Plant Life Balance

Garden first, house second.

Landscape architect and Managing Director of Coolth Inc, Phil Edwards shares that his Cremorne home was designed with the garden first and then the Architect’s brief was to fit a home within it.

How would you describe your home when it comes to trees and plants?
The site is green from back to front with large evergreen native street trees on the east side, a lush green edge with Evergreen Magnolias and Benjamina Figs shielding the home in the morning. We have a rain garden in the front yard growing a healthy coffee plantation. The second room of the cottage was removed to maintain a bedroom-sized courtyard with a tropical-looking vertical garden and kids play area.

There’s a green roof with lush climbers on the balustrade and a carpet of native grasses and forbs making up a meadow right across the top. The rear facade has windows sheltered by a 6m high green facade of passion vine and Virginia creeper. The rear courtyard has two mature Mt Fuji Cherries in a rain garden planted with Dianella revolula at the base. The north-facing wall of the rear courtyard is the edible wall, greens all year, with a lush east-facing vertical garden on the rear fence.

Across the laneway, we borrow a huge Mulberry tree, enclosing the home in garden

Why do you have all this green, what does it do for your life?
Surrounding ourselves in landscape has multiple benefits. The courtyards remain cool in summer for pets and humans alike. The gardens are resilient and yet they present beauty in many ways. The roof garden is a spectacular space to be among plants on hot or cold days or evenings. Summer nights are special. It has value that you would never anticipate in a project when pricing it, you only experience it when you drive at the finished product. With the inner city rooftops with CBD views, the MCG and AAMI Park lights all year round – it’s a spectacle every time.

How about you, is it fun/relaxing?
I find the weeding relaxing, it’s my escape like any garden, but it’s on top of the world. I love the roof for the escape of listening to my wife play the guitar as the sole audience member, yet the whole neighbourhood can hear if they try.  

What’s the best thing about having your own green oasis?
It has been amazing for all the reasons above but the best thing is that I can speak from an authentic and confident standpoint when convincing my clients that there is no better way.

What’s your favourite plant in your garden/home?
If I had to pick the superstar it would be the Stypandra glauca. It’s an amazing native grass with emerald green leaves and violet-blue flowers that are just superb.

How would you rate your plant life balance?
I am surrounded all year 200% and I love it.

For first time gardeners, what’s your hot tip for starting out?
Gardening is simple and rewarding, plants are resilient and gardening is based on common sense.

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