There were many things that caught my eye at this years Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. One garden that was particularly appealing was ‘Avant-garden’ designed by Brett Robinson of Acre Landscape Architecture Studio. It successfully applied the age-old tag of ‘Keep It Simple’. The combined plant and material palette offering a textural feast yet delivering a peaceful calm as a result of the bold architectural lines and minimal fuss.
Brett was one of five Landscape Designers shortlisted from a state-wide design competition to build his design for the show. The brief by Landscaping Victoria was open-ended which meant designers could explore their own design principles freely, the only restriction being the 5 x 5m space that they had to work within.
My aim for Avant-garden was to show that hardy gardens with native elements could still create a feeling of calmness and formality, even in small spaces.
The hardscaping within the space included custom, water-cut compressed cement panels – a brand new material in Australia sourced from Equitone, Belgium. These panels have a stunning impact on the garden as well as being very durable. They also won’t fade in the sun.
Imported hand-made Kolumba bricks in a deep grey tone were used to frame the garden beds and provide a solid backdrop contrasting with the soft plant textures. A solid brass strip ran through its centre adding an elegant detail.
Solid, 100mm honed bluestone rested in front of the floating Blackbutt deck and paved the way through the custom-designed water feature which had a slab of stone laying just below the surface to create an interesting ripple effect.
For ground cover, Dichondra Repens was used and placed between the steppers. Seascape Lomandra was planted en mass with small, weeping Spotty Gums in the brick planter. The random bursts of yellow from the strategically placed Kangaroo paws peaked through the soft underplanting.
In the main bed, I dotted Lambs’ Ears, Euphorbias, Jerusalem Sage and Birthday Candle Banksia throughout so their varying textural, visual and colour qualities would all play off each other nicely.
Only a year and a half old, Acre has had a successful beginning. Brett’s journey to landscape architecture started with a dream of becoming an architect, continued as a graphic designer, and after landing a lighting design role specialising in outdoor lighting, he soon after began working for one of Melbourne’s leading residential landscape design firms, C.O.S Design. Here he stayed for almost a decade and in that time completed his Masters in Landscape Architecture at Melbourne University. It wasn’t until early last year that Brett decided it was time to head out on his own and start Acre.
Currently working on several residential and commercial projects from the Mornington Peninsula to Daylesford, we look forward to following Acres progress and covering these gardens upon completion in the not to distant future.
The short of it…
Brett Robinson, Acre Landscape Architecture Studio
Melbourne and surrounds