One of the easiest ways of creating that outdoor living space in your garden or on your balcony is to think of creating an outdoor living room.
In most homes, this outdoor living room is created just outside the main door out to the garden. And so the space is really an extension of the house.
It’s often not a very large space. This is why nearly all of the exhibition gardens in the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show focused on creating an outdoor room for one use or another. The fact that Australians live outside for much of the year and think of this outside space as an extension of the house also helped.
So, how big an area do you need to live in?
The answer is as long as a piece of string, but, as you can imagine, the smaller the space, the fewer activities which can be accommodated.
The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show exhibition gardens gave us some great examples.
The Debco Affordable Gardens
The smallest spaces were to be found in the Debco stand. Debco manufactures and distributes premium potting mixes, soil conditioners and mulches to both the wholesale and retail plant nursery industry. The Debco Achievable Garden exhibition was open to students from colleges studying horticulture and landscape design.
Because of the small space, most created a chill-out space for a couple of cushions and book or class of wine. This was a common theme throughout the Show.
Everlasting Companion by Cara Hinsley
The small hanging deck/bench with cushions and wine sits in a garden. Space has been given to the rainwater tank, cleverly used also as a raised bed for vegetables and herbs.
Modern Living in the Victorian Bush by Ben Hutchinson
The small triangular deck with cushions nestles in the garden.
Romance that’s Out of this World by Wada Tankovich
The bench nestled in a garden created out of a carefully thought out selection of pots.
The Student Gardens
These gardens were put together by landscape architecture students and were bigger and more sophisticated.
I think that probably ‘Eden’ by Ross Ubergang displays the best of the feel that came out of this group. A daybed is the focal point of the outdoor room. A small coffee table and stools with wine glasses put the more serious side of outdoor entertaining into perspective.
I love the Gothic feel of this outdoor living area.
The Main Landscape Gardens
Those gardens that created the outdoor living room, all focused on an outdoor eating area. Not with kitchen, but with pergola or covered area for dining table. In many cases other uses were added to give that whole living area feel.
Paarl Grant’s ‘Conversation’ is a case in point.
The outdoor eating area is tucked away under a covered pergola with lighting and cushions to make it welcoming.
But this is a conversation garden, so there is an informal lounge on the next terrace curved around a spectacular fireball to welcome that last glass of wine or coffee on a cool evening.
Marnie Lewis designed this garden to reinterpret a Scandinavian forest retreat.
The dining area under the covered pergola is great for lazy lunch or dinner. I love the shaky chairs.
The bath in front of the fire place and stools is even greater for that romantic evening.
In his ‘Spare Change’ garden, Jason Hodges is trying to show that all this can be achieved with very little budget. Most of the garden came from things that had been thrown out.
As with the other outdoor rooms, the focus is the covered dining area.
This is a bigger garden though and shows a lounge area around a fire pit.
And a cubby for the kids.
All of these gardens will be discussed in other blogs focusing on other trends and points of interest that arose from the Show.