The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020

The Gisborne garden of Kathleen Murphy, EWHA member and Landscape Designer has been shortlisted in the Landscape Design category. She is one of only 2 women whose designs have been shortlisted. We congratulate Kathleen and wish her luck when the awards are announced in November.

Here is Kathleen’s story behind the design:

In 2017 I embarked on creating my own garden essentially a family back garden, it differed from a standard family garden in that it was also to be a garden for the Landscape Design Studio I run.

My vision was to frame the amazing view we have of the Macedon Ranges and to nestle the newly built studio into the landscape. I designed the garden as much from what it looked like inside the house, looking out onto the garden. The steppers across the billabong have been positioned so that they can be seen from the kitchen sink!

This garden is essentially a family garden, catering to kids with bikes, footballs and random running all over plants! Everything is tough, and drought and frost hardy. If it doesn’t survive, it doesn’t get replanted! I use this garden as a place to experiment with plants before I use them in other projects, hence it never looks the same and is always changing. Clients get to see first- hand what some of the plants I am suggesting look like, and how they behave.


Kathleen Murphy's Garden - with friends around a fire pit

The key plants are native grasses, such as Lomandra species, as they look good all year round and are low maintenance. I have used clumps of succulents and shrubs, like clipped Westringia and prostrate Rosemary, for texture.

Adding colour is often done in my garden through the use of perennial plantings, which require more maintenance and need to be cut back in winter, however, I just love the Verbena bonariensis, Salvia nemorosa and Pervoskia their purple hues which work well with soft muted greens and greys.

The most challenging part of the project was building the billabong. The sourcing of clay and rocks was difficult. The placement of materials required large machinery to come through the garden without damaging areas already well established. We overcame this by co-ordinating deliveries and aspects of the build to reduce the impact, even moving river pebbles by hand so that areas of the garden weren’t destroyed by large machines. When EWHA visited two years ago, some of you would have seen the large hole dug for the soon to be billabong, here are some updated images of what it looks like now.

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