On becoming a shop snob and DIY as therapy.

Girls room.

With the benefit of Instagram filters.

Having just survived a sleepover party for six almost-10-years-old girls, the only thing I can do this afternoon is laze on the sofa.    The second Little Pig and I glammed up her room a bit with some matching doona covers.  I ordered them online since I’ve had no time to shop.  That was a mistake.  While the doonas themselves are quite lovely, they are not the colour that they appear online (nor in the hard copy advertising of the product sent along with my order).  So the various pinks in the room clash.

Doona cover.

New doona cover, modelled by Evita.

The Nice Wolf says I should have learned by now.  Helpful.  I’ll probably do it again.  I’m afraid I’ve developed shop snobbery, an unpleasant side effect of several years of online interiors “research”.  There’s only one local shop that satisfies my snobbery, so if I can’t find it at Frisky Deer, I look online. There is the argument that buying better quality products than the average Kmart product may pay off in the long term, but when it comes to bed linen I’m not sure that it’s true.  I pick on Kmart because I recently got all excited over Kmart’s new industrial style lockers.  Just what I was searching for to put in my son’s room.  The excitement ended as soon as I saw the product, so small and looking as though it would barely make the trip home let alone stand up to the hardship of housing a 6 year old boy’s daily clothes.

Shop snobbery is an expensive addiction that I’m trying to control.  To curb my habit, I’ve taken up some DIY.  Inspired and instructed by Maya from House Nerd, I dared to drill a hole in a brand new wall.  At first, I thought I was no good at it, but then Nice Wolf replaced my inferior drill piece included in a kit, with a decent drill piece and away I went.

 

Bathroom hooks.

Bathroom hooks.

I was on a roll with 3 wall hooks mounted, only to be halted by some electric wires.  According to my wire detector, my whole wall around my bed head is filled with electric wires!  Exactly where I want to put a bracket for my much-loved pendant light.   Back to the drawing board.

Not to be defeated, I took up rendering.  With a couple of YouTube lessons and some advice from the Nice Wolf under my belt, I set about to hide the neighbour’s brick fence.   The Nice Wolf made me a concrete mix in the mixer.  He was laying cobblestones (forever….) while I rendered the wall.  I donned some gloves, put the grouting gizmos (technical term) in my hands and hoped for the best.

 

I am not a perfectionist.  Some may shiver at my amateur efforts, but I am rather pleased with this wall so far.  I plan to paint the wall once the rainy days disappear, then plant a row of pleached pears or lilly pillies in front.

The professional landscapers installed our outdoor lights.  They look WOW!  They bloody well should, too.  (Dad, cover your eyes…)  They cost $7000, or about $500 a pop, on average.  My night time photography is blah, but trust me that my 3 coastal banksias, lit up at night, look fantastic and as for the copper step lights?   See for yourself.

We are, as always, progressing slowly.  I really, really, really hope that next time I blog, our landscapers, Tim Davis Landscaping, will be finished their scope of work.  They still have the pool to finish, a couple of fences to install, a bench seat to deck and a few bits of tidying up to go.  Honestly, they’ve been incredibly slow.  I can’t blame them in this rainy weather, but they did start last December.

Landscaping slowgress.

Snail’s pace is the only way to describe it.  The current rate of  work seems to be one job per month.

Hardscaping progress.

Current state. Work in progress (occasionally).

  • December- deck.
  • January – glass fence
  • February- remove scaffolding over pool.
  • March- concrete around pool
  • April – start tiling, concrete roof of storage area.
TDL plan

Landscape plan by Tim Davies Landscaping.

The grand plan for landscaping on our canal and pool side was conjured up 3 years ago.  We were wooed by smart landscaping around display homes and the existing relationship between our builder Webb and Brown-Neaves and Tim Davies Landscaping.  We decided to pay the big bucks for a clever design and for the luxury of not having to find and co-ordinate trades to make a pool, concrete, lay tiles, build a deck, install fences, etc.  Turns out the experts also have trouble finding and co-ordinating trades and so it has been a sloooww going.

To keep within some sort of budget, we kept at least half of our garden space to landscape ourselves, plus all the planting preparation and planting because that really shouldn’t be rocket science.  There is a lot to be done, so we are breaking it into chunks and trying to set some reasonable goals for completion time.  I really want the canal-side planter boxes to be filled before Winter.

