Twenty-five years of landscapes

During twenty-five years of landscape design, my values have remained consistent; relating the garden to the site and surrounds, building functional spaces that are relevant to the needs of the owners and creating beautiful gardens that are also practical. Only the style and elements used vary with each brief and unique site.

Learning to observe the landscape and nearby gardens teaches us many things about local conditions and what will thrive. This is one of the most important tools we have to work with and has been critical to my approach of creating sustainable gardens and landscapes. It contributes significantly to minimising ongoing garden maintenance.

My partner’s landscape construction company, David Swann Landscape Construction, builds most of the gardens, ensuring a high quality of finish. We are also involved in maintenance supervision. The breadth of our projects encompasses small and large gardens in urban, coastal and country settings mostly in south eastern Victoria, commercial sites and revegetation projects. Many of these gardens have been featured in landscape design books and media as examples of uniquely Australian, sustainable gardens.

Fiona Brockhoff

Having grown up in a modernist, late 50’s Melbourne house surrounded by architectural plants, I felt inspired by design and the possibilities from an early age. This awareness of aesthetics combined with a fascination with nature and plants inspired me to embark upon a career that married these loves.

After completing my studies (Degree in Applied Science at VCAH – Burnley College, now Burnley, University of Melbourne) and gaining experience with various landscape designers my challenge was to design gardens that were uniquely Australian. These were gardens that were not only relevant to our busy lifestyles but considered the harsh conditions that Australia’s climate often presented. Planting design that celebrated our unique flora and considered plant choice from a suitability perspective – matching plants with conditions – was paramount to this.

I gained further understanding of our unique ecosystems from working on revegetation projects in both Alpine and Coastal areas. This gave me a real insight into harsh conditions and how these plant communities had evolved to deal with them.

Experience designing country gardens and shelter belts on farms, in north eastern Victoria where resources are often limited, taught me to be practical and sensible with choices. Being innovative when it comes to using local materials and recycling elements gives a garden a sense of belonging and goes a long way towards spending less on it’s development. A local quarry is always the best source of stone and gravel.

For me the philosophy behind creating beautiful and practical gardens remains consistent, even though each garden is unique. It materialise in my designs as simplicity, natural materials, sustainability principles and plants suited to the situation, usually a combination of Australian and exotic species.

David Swann

David Swann has a background in civil engineering. He has more than 20 years experience in landscape construction ranging across small and large residential landscapes. A signature of David’s landscapes is his stone work. Many gardens feature stone walls and paving and feature rocks.

David’s company, David Swann Landscape Construction, has a team of 5 permanent and casual landscapers. He works exclusively on Fiona’s projects, resulting in a close and enduring working relationship that ensures responsiveness and a high quality outcome for the client.

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37 Fairbairn Road
Toorak Victoria 3142
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