Arno KingHidden Design Festival comes to Brisbane

Hidden all around Australia are stunning gardens, designed, constructed and maintained by landscape professionals – gardens which are rarely seen, other than by their owners and friends. The Hidden Design Festival, Queensland showcases these gardens to the public. After two years of sell-out success in Sydney, Hidden is set to open here in Brisbane on Saturday 5 March 2016. If you love seeing high quality gardens and want to see the work of some of our top garden designers, you will not want to miss this event.

hidden 2016A total of six designer gardens and outdoor spaces will be on display, three in Brisbane’s western suburbs, two in Bulimba and one in Clayfield. These gardens are highly varied in design, location, size and design solutions. The garden locations are provided to the ticket holders closer to the event date and each of the designers will be in their gardens to answer your questions and ‘talk design’.

To whet your appetite, let’s have a quick look at these gardens and their designers. Three of the gardens are located in Brisbane’s western suburbs:

Stunning views out to the back garden. Design Clare James Landscape Design

Stunning views out to the back garden. Design Clare James Landscape Design

Clare James of Clare James Landscape Design produces work that’s well known to many Brisbane residents, being part of the team that recently won Gold and Best in Show for the stunning show garden at the Brisbane International Garden Show. Clare’s flair for planting design is well demonstrated in this secluded and private Taringa garden. Much of the garden is shaded by established trees and other plantings are located between sections of the house. I particularly like the interwoven planting of waterfall plant (Phyllanthus multiflorus) and the purple chinese fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense) located under the established jacaranda tree, and the use of climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) trained up the wire cables.

Timber sculpture in garden by Clare James Landscape Design

Timber sculpture in garden by Clare James Landscape Design

Clare noted that a lot of her focus over the last 5 years has been on replacing plants that have not been performing well or have died as well as incorporating compost and applying organic fertilisers.

Welcoming entry and paving detail by Define Landscape Architecture

Welcoming entry and paving detail by Define Landscape Architecture

Not too far away at Kenmore Hills is a stunning garden by Andrew Munro of Define Landscape Architecture. This garden seamlessly integrates this recently renovated house with its setting. Constructed only a year ago, the garden covers a sloping site which has been terraced, with paths and steps that provide easy access down to the creek and the shaded seating area.

View of the garden from upper deck Design by Define Landscape Architecture

View of the garden from upper deck Design by Define Landscape Architecture

Andrew collaborated with architect Shaun Lockyer and incorporated the stone and stepping stone pathways, feature pond and lighting. The garden is linked seamlessly with the house. The downstairs seating area is a relaxing place to listen to the falling water and the upstairs deck has beautiful views out over the garden with its lush leafy backdrop. Andrew’s plantings are well considered and define the various spaces.

Beautiful bushland garden Design Megan Roe Landscape Design Brisbane

Beautiful bushland garden Design Megan Roe Landscape Design Brisbane

A short drive away is a garden by Megan Roe of Megan Roe Landscape Design at Fig Tree Pocket. The garden is surrounded by bushland and this character is reflected in the garden, which utilizes exclusively native planting in the BCC water easement that forms the back half of this property. The garden slopes down to this attractive watercourse incorporating a series of steps, landings and pathways using local stone, recycled railways sleepers and shipping rope.

Using natural materials and water catchment sensitive design. Design Megan Roe Landscape Design Brisbane

Using natural materials and water catchment sensitive design. Design Megan Roe Landscape Design Brisbane

Ecxcellence in small garden design by Utopia Landscape Design, Brisbane

Ecxcellence in small garden design by Utopia Landscape Design, Brisbane

Two gardens are located close to one another in Bulimba.

