Customer Profiles Archives - Kilby Park Tree Farm

Industry Insider – Ben Harris Gardens

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We spoke with up and coming landscape designer and water garden specialist,
Ben Harris of Ben Harris Gardens about what makes him tick.

Ben Harris

Ben Harris

How would you describe your design style?
Natural and elegant simplicity

What’s your design philosophy?
I’m very much inspired by Japanese design principles of balance, simplicity, asymmetry, natural form and curves, taking the best bits nature has to offer and putting it all together to create a unique, informal garden.

What’s the driving force for your designs?
To try and make things better, and give people a reason to believe the world is a nice place to be. More green space is always a good thing!

What do you wish there were more of in Australian gardens?
I’d love to see more homes being built around and ‘grounded’ by gardens;
not the other way around. Aside from that, I’d like to see more greenery, less concrete, and more people getting outside.

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Do you have a favourite project?
A lovely client in Blackburn wanted a native garden that saved water and had a pond. I hadn’t worked with water features before and she was good enough to let me take a shot at it. It was such a great experience, a really collaborative process with the client and we worked on the project together. I came back a few weeks after it was finished and she was busy looking after it, it was great to see them interacting with it and taking care of it.

Where do you see Ben Harris Gardens in 10 years time?
It’s my name on the business, so it’s me who’s going to deliver that garden. I like the idea of creating more but staying small so I can have my own hands on all the work, from conception to construction. I just want to keep creating – doing more native gardens, more cottage gardens and more water do you look to for inspiration?
I recently went to the Grampians and just spent a lot of time looking at the natural flow of all the elements.
I attended a water feature conference on a work trip to Chicago – it’s always great sharing ideas with likeminded people. And I’m hoping to get to Japan as soon as I can.

What do you hope your designs do?
To me, a good garden gives people a reason to go outside and enjoy it. My gardens are designed to be used, connected with and enjoyed. That’s when I know I’ve done my job really well.

Want more info on Ben’s work?
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A classic remodeling of a front garden by Qdos Design

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Heath Lang of Qdos Landscapes is a bit of a stickler for quality. His high standards run right through from purchasing plants and materials to the installation and finishing of his work.

For the front garden of this Edwardian home in Elwood, the owners wanted a simple but elegant design with a definite focal point. Attention to detail was crucial. Heath used the front path as a design feature, forming a Vee shape and drawing the eye to the urn and pedestal. The Murraya hedge will add structure to the garden as it matures, and the specimen planting of Magnolia ‘Kay Parris’ and Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’ will give height, colour and seasonal interest, as well as defining the boundaries. Liriope line the edge of the paving, and as they grow and spread they will soften the boundary between the hard and soft elements of the design and connect the various elements.Its nice to see one of my favourite plants, Helleborus orientalis (Winter Rose) used in the urn.

Heath choose Ashlar patterned Bluestone pavers with beveled edges. These are edged with 7mm Seymour pebble. This gives a clean, sophisticated look with the pebble edging offering a defining contrast. The paving is continued down the side of the house where the border has been planed with Betula pedula ‘Fastigiata’, the upright Silver Birch, under-planted with Arthropodium cirhhatum (NZ Rock Lily) . The sheltered position is ideal for growing both the plants, and the beautiful white trunks of the birch will contrast nicely with the mid-green Arthropodium and the dark grey of the paving. As ever, simplicity of design and quality installation are the key to success.


All work was carried out by Qdos Landscape, including construction of the picket fence, paving and installation of the urn and pedestal. All planting was selected and installed by Heath and his team. If you want to contact Heath, you call him on 0425733741 or email


Beauty and formality in a Kew garden

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Amber Biesse, of The Tinshed Group, recently completed a redesign for a large front garden in Kew. Here she talks about the brief, some constraints, and her solution;

The symmetry of the house underpinned the design for this garden.  My design sketches started with a generous central path leading from the street to the front door and a secondary path leading from the driveway to the side entrance – this then created the spaces for planting.  Along with symmetry my main goal was that my garden design needed to look equally good from the outside framing the facade as it did from the inside looking out.

The property had a convenant that the front fence must be no higher than 760mm so I therefore opted to have a hedge of Ficus Flash, which in time will provide a solid screen between the street and house.  For continuity the Ficus Flash is used for all perimeter planting.  The Ficus Flash is also planted between the driveway and main garden.  This again in time will provide a solid screen between the hard surface of the driveway and the outlook from the windows of the two front rooms.  From the front facade the ficus also softens the hard element of the modern black garage box and also successfully ties the modern garage with the period facade through consistent planting.

In the main garden I have then planted a layer of Ornamental Pears as ‘feature’ trees which will grow higher than the Ficus hedge providing further screening and a seasonal difference in the garden.  I particularly love the Autumn colours and Spring blossom.  The pears are underplanted with white flowering Liriope.

A row of Gardenias line the central path and border the grass.

The two garden beds under the two front windows are identical, continuing the symmetry of the garden and provide a lovely outlook for the two front rooms.  A thick hedge of Murraya sits under the windows.  When these are in flower the perfume is incredible and with the front windows open the scent will float through the house, along with providing a lovely perfumed entrance and a lovely lush green outlook from the two front windows.  Little Gem is used as a feature tree in the centre of the remaining garden bed and are bordered by two layers of English Box.  In time the Little Gem will grow taller and provide further scale to the very tall front facade along with ‘sitting’ nicely either side of the entrance.

The overall result is a beautiful, balanced, symmetrical garden that compliments the facade, provides a lovely entrance to the home and softens the hard element of the modern garage box.  The garden also provides privacy from the street and an equally beautiful ‘view’ from the inside looking out from the front rooms.

Amber Biesse

You can contact Amber here

Kilby Tree Farm and Urbaneco’s ‘human nest’

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‘ It really is about nesting, nurturing, time out, sanctuary, nature connection…. ‘

This is the inspiration behind Urbaneco Australia’s 2012 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS) entry.  Taking the idea of nesting as a starting point, Charlie Evans and his team have created an urban sanctuary in human scale. Central to the design is a human ‘nest’, a wooden form that envelopes the lucky inhabitant. The form swings from a steel ribbon that snakes its way through the landscape. Changes in topography, and clever use of planting, reinforce the feeling of connection to the environment. As Charlie says ‘ I want the shape to be nestled completely in planting to get the effect of a real sanctuary. ‘ The landforms are also key to the creation of a space that is welcoming, protecting and nurturing.

The planting is restrained, focusing on shape and movement. Grasses and perennials have been chosen to create a meadow-like setting. The main drama comes from some beautiful tall smoke trees, Cotinus x obovata ‘Grace’. These give height and form without bulk. The stunning foliage colour ties in with the some of the harder elements – wood, steel and stone.  Waterhouseas and Eleaocarpus are used to delineate and encompass the area, giving a soft, green vertical element to contrast the changes in height and shapes in the horizontal planes. A low wall also plays across the space, it’s curved outline echoing the slopes and mounds of the ground.

Urbaneco Australia are a multi-award winning company, whose work has been shown both in Australia and overseas. Kilby Park Tree Farm is very proud to be principle sponsors for their stunning 2012 MIFGS design. Read more about Urbaneco Australia here.