Melbourne-based landscape architect, Nathan Burkett was awarded a Show Garden Gold Medal at the recent Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS) awards for his garden installation for the event.

Burkett’s award winning boutique garden display, ‘Equilibrium’, which sees traditionally ‘hard’ landscaping elements swapped out for softer, natural versions, was on display as part of the MIFGS which will rounded up on March 29.

Burkett and his construction team also took out the Mark Bence Construction Award at the MIFGS breakfast ceremony held on Wednesday, named among a host of landscape designers, garden consultants, horticulturalists and budding student florists who also received MIFGS awards across the program’s 17 categories.

Like a lot of the other installations, Burkett’s contribution to the five day event wasn'tjust about flowers—it has many architectural elements.  One standout feature of the design is the cantilevered Burnt Ash timber arbor that wraps the garden’s perimeter and frames the colourful plants, another is the oversized fireplace that is finished in a robust concrete render and contrasts those same plants.  

The Ficus Hillii hedging, ‘living pergola’ plane trees and selected other plantings came from Warner’s Nurseries. Woodform Architectural supplied the Burnt Ash Timber arbor and timber detailing around the fire pit and garden beds.

Along with the timber detailing around the fire pit and garden beds (also Burnt Ash) and the stone paving sections, all of Burkett’s manmade additions act to contrast the real “heroes” of his design, the garden’s living elements.

In the centre of the garden was a custom-designed fire pit that Burkett designed and built himself. The pit was framed by two perennial garden beds which gave the space symmetry and structure all the while injecting colour to break up the formality of the surrounding features.

The concrete wall-finish (background) was a custom job by Sky High Renders while the stone paving came from Anston Architectural Paving and was finished by Prestige Surfaces.

The garden’s real heroes however were the ‘living pergolas’, mature deciduous Plane Trees whose foliage has been grown over a five year period through trellised wires. Standing approximately three metres tall, the plants mimicked an organic roof structure and returned to Burkett’s theme of swapping out ‘hard’ elements for softer, natural elements in landscape design.

Gardens at Night provided the custom garden lights while the decking is the 'no nail' range from Turnley Timbers.

As Burkett explains:     

 “We have used an abundance of greenery and plantings in the garden to create structure and symmetry, which in turn allows us to deliver an architectural aesthetic in a soft, welcoming setting,” he says. 

“This garden sees a return to using greenery and plantings as the true hero of the space, to create a unique garden atmosphere rather than the more ‘hard’ landscaped gardens which have dominated some of the previous years.

“The garden is soft with movement and organic elements, while still recreating my signature aesthetic of symmetry and clean, crisp lines.

Photography by John Wheatley