By Matthew Sears
When people think about their gardens, more often than not the first thing that comes to mind is the backyard and their main entertaining space as this is often the focal point of the home and outdoor space. Unfortunately, this often leaves the front of the home and front entrance neglected and somewhat of an afterthought. So many times, have I seen homes with the most wonderful backyards but with lacklustre and uninspired entrances to the home.
The entrance to the home is the first thing you see as you come home. It welcomes you to your personal sanctuary, and it should be something that gives you that sense of awe every single time to come down the road and into the driveway, making you feel like you have ‘arrived’. Likewise, it’s the first impression for your guests and gives you the chance to really make a statement about yourself, your home and your passions.
This project gave us the opportunity to expand on these themes with our client. The home is stunning, but the front garden had gone past its best and needed to be brought up to date. A total rethink was given to the front entrance and how a sense of drama could be created in anticipation of what was behind the front door, drawing you up the path and welcoming you inside.
Starting with the drive, we selected Porphyry Filetti irregular cobblestones for the sensational colour tones and texture, but ultimately because of their ability to be bent around the near 90o driveway curve, in which a standard cobblestone layout would feel clunky and rigid. The stones were then carried on to the reshaped front path leading up to the three huge burnished concrete plinth steps. We wanted these steps to add drama and a sense of scale to the entrance of the home. The desire was to build the anticipation and suspense as visitors walk up the path, slowly being greeted by features increasing in beauty and drama as you reach the courtyard door.
The original cedar screen dividing fence between the outer garden and inner courtyard was removed and replaced with a stone-clad block wall; something with true weight and grandeur to really develop the sense of intrigue about what lies beyond the door.
And what a door we created – bespoke fabricated aluminium and coated with the most sensational bronze applied metal finish. The play of light and colour on the door makes it the real party piece of the garden, a true stop-you-in-your-tracks element and we were very proud the clients were willing to indulge our design creativeness.
The plant selection, we would call ‘contemporary coastal’, was a mix of lush greenery and striking architectural feature plants blended in a way to give a full sense that the design has been extremely considered but not forced. We were required to work with the existing Kentia palms, but as the client didn’t want a tropical garden, we needed to be careful to select the underplanting that was contemporary but that didn’t clash with these beauties that gave us ready-made height in the garden, which is always a dream.
Rhaphiolepis ‘Oriental Pink’ and ‘Oriental Pearl’, along with sculptured balls of Buxus and Westringia fruticosa ‘Smokey’ have provided the majority of the lush foliage effect, while more architectural features such as Agave ‘Sharkskin’, Cowboy Cactus (Euphorbia ingens), Barrel Cactus and Sansevieria really elevate the garden with multiple textures. To soften the harsh lines, we used Zoyzia tenuifolia and Casuarina ‘Cousin It’ as low-level planting options to spread a soft green carpet amongst the other plants.
We added a super advanced Aloe barberae on a narrow strip of garden on the opposite side of the drive to balance the height, and link the entire garden. It sets off the whole façade and compliments the Kentia palms without going for the easy option of just planting in a matching palm.
The result is an entrance garden that makes a huge impact, complements the style and architecture of the home, and creates a real sense of excitement and wonder as you arrive.
Rich Earth landscape Design Pty. Ltd.
T: 0466 658 964
Main image: Burnished concrete floating stairs (Image: Rich Earth)