I’ve been having an internal debate about whether the planting should be massed rows, or “randomly artistic”.  I can argue either way.  I am so inspired by modern coastal gardens designed by the likes of Peter Fudge and Fiona Brockhoff:

Fiona Brockhoff coastal garden

Fiona Brockhoff Design

Peter Fudge modern garden

Peter Fudge Gardens

The apparently random planting on the very impressive Esperance foreshore and good ol’ mother nature herself in Australia’s south-west on our recent holiday had me convinced that “au naturale” was the way to go.

Esperance park

City of Esperance, stunning foreshore development.

Coastal garden Esperance.

Coastal garden inspiration.

In the end, I’m going for the easier option and the one that was originally intended for our landscape design, rows and repetition.  (Don’t try to talk me out of it!  I’ve changed my mind daily for the past month.)

I’m about to head off to the Perth Garden Festival, but a few pictures of our current DIY landscaping progress.  (Yes, equally slow to progress.)

Front entrance.

The Nice Wolf did a stella job constructing our “jetty” front entrance.  (Front door is still to be replaced.)

Mum and Dad at work.

My Mum and Dad love a good day’s work in the garden.

Planter box.

My Dad moved the lion’s share of a truck load of dirt from our front yard to this giant planter box at the back.

Dianella.

I had the fun of the first plantings. Dianella.

 

Sweet dreams, new bed.

Since we last talked, I’ve been sleeping on a lovely new bed!  We ordered an “Iris Dunes” bed from Snooze.  They are made to order, in Australia, so I asked for the bed head shape to be varied from the wavy version in the show room.  I think it looks excellent!

Luxury!

Luxury!

It’s a little bit wide for the mattress, or is the mattress a little narrow for the bed?  Both are King sized and both are from Snooze, so it’s a bit annoying that the slats are visible on the sides. After waiting 3 months for the bed, I can’t bare to send it back to be modified…

More on the master bedroom soon…. (Freedom have a furniture sale this weekend, so I have plans…  Plus, I need to ‘fess up to a Pottery Barn curtain disaster.)

Roller blinds.

Charcoal light-filtering blinds.

Blinds.

Blinds up.

The living room blinds arrived and were masterfully installed by a pleasant fellow from Kresta blinds.  One wall of blinds were not measured accurately, so they need to be sent back to QLD for recutting.  (Note to self: do not chat with sales lady when she is trying to take measurements.)  I was a bit nervous that my dark choice of roller blind would look out of place on our light walls, but I’m very happy with how they look.  In fact, they are more pleasant looking than our fairly ordinary window frames.  I’m currently typing in our living room, without wearing sunglasses, which is a plus.

 Concrete pool surround.

 The landscapers concreted around our pool in preparation for tiles.  The rate of landscaping progress is excruciatingly slow.  Luckily, I’m well trained in patiently waiting for trades to arrive.  It’s going to be great when it’s finished.  You just need long range vision.

Aunty Kate (a.k.a. my sister and unqualified, highly-opinionated interiors advisor) is currently in residence.  Possibly sleeping off the latest feast on the deck.  Of course, I was aiming to impress her.  This called for a quick stock up of flowers and greenery from Frisky Deer and a whirlwind cleaning spree.  You can imagine that the effect lasted only minutes with the Three Little Pigs around, but I made sure to snap a few pics as proof that House By The Water was momentarily clean.

  

In any case, Aunty Kate has given the official thumbs-up to House By The Water with one exception.   The purple blue blind in the powder room.  Remember the interesting powder room door?  It has clear glass.   Perfect for sitting on the loo and waving to the neighbours.  A bit of a blunder with the building addenda.  Various solutions are still being thrown about, but in the mean time, the Handy Wolf and I picked up a cheapie roller blind from Masters for self installation.  It was inky blue in the shop, without any sun behind it.  It’s vibrant purple in our powder room.

Featuring purple!

Featuring purple!

 

The “to do” list right now seems quite impossible, but with this as our regular dinner time view, how could we complain?  

Cheers!  And happy Easter!

Me!

“The hostess @housebythewater”.  Photo by Aunty Kate.

 

Would you let your husband choose tiles? Alone?

Note from wife sign.

