Converting a City Block into Family DREAM GARDENS


Melbourne couple, Carl and Maria, will go to great lengths to better engage with their garden.

Even if that means knocking down the family home and starting again. It sounds extreme, but this is no ordinary garden. With three young children at home, the couple want a space that offers plenty of opportunities for play, with an array of native plants, all centred around the main attraction – a natural bush billabong.

But a block in the heart of the city isn’t exactly the prime location for such a garden. Their plans for a chemical-free pool, which will mimic the systems found in nature, will require a great deal of infrastructure and a solid understanding of the biology involved.

Carl and Maria turned to landscape designer, Phillip Johnson, to tackle their ambitious project. Phillip is renowned for sustainable and naturalistic Australian gardens and his very own, ‘Billabong Falls’ was the inspiration for Carl and Maria’s bush garden.

Even with Phillip’s expertise, this is no simple transformation. It’s something that landscape gardener, John Couch knows only too well. John spent ten years converting an uninspiring suburban backyard into an amazing tropical oasis. Just fifteen kilometres from Carl and Maria, John has literally modified the climate in his garden for the tropical plants from Queensland to adapt to the much colder winters in Victoria.

The spectacular result surprises host, Michael McCoy, who has never seen anything like it in a bustling metropolis like Melbourne. Carl and Maria will face a similar challenge, manipulating microclimates to build their billabong garden. But with space also an issue, can they really bring the beauty of the Australian bush to the suburbs?

Production credits: Supervising Executive Producer, Frances O’Riordan. Executive Producer, Jane Rowley, Series Producer, Leisa Pratt.

Dream Gardens – Series 3, Episode 5 airs Friday 30 July 8.00pm on ABC and IVIEW




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