First Impression

Words by Heidi Bertish


“Seven meters wide by twenty-five meters long- the available space with which we had to work was a small, narrow strip, awkwardly positioned between a sizable double story home on the one side and sloping driveway on the other,” explains Landscape Architect Tirzah Stubbs. The main objective was for the entrance garden to exist as a separate entity in order to make the most of that vital first impression- and for the scale to be generous enough to balance the large family home. “If space allows, it works well to separate pedestrian and vehicle access with planting low hedges and hardy perennials,” says Tirzah. Even simply using different surfacing for cars and people creates impact and avoids the front garden looking like a parking area.



The Third Dimension

“Creating a counter point to the scale of the double story home was vital,” says Tirzah. Height and volume were introduced here by planting lines of tall Mop Head Robinia trees (Robinia pseudoacacia inerme) immediately creating a masterful foil to the large home. This versatile tree with a naturally topiarised canopy and clean stem makes for a handsome entrance statement, whilst the soft branches and leaves bring a delicacy to the look. A great option for small spaces because the size of the tree canopy can be easily controlled with trimming.


In the Rhythm

Visual impact is so often heightened by the repetition of select elements within your design,” says Tirzah. Here her philosophy has been applied to both planting and up-scaled stepping ‘pads’- the latter cast on site and finished with white cement screed and Malmesbury sand. Planted groups of aromatic, blue-grey Teucrium fruticans have been clipped into domes and repeated in combination with Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’, Agapanthus nana and Heliotrope, bringing rhythm and movement to the space. Add the symmetrical placement and repetition of the upright Robinia tree trunks and one has the winning formula for a dramatic approach on entry.


Design Reference

The retaining wall- so often an unsightly necessity in a garden, has been positioned here between sloping driveway and front access to the home. By referencing details from the home such as the cement moulding, colour and style it becomes instead an integral design element adding to the impact of the overall scheme. “I wanted to acknowledge the architectural vernacular as well as the style of the owners with the landscape detailing and plant palette,” explains Tirzah. Clipped Murraya exotica hedging, planted hard up against the wall, disguises and softens. “By mirroring the hedging on the opposite wall, I was hoping to unify the design formality and drive the drama of the space. The walls of the home were then dressed with fragrant climbing roses for a wonderful perfume on arrival.”




Little Black Book

Design by Landscape Architect, Tirzah Stubbs

Landscape installation Heimo Schulzer at

All plants available at nurseries and garden centers countywide


Images: Heid Bertish