Photo source: unknown.

Up until this week The Nice Wolf (a.k.a. husband) has been too busy to get involved in the minor details of House By The Water.  He’s left all the interior decisions to me and many of the other decisions too.  An ideal situation, as far as I’m concerned.  Well, The Nice Wolf is now on holidays and has been busying himself with thoughts of reticulation, hanging cray pots from the ceiling, cobblestones and many other future DIY projects.  He’s been popping past House By The Water to act as liaison between myself and our landscapers and to submit a daily report on the head count of tradespeople on site.

And yes, he had to bring a note from his wife in order to make a tile selection.

Pool tiles.

Pool tile samples were duly brought home for my approval.

More about that head count.  It has been exceptionally high this week.  Webb and Brown-Neaves and related contractors have been pulling out all stops in order to get the keys to us next week.  On top of that, our landscapers, Tim Davies Landscaping, have started work.

Here is just some of what has been happening:

The lights were installed:

The painters have been inside and Kitty Grey is looking very pretty:

The tiling and stonework is just about finished:

The robes were installed:

Sinks, tapware, shower screens and mirrors (not shown) were installed:

Work on the deck began:

Jarrah decking.

Deck in progress.

Behind the scenes we’ve been booking in the wood fire and floor installers, connecting the internet and phone and ordering the council-supplied bins.  In a very pleasant twist of events, we received a variation notice from the builders giving us an $11.5K credit for site works.  Yep, you read it correctly.  Credit.  Yippee!   (Skipping all the way to the cobblestone shop….)

Looks like I’d better start chilling that wine.

2015 – The year of the house

I’m very excited about 2015.  It’s the year we’re going to have a house. I feel spoiled rotten to be able to say that.

We are going to go from this:

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“Plate high” in December.

 

to this:

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The grand plan for “House by the Water”. Image by Tim Davies Landscaping.

It’s not just about having walls and a roof of our own, it’s about having a home where we can stay put a while and develop roots.  I’m excited that my children will be able to have that as they approach their teenage years.

But before I get too sentimental, let me tell you about activity on our house in December.

  • The bricklayers reached “plate high”, meaning that the ground floor brickwork is complete.
  • The laundry and powder room floor tiles and splash back tiles that I selected almost one year ago have been discontinued.  I’m embracing the reselection process as an opportunity!  (There’s potential for a third blog post about splash backs, going for a blogging world record.)
  • The oven and microwave I selected are also discontinued, but happily not much brain power was required to accept their replacements.
  • I received our first “construction schedule”.  I’m very pleased with this, mostly because it gives me a good idea about all the tasks that need to be done and the order, but also because it matches my idea of timing for the house to be complete.  Readers who picked early October in the Guess the handover date competition, it’s looking good for you!
  • I purchased our fireplace and it arrived it Perth, bringing with it my first taste of the hassles associated with “owner-supplied items”.  The vendor will only store it for 60 days, but the builders will not have the house ready for it until later.  Problem 1:  storage.  Problem 2: getting it to the building site once the builders are ready.  Problem 3:  neither the vendor nor our builders will install it.  Problem 4:  amateur hack trying to co-ordinate multiple parties from afar.  (That’s me.)

And on a fluffier note, I’m still basking in the sunshine that was our holiday to Peru.  Every moment was fascinating. It was such a surprise to not only be blown away by amazing views, but also by the freshness and colour of everyday life, especially in the rural areas.  The people were friendly and the food was healthy, innovative and delicious.  It’s hard to fathom that an existence so different to our life in Brazil lies within the same continent.  My girls had a marvellous time purchasing cheap textile gifts from the markets and we bought a beautiful throw and a floor rug to remember the local alpacas and talented weavers.

Gallery

Top 40 homes and gardens.

To end a month of celebrations and self indulgence, I’m sharing my Top 40 favourite pictures of homes and gardens.  I thought it would be a cinch to post my favourite pics, but it has actually taken me all month to pull this together.  I’ve included all the links to the photo sources, so if you see something you like, click a little further and you’ll often find pictures of the whole house.  When you get to the end, leave a comment to let me know which photo you like the best.

