Exuding a touch of the exotic, this striking courtyard garden, constructed by PTA Landscapes for MIFGS 2019, confidently blends traditional and contemporary elements to create an award-winning display that was, quite literally, the star of the show.
A compelling blend of European and Australian influences infused with distinct Mediterranean and Italian flavours, The Loggia took home four awards in this year’s Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show: The City of Melbourne Award of Excellence for Best in Show, Gold Show Garden, Horticultural Media Association for Best Use of Plant Life and the Mark Bence Construction Award.
These awards were an impressive feat and its easy to see why.
Designed by Tract Consultants and constructed by PTA Landscapes, under the guidance of directors Dion Loncar and Andrew Wilson, the garden was a response to the innate human need to connect with nature. The walls of the outdoor room (loggia), provided a level of comfort and structure to the garden while framing views and blurring the line between built form and plants.
Loggias found favour in Renaissance Tuscany but here, the centuries-old form was reinterpreted to create a garden catering for 21st-century sensibilities. Further defying classical definition, the show garden loggia also functioned as an aqueduct.
A thin bead of water flowed along the top, reaching its crescendo when it cascaded over the edge into the fountain waiting below.
Water was treated as an aesthetic element, yet consideration was given to its scarcity in Australia. A dry climate palette was employed, one comprised of timeless and attractive Mediterranean species mixed with Australian natives to form a bold romantic plantscape. For an eccentric flourish, exotic and rare species were used, such as the three Ceiba speciosa (silk floss trees) planted behind the seating area. The deciduous silk floss tree is native to South America and when it flowers it is smothered in pink blooms.
Contributing height, Laurus nobilis ‘Miles Choice’ and ‘Green Stem’ (bay trees) were dotted about, and there was also a single orange tree. The low planting was a mixture of agaves, kangaroo paws, cussonia, dianella, miscanthus, sedum, banksia, euphorbia, kniphofia, rosemary, lamb’s ears and junipers with Dichondra repens and Thymus serpyllum planted between the pavers.
Despite the small space, the garden provided an idealised habitat for pollinators such as bees, suggesting how a diverse and eclectic palette of exotic and native plants, including productive and pollinator plants can thrive in an urban courtyard setting.
Central to the garden’s success was the high-end construction of the hard surfaces, which included the strong architectural herringbone archways of the loggia, paving, walling and water feature.
For the main paving and brick wall, the PTA Landscapes’ construction team used Cotto terracotta bricks, which brought a real sense of warmth, history and tradition to the garden. For the stepping stones, they used custom-cut Arbon limestone with a sandblasted and brushed finish. Bodega natural sandstone walling was also employed, chosen for its soft creamy grey colour, tonal variation throughout and heavily-distressed aged finish, which perfectly highlighted the natural beauty of the stone.
The custom-built water feature, designed to evoke the idea of a working aqueduct, was comprised of a powdercoated black steel spout integrated into the top of one end of the loggia wall and a glass reinforced concrete water bowl with a hidden base.
Lighting also played an integral role. There was uplighting to the feature trees and archways, which highlighted the texture of the back walls at night. This was complemented by direction path lights and lights in the water feature.
As this was a garden designed to make you want to linger, seating was provided in the form of two understated black chairs. The chairs were ‘transparent’, ensuring the garden and water feature remained the focus, not the furniture. Adding a delightful touch was an art piece nestled in one corner – three traditional woven bee hives from Slovenia.
PTA Landscapes is an award-winning full-service landscaping company. To discover their full range of services and what they can do for your next landscaping project, visit their website or get in contact via the links below.