Calming Waters, MIFGS 2016

Calming waters

Calming Waters

‘Calming Waters’ was the winning entry in the Boutique Gardens competition at the 2016 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

Design Brief

‘Calming Waters’ is a healing garden designed to nurture contentment and peace of mind by capturing the relaxing nature of moving water.

Central to this garden is an aesthetically pleasing, natural rock stream nestled in a woodland-style garden. The stream has been designed to provide variation and interest in structure, and ebb and flow of water. The stream begins mysteriously within the midst of the woodland forest and then gently meanders around a glade of birches. It widens in front of a secluded pergola, allowing the water to slow and eddy around plants and islands of rocks. Once past the pergola, the stream gently gathers pace as it travels through the remaining section of the woodland forest to seemingly vanish over the edge in a sudden sheet waterfall.

The silver birch trees provide the main upper storey of the woodland, creating the forest atmosphere. The striking white bark provides contrast, while the delicate foliage allows dappled light in during the warmer months. Their graceful weeping habit creates restful lines over the running stream. Yellow leaves in autumn also provide seasonal interest.

The woodland understorey includes plants with a mostly analogous colour scheme to induce a serene feeling, while still combining interesting textures and forms. Hostas, sweet flag and hellebores are amongst the plants that create a palette of yellow-greens, blue-greens and deep greens. A variety of foliage textures combine to create an interesting scene; from the small leaves of box next to the toothed leaves of hellebores, and the fine dainty fronds of maidenhair ferns against the large foliage of the hostas. In winter, common snowdrops extend the woodland display with their delicate white flowers and hellebores display their lime-coloured blooms.

The pergola, on the far side of the stream, provides the best position to experience this garden. To arrive there, a patch of lush green grass provides an opening, beckoning to you to use the stepping stones to cross the stream. The grass also hints that this peaceful space could exist in any home. Designed to blend into the forest, the rustic, recycled hardwood pergola provides a private resting spot for one or two people. The dense planting of camellias around the structure create a sense of seclusion. The silver birches softly screen the pergola from the front of the garden. Cushions on the floor invite you to sit on the ground and engage with nature. The stream to the front entices you to dangle your feet in its coolness on a hot summer’s day.

As you sit in the pergola, allow your senses to distract you from the stresses of life. Listen to the therapeutic music of the water as it trickles down the stream. Look mesmerizingly at the water as it dances over the rocks and creates little splashes, ripples and reflections. Feel the sunlight caressing your face as it filters through the birch trees. Inhale and enjoy the delightful scents from the osmanthus. Look afar into the woodland and feel calmed by the various soothing shades of green in the forest understorey. Spend 10 minutes, or an hour here in this quiet place to rest and renew.