Top 5 Houses that I just keep coming back to look at:

  1. Previously rentable via One Fine Stay, this New York apartment was renovated by Athena Calderone from Eye Swoon.
  2. A little on the sparse side, but I imagine this house to be very similar to HBTW once we put timber floors in.   Somewhere between the extremes of the house above and this one is where I’d like to see HBTW’s aesthetic lie.

    Amalfi Residence by Bayden Goddard Design Architects.  Source:  Home DSGN

    Amalfi Residence by Bayden Goddard Design Architects. Source: Home DSGN.

  3. An irresistible entrance and home amongst the trees.  This house says “Australia” to me.

    Storrs Road Residence by Tim Stewart Architects.  Source:  Home DSGN.

  4. Bondi home with a beach vibe, without being obvious.  I love the splashes of blue with white and wood. The brick walls are original.

    Source:  Trends Ideas.

    5.  And, if I wasn’t starting with a new build – I’d want a warehouse, or a barn to convert.  This Amsterdam loft conversion is just the ticket:

    Picture source: Vosges Paris.

 

5 Best of the West.

For more details and pictures of all 5 of these Western Australian homes, check out one of my favourite blogs:  House Nerd.

  1. Cambuild’s “light, white, wood-filled house“.  Inside and out, I’ll take one of these, please.

    Photos by Joel Barbitta of D-MAX Photography.

    Photos by Joel Barbitta of D-MAX Photography.

  2. The “rustic modern house“:

    A new house with character.  Photos by:

    A new house with character. Photos by: Joel Barbitta at D-MAX Photography.

  3. Jeremy’s house was designed around a marri tree and some special needs.  I wish all kids with special needs could have a house like this.Jeremy's house
  4. The Old Stone Farmhouse is a piece of rural Australian history.  It’s filled with goodies old and new, many of which you can purchase on the owner’s website, Cranmore Home.

    The Old Stone Farmhouse.

    Photo by Sally Mills.

  5. House Nerd has a special radar for interesting houses.  This spacious living area was once a church.

    Photographs by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

    Photographs by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

Top 5 Kitchens from around the world.

  1. One from South Africa:

    Unrestricted by safety regulations!

    Unrestricted by safety regulations!  Source: Home Adore.

  2. Norway:
    Norwegian kitchen.

    Natural light galore and a neutral pallet. Source: Planet Deco.

    3.  France:

    Old mill kitchen.

    19th century oil mill. Source: One Kind Design.

    4.  Canada:

    Canadian kitchen.

    Old meets new in a light and homely kitchen.  Source: Sophie Burke Design.

    5.  And, the United States of America:

LA kitchen

My size kitchen bench.  Room for the whole family.  Jenni Kayne’s Los Angeles kitchen found on Architectural Digest.

Top 5 Backyards

  1. This garden by Tim Davies Landscaping belongs to the original “Rubix” display house – our house plan.
  2. There’s so much I love about this Melbourne back yard; the decking, the timber “soldiers”, the pizza oven, the brickwork, all designed around the tree.  
  3. From Punta del Este, in South America, my ideal outdoor kitchen and dining room.

  4. With similar “back yard” space to us, this Sydney yard has always stuck in my mind.  The fish pond and pool connected by a “jetty” is such a unique touch.

  5. This garden is in the U.S., but it would look equally at home in Australia.  Rust for the outback, big trees for the bush.  

5 rooms I love.

  1. Sofa ✔ timber floors ✔ single grey wall ✔ art made from material ✔.
  2. A master bedroom that manages to be light and moody all at the same time.
    Bedroom.

    Source: Lonny.

    3.  Probably any room from this house could make it onto my Top 5.  Check out the whole house, it’s full of nice surprises.  The stand outs for me are the art, the large windows and the floral additions.

    Mill house open living

    Remodelled mill house. Source: One Kind Design.

    4.  I like my light and I like my trees… you might need high fencing between neighbours for this one.  The house to which this bathroom belongs is probably not what you’d expect.

    Transparent bathroom.

    Source: Mi Casa.

    5.  A delightfully welcoming hallway:

     

    Top 5 “Australian-made” showcases

  1. Mark and Louella Tuckey’s home, filled with Mark Tuckey‘s Australian made furniture and relics from an Aussie life.

  2. Jan Juc house showing off custom made cabinetry and Aussie-made sofas.

    Source: House Awards

    Source: House Awards.

