Australia’s National Trusts were established with the mission of preserving the country’s most important natural, cultural and Indigenous heritage sites. Though Victoria’s trust is largely dedicated to safeguarding the state’s notable architecture from redevelopment, its status as our leading conservation organisation also extends to protecting significant natural sites from the same fate. This Deepdene garden is one of them!
Landscape designer Ian Barker engaged in this masterful conservation effort by combining modern practices with heritage style. ‘We designed and constructed a large, sweeping lawn edged with garden beds of mixed perennials and grasses, all offset by the original, established pin oaks,’ he said. Rather than radically reorganising the large plot, the new designs respected the traditional arrangement of the original garden, and used the planting palette to rejuvenate the ageing space.
Believed to have been originally designed by William Guilfoyle (the creator of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens) in the 1860s, it was important to retain a sense of this garden’s impressive legacy. The original cork oak and restored rose arbours anchor the garden in its history, while new plantings including topiary, caradonna, purple vervain, husker red and oriental pearl create a vibrant, textured vista beyond. A serene bluestone pond is surrounded by towering topiary and an evergreen hedge, while a 13-metre bluestone bench seat clad in herringbone tiles wraps the rear of the property. The terrace, path and outdoor dining area feature large bluestone pavers, while the rest of the sturdy materials palette consists of granite rock gravel and Torquay stone.
Preserving the 135-year-old cork oak presented the main challenge to Ian’s team. They even used an x-ray machine to scan the ground around the ancient trunk pre-excavation to ensure they had a clear understanding of the root system woven under the earth!
For Ian, there is a poignant circularity to his work on the Deepdene project. ‘I used to pass this property every day on the school bus and wonder who lived there,’ he remembers. ‘So it has been one of the most rewarding jobs of my life, to help bring back the original grandeur of this 150-year-old garden.’
See more projects from Ian Barker Gardens here.