Open garden / Native garden with a formal mood

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Martin Jennings and Kay Newman... “We were interested in creating a garden here that was native, but also formal, and we worked with a designer to achieve that.”
Martin Jennings and Kay Newman… “We were interested in creating a garden here that was native, but also formal, and we worked with a designer to achieve that.”
WITH a series of layered decks flowing into one another, framed by spectacular scarlet bottlebrush and several grevilleas, Kay Newman and Martin Jennings’ Deakin garden is a relaxing space full of texture and interest.

The couple moved here from WA in 2007, with a view to recreating the native garden they had loved so much in Perth.

“We were interested in creating a garden here that was native but also formal, and we worked with a designer to achieve that,” she says.

“A native garden doesn’t have to be wild and unstructured, and faced with an average suburban block of 845sqm, and several established trees, we wanted to make good use of the space.”

Kay and Martin’s garden will be open on the weekend of November 8 and 9, featuring three gorgeous deciduous forest pansy trees in the front, whose deep red leaves provide striking contrast to the surrounding greenery.

“We love sitting on the front steps under the liquid amber and chatting to people as they go by,” says Martin. “We’ve worked around the tree because it shades the house beautifully in summer.”

Before the couple started work on the garden, Kay says it had no structure and was a mass of weeds, fruit trees and pine chips.

“We enjoyed the process of ripping everything out and starting from scratch, and working with the sloping block to maximise its potential while leaving the central gum tree in place at the back – even though it’s messy!” says Kay.

Disguising the slope was achieved with clever decking, which separates the garden into sections and creates a walkway around the house to the entertaining area.

“The eating area and built-in seating wall is a favourite place for us to sit in the evening,” says Kay. “When the sunlight hits the gum tree, it glows golden and we enjoy the changing light.

“We also get a lot of bird life, including little wrens, honeyeaters, magpie larks, eastern spinebills and currawongs.

“The decks are lit with ambient lighting and looking over at the tiers in the evening is atmospheric and quite beautiful.”

Kay adds that every room of the house has a garden view.

“We’re always looking out on to greenery, and we love that,” she says.


7 Fuller Street, Deakin, open 10am-4.30pm, Saturday, November 8 and Sunday, November 9. Adults $8, children under 18 are free. Funds raised will go to Open Gardens Australia and MS Australia. More information at

Photos by Gary Schafer

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist with a particular interest in homes and gardens.

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