  3. This award winning Australian house was met with mixed feedback in its unfurnished state.  I think the view speaks for itself.  Here it looks modern and homely with Australian-made furniture from Domayne:Domayne Furniture.
  4. Inspired by and built into the sand dunes near 13th Beach, this house is a beautiful work of art.

  5. Have I already mentioned that I love Melbourne?  Fitzroy is the place to be.  Australia’s answer to New York’s loft conversions.  So cool.

    Source:  Home Adore.

    Source: Home Adore.

 

Top 5 “By The Water” houses

  1. My kind of beach house.  Relaxed.

    On the New South Wales Coast.  Source:  Desire to Inspire.

  2. A villa in Majorca.

    Source:  Planet Deco.

  3. Not your average display home….

    Pacific view.

    Apartment display suite at Bondi Beach. Source: SJB architects.

  4. Jaw-droppingly beautiful grounds on the Mexican coast:

    Photo source: Freshome.

  5. Somewhat extravagant, but I could do it if I had to:

    Sydney knows how to do water views.  Source:  Home Adore.

    Sydney knows how to do water views. Source: Home Adore.

Top 5 spaces for “my next life”.

  1. As a child I will grow up in this bedroom:

  2. I will, of course, be French!

    French home.

    Source: AD Design File.

  3. I will have chooks and a veggie patch large enough to be self sufficient.

    Vegetable garden

    Source: not known.

  4. And, probably a very expensive oven where I will bake ’til my heart’s content and never get fat:

    Oven

    Source: Remodelista.

  5. Then laze in my outdoor bathroom.
Outdoor bath

Source: Living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Site progress is going swimmingly!

The landscapers took charge of our block for a week.  The only evidence of their presence from my far away vantage point was a hefty invoice.  So I sent out an S.O.S. to my Mandurah friends:  “Do we really have a pool?”

The resounding reply was “Yes!”

And what a beautiful chunk of concrete it is.HBTW pool

Let me draw attention to the features:

  • Steps
  • Things sticking out of the wall (for lights, we hope)
  • Built-in ice bucket!

I don’t think it’s too early to “bags my spot”.  I’ve never been good at art, but just so it is on record, my spot is marked by the green arrow:

Wooden bench seat going here.  Throw on a couple of outdoor cushions and I'll be set for the afternoon.  ...Should have had that ice bucket installed up this end.

A wooden bench seat is going here. Throw on a couple of outdoor cushions and I’ll be set for the afternoon. …I should have had that ice bucket installed up this end.

Thanks to my lovely friends and Brian, site-supervisor extraordinaire, for the photos:

The pool was whipped up in a matter of days and the site was handed back to the builders.

Next steps:

  1. Set up scaffold over the pool (for safety) and along the retaining wall.
  2. Fill the retaining wall cavities.
  3. While the concrete is curing, waterproof the back of the walls.
  4. Backfill the site.
  5. Prepare the house pad for the slab.

I am eagerly waiting for the site supervisor’s next report, any day now, confirming that these tasks have been done.

In other minor news, I have subscribed to Nearmap for one year.  Nearmap is a provider of aerial photographs.  Initially I was put off by the high price of $200 per year, when the Mandurah area was only scheduled for 4 updates in the next 12 months.  So I let it go.  My hesitation paid off and a half-price offer appeared in my inbox.  $100 for one year.   Still expensive photos at $25 a pop, but you know how I like my photos…..

The most recent photo was taken on July 18th when work on our retaining wall footings had just begun:

Nearmap shot of our block.

It has been fun to check out the block over time (Nearmap pictures for our area date back to 2009) and to see some of our previous homes.

Are pictures of piles of sand and curing concrete not your thing?  Don’t worry, I’ll be philosophising about home cellars, libraries, rugs and spaceship lighting again soon.  Maybe one of those topics is up your alley?

 

 

First dip into the pool.

Design by Tim Davies Landscaping.

Design by Tim Davies Landscaping.

This week work on our pool began.   I’m told that if we built the house first, deeper footings would be necessary to accommodate the pool so close to the house.  The down side is that the builders will have to work around the pool, and for that to happen safely, the pool will be covered by scaffolding.  Tim Davies Landscaping (TDL) have designed the pool and its surrounds and have subcontracted Future Pools to actually construct it.

