Phillip WithersDesigning a beach garden

I started designing and pottering about in this beachside garden a couple of years ago now. It is dear to my heart, as it’s a garden that I am lucky enough to call home every so often when I have a few days off, or the holiday period allows it.
Looking across the front garden. Beach house Toquay. Design Phillip Withers

Looking across the front garden – repeating the undulating landform of beach sand dunes. Beach house Toquay. Garden design by Phillip Withers, Melbourne

The beach house is set on the wonderful and relaxed shores of Torquay and what was previously a holiday home has now become my parents’ residence and a rather handy playground for me to try different things. So although the pictures you will see at this stage are the bones, I feel that this garden may just become even more special than it already is, and a story I may come back to from time and time.

Natural winding path. Beach garden Torquay. Design Phillip Withers

Natural winding path. Beach garden Torquay. Garden design Phillip Withers, Melbourne

The garden started with a quest for something that emulated the region, the beautiful nearby beach. I wanted it to feel like you have just walked up the steps of the boardwalk and into a place called home, and where the colours , plants and flowers had a natural feel. I also wanted it to become one with the contemporary architecture and match it with its hints of funk in the garden.

Front garden beach house Torquay. Design Phillip Withers

Front garden beach house Torquay. Garden design Phillip Withers, Melbourne

In the front garden we looked to create a layout that was like a feeling of walking through sand dunes, with winding natural paths leading you through to the back gates on both sides. Rocks were used both to retain and to be markers – sculptural accents of the rustic land. There is mix of smaller rock and sandy mulch on the surface to echo the coastal sand, although we may look to introduce a mix of sand and mulch over time to get an even closer match to the area. There is also a sweeping curve through the centre to mirror the flow of water; this may be enhanced, with time, to reveal a boat….time will tell I guess…

Austrostipa grasses pick up the gold of the setting sun.

Austrostipa grasses pick up the gold of the setting sun. Garden design Phillip Withers, Melbourne

The plants we used in the front is just a starting point, and something I can’t wait to build upon. The essentials have been introduced and we can see the tall grasses starting to make a statement in the wind (Austrostipa stipiodes), with some furry height and texture change to the rear with woolly bush, Adenanthos sericea. We have started to add some muted, natural colour through the golden buttons Chrysocephelum apiculatum and some standout architectural planting with scattered grass trees (Xanthorrhoea johnsonii). Oh, and if you are wondering where all the succulents are, don’t worry, as they’re next on the list…

Plant textures and subtle colour from Chrysocephalum Beach garden, Torquay. Design Phillip Withers

Plant textures and subtle colour from golden buttons, Chrysocephalum apiculatum. Beach garden, Torquay. Garden design Phillip Withers, Melbourne

The front garden needed to stand up tall and match the architecture with its height, so the sand dunes help to link the landscape to the building, which was vital from the get go.

Castlemaine slate paving Beach garden, Torquay. Design Phillip Withers

Castlemaine slate paving Beach garden, Torquay. Garden design Phillip Withers, Melbourne

The back garden follows the same trend as the front, with its sweeping paths through the sand dunes that link through to spaces for entertainment and general use, such as the large Castlemaine slate paving area, with its natural edges blending in and making it feel likes it’s part of the land. 

The back garden also has lawn tucked around the corner for play and its next stage will be to add a beach hut to the back corner that will rise above the garden and create a sitting area so you can look over, and be part of, the beachside.
So this is just a glance at this garden in its early stages. I look forward to reporting back on its progress at a later date…

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Phillip Withers

About Phillip Withers

Phillip started his design through more art based development studying a Diploma in Arts at RMIT. He was then drawn to garden design through garden maintenance and construction, studying a Diploma in Landscape Design and Sustainability at Swinburne University. He started Phillip Withers Landscape Design and has been lucky enough to create 3 show gardens in different forms, from achievable, to student, to professional. He has also taught Computer Aided Design with Kangan Institute and now Swinburne University. Phil is also a keen traveller and believes that it is the key to keeping design interesting…

4 thoughts on “Designing a beach garden

  1. This garden gives such a sense of place, Philip! I look forward to following its evolution under your care. I wonder if your edging material is timber or metal?

  2. Hi Phillip

    I have been following your work for a while now, and i love what you do, when I look at your creations I know that you have a passion for plants and nature, and I love how you use more interesting plant combinations.
    Hope to see lots more

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