Pepo Botanic Design director Nicola Cameron looked to a garden on the other side of the Pacific Ocean for inspiration when starting work on this serene coastal garden at Outcrop House, in Palm Beach.
‘We were very inspired by the work of Chilean landscape designer Juan Grimm,’ Nicola says. ‘We saw him speak at a conference in Melbourne and his own garden at Los Vilos in Chile was a key reference when approaching this design.’
Despite being more than 11,000km away from each other, the two projects shared a number of similarities – namely being their cliffside location. But Outcrop House’s rocky and steep position came with its own set of complications, including being completely exposed to the harsh coastal elements, and persistent weeds hidden among the existing planting, which had to be continually removed.
‘Our goal was to create a garden that would act as habitat for native birds and wildlife,’ she says. ‘This meant incorporating more ground cover and lower-lying plants, which prevents larger predatory birds preying on smaller creatures below. Aesthetically, this was also ideal as our clients requested that any planting enhance the view rather than obstructing it.’
They chose native varieties that are environmentally sensitive to help to stabilise the hillside and prevent erosion. Doryanthes excelsa (Gymea Lily), Rhagodia spinescens (Spiny Saltbush) and clusters of Casuarina glauca or ‘Green Wave’ (Casuarina She-Oaks) have been cleverly shaped into balls to mimic the rocky landforms and undulating landscape.
‘As the plants have grown, we’ve shaped and formed them for aesthetic, framing the stunning ocean views with a balancing combination of texture and foliage – everything is connected,’ Nicola explains.
Their careful design and ongoing maintenance has turned the rocky outcrop overlooking Whale Beach into a total sanctuary, with a pool, garden sculptures and vertical steel rods beside pathways leading down to a yoga deck.
‘The ocean views are spectacular but I love to stand at the bottom of the garden and look back up the hill towards the house,’ Nicola adds. ‘From this vantage point you can take in the sculpted balls of bright green, which contrast so beautifully with the dark grey, less structured forms of the Westringia, providing a perfect counterpoint to the bold, modern lines and soaring architecture of the house.’