Aaron Worth of Utopia Landscape Design is a talented landscape designer who has won gold awards in each of the last 3 years in the national AILDM awards. One of these award winners is this Hidden garden which illustrates what can be achieved on a smaller lot. The client brief was to provide a ‘living room in the garden’ and to extend the house outside. Aaron incorporated the deck; a raised stone seating area and planter; a laser cut feature arbour; feature light boxes; a fireplace; and an outdoor kitchen. Planting is lush and tropical, with bold leaves and flowers such as heliconias, cordylines, gingers and bromeliads.

Small garden with narrow pool. Design Utopia Landscape Design Brisbane

This small garden even fits in narrow pool. Design Utopia Landscape Design Brisbane

Located nearby on the Brisbane River is the second Hidden garden in Bulimba, designed and constructed, by Ben French  of Yards Landscaping. Another smaller site, the gardens surround the stunning house and truly amazing swimming pool.

Design Yards Landscaping Brisbane with spectacular riverside pool

Design Yards Landscaping Brisbane with spectacular riverside pool

The walls of the house slide back to really appreciate the home’s location. Ben’s work is focused in the rear garden and includes the lawn, sunken firepit and plantings located adjacent to some existing Dragon Trees (Dracaena draco). The owners are keen gardeners and you will spot many unusual plants, and of course all the plantings are very well nurtured.

Yards Landscaping - The firepit and lawn area

Yards Landscaping – The firepit and lawn area

In Clayfield, Natalie Watts of Branat Designs maintains a formal garden designed by the owner and Boss Greenscapes. This garden reflects the American architecture style of the house. The garden includes raised planters, stunning grey travertine paving, hedging and garden sculpture. The front garden includes plantings of Black (Tropical) Birch (Betula nigra) and Syzygium (Waterhousia) floribundum which provide screening and low Mock Orange hedging (Murraya paniculata ‘Min-a-min’) and Box balls (Buxus microphylla). The back garden has a tropical planting character with prominent plantings of Evergreen Frangipani (Plumeria obtusa), Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) and Giant Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai).

Garden maintained by Branat Designs. Garden design by owner and Boss Greenscapes

It’s great to see some of the design talent we have in Brisbane. Compared to many other capital cities, Brisbane owners and developers seem to be less discerning and to generally spend a much smaller percentage of their budgets on designing, building and maintaining gardens and outdoor spaces. These gardens demonstrate what can be achieved by getting assistance from professionals. Not only do you get a much better outcome, but you also avoid those expensive failures and poor outcomes. Garden design is a collaboration between the owners and the designer so the owners’ aspirations and taste are reflected in the outcomes of the design process.

Garden maintained by Branat Designs

Garden maintained by Branat Designs. Garden design by owner and Boss Greenscapes

The Hidden Design Festival is organized and managed by the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers (AILDM). Proceeds from this event go to the nominated charity Hummingbird House, Queensland’s only children’s hospice, which is currently under construction and will be directed towards developing their new garden areas.

Having visited most of the gardens myself, I would recommend readers mark the date in the diary and purchase tickets as soon as possible. I’m sure you will have a wonderful day and be inspired by the hidden gardens on display.

Tickets for entrance to all 6 Hidden gardens on 5 March 2016 cost $33.00 and can be purchased from the website at Hidden Design Festival.

[NOTE – there will also be a third Hidden Design Festival in Sydney and environs in early April 2016]

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Arno King

About Arno King

Landscape architect, horticulturist, journalist and keen gardener, Arno is a regular contributor to Subtropical Gardening Magazine. Based in Brisbane, Arno grows a wide diversity of unusual plant species and has particular interests in growing edible plants in creative settings and biological and organic gardening. Brisbane, Queensland

3 thoughts on “Hidden Design Festival comes to Brisbane

  1. I assume there the same as Melbourne’s Designfest, which is if you have the time one of the best ways to spend a weekend. I Hope they have good weather.

  2. candice52 on said:

    Thanks for another very well researched feature Arno … wishing Hidden Brisbane the best success !!

  3. Rachel on said:

    The firepit installed next to the river is a great idea. The whole ‘fire and ice’ type feel comes to mind.

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