Afterall, a surge in demand for all things green was bound to happen when you combine Australia’s penchant for wellness and an ongoing pandemic.
The mental health benefits of being amid nature, whether it’s jogging along a bush track or weeding the garden, have long been expounded.
A report commissioned by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria last year found time spent in nature “lowers stress which impacts on our health in many complex ways, changing our mood as well as the way our nervous, endocrine and immune systems function”.
People have looked to the healing benefits of nature to overcome the challenges of lockdown and this has come as an awakening to some and no surprise to others.
Lisa Howard, award-wining landscape architect and Victorian executive member of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, says the pandemic has heightened demand for gardens as an escape from busy lives.
“In some ways everyone has found refuge in what they have, including creating their own little sanctuaries at home, which is lovely,” she says.
“I think too people are starting to see a bit more of a connection with just generally what’s around them.”
“So we’re seeing requests for gardens that have bird attractions and seasonal change. And it’s not necessarily through the exotic species that they want seasonal change either – there’s a lot of clients who are happy to have Australian flora in all its seasonal wonder and capacity.”
Recognising this love of nature, developers behind a new project on Dickens Street in leafy Camberwell have made landscaping a top priority.
A short stroll from Back Creek Reserve and Fordham Gardens, the 44 apartments at Kirra Gardens, by developer Emery Group, are surrounded by lush greenery designed by celebrity landscaper Jamie Durie to provide residents with a sense of tranquility.
Durie Design has collaborated with C. Kairouz Architects to include a rooftop garden (subject to council approval) that includes vegetable gardens.
Growing home-made produce has been a popular pastime with so many people still working from home, says Howard.
“We’re seeing a massive rise in vegetable gardens,” she says. “Partly because of the pandemic, but also because there’s a satisfaction about being able to grow something, then watch it produce, harvest it and use it in cooking.”
The landscaping at Kirra Gardens is aimed at those who want a low maintenance lifestyle, but don’t want to forgo the beauty of a well crafted garden.
Unlike many other contemporary developments, Daniel Caspar, director at Eton Property Group, says residents there won’t be missing out on a connection with nature.
“The landscaping is an absolute centrepiece of this project and Jamie Durie of Durie Design has really come up with something quite unique,” he explains. “There’s a lot of great, passive, quiet open space that’s all integrated beautifully into the landscape.”
The development will include 14 ground-floor apartments with their own private courtyards, which not only provide a personal patch of zen, but will also give residents privacy. There will also be four “platinum finished” penthouses on the top level with expansive outdoor areas.
“What we’re finding is people don’t necessarily want a penthouse on the top floor, but they want the level of quality of a penthouse on the ground floor, so there are five ground floor penthouses include a courtyard and private open space,” says Caspar.
Sustainability is also a key feature of the development, with the building achieving a 7 Star NatHERS rating thanks to inclusions such as high-efficiency hot water pumps, double glazed windows, a solar PV system and 15,000 litres of rainwater storage.
To find out more about Kirra Gardens, visit the Domain listing or kirragardens.com.au, or visit the team and enjoy a barista-made coffee at Kirra Gardens’ grand launch on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 February from 11am to 2pm.