A Sentimental Cottage Garden In Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs

When the owners of this Donvale cottage purchased the property, they quickly enlisted the help of garden designer Ashley James to revive its un-loved garden.

‘It wasn’t much of a garden originally,’ Ashely says.

As keen gardeners, the couple wanted a space they could enjoy and tinker in when they liked, but something relatively low maintenance that didn’t require them to work on it every day.

‘The clients are old family friends from the UK — both now retired — and they wanted a beautiful garden they could look out on and enjoy from every room in the house.’

Re-establishing the landscape was especially important given the home’s position in the centre of the sloping one-acre block, with stone walls and a staircase in the front yard that leads up to the entrance with a sense of mystery.

Ashley looked to traditional cottage-style gardens for inspiration to create the garden beds, combing plants like Buxus sempervirens (English box), Nepeta ‘walkers blue’ (catmint) and unique ornamental grasses like Miscanthus (Chinese silver grass) for a modern, whimsical feel.

‘The planting palette is a mixture of white, pinks, purples and soft pastels,’ he adds. ‘We also used organic bluestones surrounded by dichondra ground covers and perennial plantings to create romantic walkways throughout the garden.’

In the backyard, a lush stretch of lawn meets a wildflower meadow and a cut flower garden that allows the clients to have an endless selection of bright-coloured flowers around their house — ranging from Zinnia, to Marigold, or Cornflower, Cosmos, and many more.

With a personal connection to the owners, Ashley says his favourite part of the renewed landscaping is the memorial garden dedicated to their late son.

‘It’s a simple space in the garden with a timber chair (crafted by their son) under the shade of a large tree and surrounded by beautiful perennial plantings and meadow fields,’ Ashley explains.

‘My father and mentor created an earlier memorial garden at the client’s original family home in Kangaroo Ground, so it was a great honour to create a garden that I know means so much to them.’

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