Small Front garden ideas Australia
SERIES 24 Episode 07
John visits a gardener who hasn't let limited space hinder creativity
"There are some designers out there doing amazing things, " says John, "even in the smallest of spaces. I'm always keen to meet them and try and get into their minds to understand the way they achieve what they do."
One of the first things John notices in Andrew Plymin's garden is a rusty old spring mattress attached to a rendered brick wall. Andrew found it on the nature strip - John is impressed by the way it graphically breaks up the space of the wall.
Andrew's a garden designer and plant lover. His small suburban block in the Melbourne beachside suburb of Elwood is packed full of foliage colour and texture, sculptural species, personality and quirk. John thinks it's a testament to his approach to plants and garden spaces.
"This garden's very much a personal space and I just fill it with things that I like. I don't really care if they're fashionable or if they actually all go together, I just pick leaf shapes that I like, different layers of green and different colours. I'm not particularly into Latin names and needing to know about the whole horticultural thing, as such. I just buy plants cause I like them and put them in. If they don't actually work - I whip them out and try something else, " he says.
"I notice that you've got lots of what I might call found objects here, " says John, "that you obviously collect to overlay the plants."
Andrew explains, "There's lots of rusty things. There's an old window grille and also what I think is a spring from some industrial machine or an old building or something like that. I just find them on the junk piles and stick them in the back of the car when I'm driving past and drag them home and they all start to work together as a group."
John notes that Andrew divides up his garden to create rooms, but believes there's a sense that one leads on to the next. Andrew uses English Box as a linking device to each 'room'.
"They're kind of designed so each room, once you get there you have a look and there's a few little surprises within that space. I suppose using a plant like box (English Box - Buxus sempervirens) which I've used pretty much throughout the whole garden, drags you from one space and makes you kind of want to keep walking to the other. But if it's just straight box, I think it actually becomes pretty boring and so there's areas where I've actually started to clip it - into balls and waves and things like that."
Despite the impressive space, Andrew's a relative newcomer to garden design. He explains, "my background is advertising and graphic design and I've always had a love of gardens, but the actual rules of design - no matter if it's fashion design, graphic design, landscape design - you still follow the same rules. You know, you use odd numbers when you're setting out things and some landscape designers are very, very much into plants and they use the plants to lead their design. I actually kind of design very graphically and actually get the space to work first and then furnish it."
"I must say, Andrew, I find this front garden particularly rewarding. For a small space, there's an enormous amount going on, " John says.
"Like all my designs, " says Andrew, "it's divided into two smaller spaces within the one space, so we've got this little circular space surrounding this fantastic old deciduous magnolia which has this absolutely brilliant trunk." Andrew again uses the English box to frame the area. "But in this space, it's actually cut into balls and surrounding the tree trunk it's kind of cut into a crown-like shape." John describes it as a coronet.
Andrew says it frames the tree to give a central design point. The area also features white gravel and handmade pavers, which are just made out of black and white pebbles in circular patterns.
John finds the pavers particularly effective, saying "Those are the sorts of things that people can do at home with a little bit of creative imagination."
"I think this is a marvellous garden, " John enthuses. "It's a treasure trove of really imaginative design ideas and it just goes to show that if you can reveal that inner-creative self, you can create a lovely garden at a relatively low cost."
Information contained in this fact sheet is a summary of material included in the program. If further information is required, please contact your local nursery or garden centre.