silver-leafed germander (Teucrium fruticans) are clipped into round globe shapes.
A turf developed in drought-prone Australia, Kikuyu ‘Village Green’ is a low-water alternative to a traditional lawn.
Above: A turf developed in drought-prone Australia, Kikuyu ‘Village Green’ is a low-water alternative to a traditional lawn.
 Four ginkgo trees (Ginkgo biloba) anchor the corners of a gravel seating area with a fire pit.
Above: Four ginkgo trees (Ginkgo biloba) anchor the corners of a gravel seating area with a fire pit.

Trailing ground cover Convolvulus sabatius (blue rock bindweed) adds a contrasting color, which stands out dramatically against the many shades of green.

A hedge of Portuguese laurel (at right) encloses a patio area with a pizza oven. Boxwood, Cotyledon orbiculata, and Acanthus mollis grow in the foreground.
Above: A hedge of Portuguese laurel (at right) encloses a patio area with a pizza oven. Boxwood, Cotyledon orbiculata, and Acanthus mollis grow in the foreground.
Strong colors in the planting beds create a transition to a wilder landscape, complementing the rich golden slopes of the surrounding hills. Perennials include grasses, sedum, hebe, and burgundy-leafed smoke bush (Cotinus).
Above: Strong colors in the planting beds create a transition to a wilder landscape, complementing the rich golden slopes of the surrounding hills. Perennials include grasses, sedum, hebe, and burgundy-leafed smoke bush (Cotinus).

Are you designing a garden from scratch (or overhauling an existing landscape)? Start with inspiration from our curated guides to Garden Design 101, for help choosing Perennials, Shrubs, and just the right color of Gravel to complement the rest of the landscape.

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