The bare facts about our future pool:

  • Concrete.
  • 6.7 x 3.8 metres
  • $45 650 (not including fencing or paving, includes TDL’s fee).

Pool plan

 

We went backwards and forwards with the concrete versus fibreglass decision.  I’m not commenting on this debate because my findings on the subject were inconclusive.  However, choosing a fibreglass pool of this size could have saved us $14000.  In the end, we went with our “gut feeling”, influenced in part by the historical superiority of concrete pools and the wisdom of my Uncle, who’s occupation is servicing pools.

The basics are organised by TDL:

  • Pool construction and finishing.
  • Tiled deck.
  • Gates and fencing –  a mix of glass, aluminium “slats” and modutech screen.  (The latter may be replaced at a later date by a “pool/sauna house”.
  • Lighting.
  • Screen for the pool equipment.

We will need to organise:

  • Pool blanket and somewhere to keep it when not in use.
  • Heating (solar).
  • Cleaning and maintenance.

I shall be leaving the finer details of that to he-who-wants-the-pool, however any pool dwellers out there with advice, you know I’m all ears…  And while I’m at it, my favourite-neighbour-ever is moving to Perth (yippee!) and is in the market for a new pool.  W.A. readers with recommendations for pool installers, please do leave a comment.

And just because I love to daydream about House By The Water, I made a pool mood board.

Poolside at House By The Water.

  • Tiles: Marazzi “block” for outdoors in Grey and Silver.
  • Finish:  Duraquartz in “sky blue” (TBC).
  • Trees:  Pleached Lilly Pilly trees (or pears/olives/evergreen ash?) and a feature Frangipani.
  • Outdoor lounge: Lujo sun lounge.
  • House render:  Dulux Grey Pebble (shown as background colour).

It’s looking good, if I may say so myself!

 

 

 

Retaining wall footings

Usually, when I have a nightmare, I wake up just before any real danger strikes or I do this funny “treading-air” manoeuvre which lifts me above the trouble.  Perhaps prompted by an absence of news from our builders, I dreamt that my husband and I decided to go and look for ourselves.  Despite the fact that we are very familiar with Mandurah, we kept getting lost along the way and couldn’t find our block.  When I woke up that morning, there was a pleasant surprise for me.  The team at “Progress Realty Photo Services” (who are rendering their services free-of-charge, but have put in a large homemade apple pie order) had been on our site and sent us a photographic update.  I could kiss them!

Photo One:  

Remember that retaining wall cost shock I had a few months ago?  Well, here’s where that money is going:

Retaining wall footings.

Retaining wall footings.

Sometime soon, it should start to look a bit like this:

Future retaining walls - plans by Tim Davies Landscaping.

Future retaining walls – plans by Tim Davies Landscaping.

 

Photo 2:

Earth/sand moved from the canal side of the block and, what I can only assume is a kind gift from the neighbours – a palm tree.  Should I tell them that we have an aversion to palms, except when found on tropical islands?

Early housewarming gift?

Early housewarming gift?

I’m guessing that the wire is reinforcement for the slab?  It could also make a nice garden feature….  or cheap front fence?

Photo 3:

The boss of “Progress Realty Photo Services” demonstrating the scale of the earth piles.Progress Realty Photo Services on site.

To call it “earth” seems overly generous.  Trying to grow plants in that stuff could be an impossibility, but I’m happy to see no giant rocks.  I don’t want a site works cost shock like the retaining wall shock.  I’m not sure if I can “tread-air” fast enough to escape one of those.

So there you have it.  The first blog post of the “piles of dirt and building materials” kind.  How did you go?  Still awake?  Now that construction has commenced, I promise to intersperse posts filled with scintillating construction site photos with other posts.  Some hot topics coming up are window dressings, building inspectors and jetties.  Right now, I’m collecting quotes for inspectors and those insect screens are still bugging me.

Can’t see the wood for the trees.

In order to limit our landscaping costs and because we like gardening, we are planning and planting the trees and plants ourselves.  The garden is a long way off but already we’ve been keeping an eye out for suitable trees.  I’ve been scouring Houzz for good looking gardens by West Australian landscape companies.  Houzz is very useful because the landscape companies often give details about the products and plants that they use.

