Often when we think of Melbournes climate we think of a mediterranean type climate with hot, dry summers and wet, cold winters. While this generalisation is fair it doesn't take into account the nuances of microclimates. Microclimates can be found in every garden and understanding them can open up possibilities for planting that you possibly hadn't considered in Melbourne. Our inner city courtyards offer some of our most protected gardening locations.
This garden presented us with a situation where we had a protected courtyard to work within but also an ancient Magnolia tree with which to compete with. establishing plants under established trees is one of the trickiest spots to work with but for every obstacle there is always a solution.
The clients request was to prioritise foliage over flowers which further solidified the concept that we already had brewing in our mind. We proposed a garden with a distinctive tropical feeling to it using large dramatic foliage plants such as Alcanterea, Fatsia japonica and Tetrapanax papyrifer to create a mid storey accompanied by Philodendron xanadu, Walking Iris, Neoregelia and Aechmea (Bromeliads) and Asparagus meyerii. Papyrus was planted down a narrow strip beside the deck.
Large pieces of honeycomb basalt were added to complete a path through the garden and the fences were wired up with stainless steel cable to enable Clematis armandii to be grown and further green up the courtyard. Between the paving we planted Pratia pedunculata through the seating area and Pachysandra through the walkway. A water feature by Rudi Jass and pond were fixed to the rear wall.
Although the brief was for foliage over flowering there is still plenty of flowering plants amongst the garden in the form of Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender', The Clematis armandii and the Walking iris as well as the groundcover, Pratia of which we have planted both blue and white flowering forms. There is also colour in the form of the dramatic foliage colours that the Bromeliads will take on through the winter months as they are exposed to direct sun.
We hope to add updated photos for this garden as the climbers fill in and cover the walls and the groundcovers stitch through the pavers. In time this garden will be cloaked in green from the ground up to the top of the walls.