Design A Classical Garden

Incoporate topiary into your garden design to create a classic-looking outdoor space

A symmetrical garden with pond and topiary

Water features, topiary and clean lines are all elements of classic garden design

Winter can be a gardener’s most challenging season, as many trees are bare and perennials are dormant. But award-winning garden designer Paul Bangay relishes the cold.

He looks forward to the colder months, which he tends to see as a time of renewal in a constant cycle. 
 
‘The putting to sleep of the garden for winter can be incredibly rewarding,’ says Paul.
 
‘I welcome the change after the flowers and foliage have died down and returned to compost. It makes the garden new again and is one of the simplest joys of gardening.
 
‘It’s common to focus on the plants but it’s the surfaces, materials, walls and features that are the essential heart of the garden.’
 
The garden architecture is what plants should be built around as it determines how a garden functions.  

A classical revival 

‘There’s a noticeable return to more classic design,’ says Paul, whose own gardening style tends towards a formal, timeless aesthetic.
 
‘Trends will always date, which isn’t necessarily a reason not to take them on, but be aware you’ll probably want to redesign in another five years.’
 
Classic design relies on choosing quality natural materials, establishing symmetry and repeating patterns.
 
‘Strong geometric shapes and clean lines create harmony, with interest provided through details including topiary, sculpture, water features and fountains.
 
‘It’s a style that can work in any space. To me, it’s everything a garden should be, relaxing, unfussy, elegant and ordered,’ says Paul.
 
This aesthetic ties in with the way Australians are using outdoor space. ‘People now eat, entertain, work and play in the garden,’ says Paul.

Garden bench in symmetrical backyard

The use of symmetery lends a garden a timeless aesthetic
 

Successful paving

 A lawn may be considered traditional but Paul says paving is the best choice for Aussie yards.
 
‘As people get more serious about making an outdoor room, paved areas are getting larger, so the harder and more durable the material the better.
 
‘Marble and granite pavers are growing in popularity as cheaper options are available,’ he says.
 
Paving is a dominant element, so Paul says to choose a material that will complement the nearby building or structure. 

Paved area in contemporary garden

Paved areas are incredibly popular in Australian gardens
 

Landscaping with topiary

Neatly trimmed hedges and shapes are common features of a classical garden.
 
Box and conifers are easy to clip into topiaries and maintain, as are diosma, lavender and lilly pilly, or grow ivy or moss over a frame.
 
Adding topiary alongside paths transforms a simple access point into a sculptural feature, or use one or two to emphasise a favourite part of the garden.
 
Designer and gardener Paul Bangay

Designer and gardener Paul Bangay
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