Fully labelled photo - scroll over tags in "Houzz" to see the name of each plant or product.  Landscape design by Secret Gardens, photo via Houzz.

Fully labelled photo – scroll over tags in “Houzz” to see the name of each plant or product. Landscape design by Secret Gardens, photo via Houzz.

Surprisingly, recent real-life inspiration came from Parliament House in Canberra.    The landscaping there is beautiful.  Orderly without being stark. There is a distinct colour scheme of grey and green.  The outstanding feature is a grove of birch trees.

A courtyard at Parliament House, Canberra.  Photo courtesy of Swah from Swah Love.

A courtyard at Parliament House, Canberra. Photo courtesy of Swah from Love Swah.

There are 5 or 6 areas of our landscape that require trees.  I’ve created a shortlist for each area after researching the following local resources:

Let’s start at the back (canal-side).

Trees for the canal side.

Trees for the canal side of our block.  Landscape design by Tim Davies Landscaping.

We need one feature tree, a row of 3 narrow trees and a poolside row of pleached trees.

1.  The feature tree needs to:

  • shade the outdoor lounge area from the Western sun.
  • tolerate coastal conditions including wind (and sandy soil?).
  • be beautiful.
  • have roots that are containable to a small area (pool and pavers are nearby).

    This picture is fairly close to our landscaping plans.  Upright fencing, pool.  Not much shade going on here.

    This picture is fairly close to our landscaping plans. Upright fencing, decking and pool. But, we need more shade.  Source:  William Dangar and Associates, via Flickr.

Here’s my shortlist:

  • Frangipani (Plumeria).  Shortfalls might include inadequate shade and wind intolerance.
  • Magnolia Kay Parris.  Might need wind protection.
  • Chinese Tallow.  Due to invasive roots, I think it would need to remain potted.  The leaf drop in the pool may be yuck.
  • Olive.   Not quite in the beautiful category when planted in isolation.

(Picture sources:  1 & 4.  Arbor West Tree Farm.  2.  Ellenby Tree Farm.  3. Cultivart Landscape Design, via Houzz.)

I don’t think I’ve found the perfect feature tree, so let me know if you have a suggestion.  (No palms.)

2.  Row of 3 trees needs to be:

  • Light on foliage, to keep the view.
  • Narrow.
  • Tolerant to coastal conditions.

Shortlist:

  • Ornamental pear. (Might need wind protection)
  • Silver birch. (May grow too large.)
  • Evergreen ash.  (Could block the view.)
  • Chinese tallow. (Their roots make me nervous….)
  • Olive.
  • Banksia Integrifolia (pictured at the top of the post in the Houzz photo).

Picture sources: 1. C.O.S. Design via Houzz.  2.  Swan Architecture via Houzz.  3. Abor West Tree Farm.  4.  Tim Davies Landscaping.

3.  Pleached row of trees along poolside wall needs to be:

  • trainable.
  • not too messy (evergreen).

How about?:

  • Evergreen ash.
  • Designer ash” (Fraxinus excelsior “Nana”).
  • Weeping Lilly Pilly.

Picture sources: 1.  Tim Davies Landscaping  2.  Flemings  3. Swell Homes

Now to the front – here it is simpler.  North facing, more protected from wind and with more room to grow.

1.  Feature tree near front entry.  I think we’ll match the feature tree from the back, whatever that might be.

2.  Orchard around front yard perimeter:  This one is easy – olives and citrus trees, maybe a bay tree to complete the cook’s garden.  We’ve had olives and lemons in Mandurah before and they grew like wildfire.

Picture sources:  Olives – Charlotte Rowe, Bay tree – Penny Woodward,  Lemon and limes – Abor West Tree Farm.

Midway through my list making, my husband asked whether I could really mix native trees with non-natives and still keep to a single landscape style.  Despite the fact that he was only voicing what I had been wondering, I was annoyed that he was adding to my tree dilemmas!  Further web trawling has given me the confidence that mixing trees and plants  can be done well.  (The top picture is a good example.)  So my answer is now, yes!

The subject of trees certainly opened up a can of worms.  I’m not sure that I’ve concluded anything yet, but hopefully this post will encourage some advice from green-thumbed readers, particularly those in the same climate as House By The Water.  At the very least, I now have some short lists to take to the tree farms or local nurseries to seek further advice.