19 December 2022

Creative gardens breathe new life into Canberra's neglected urban spaces

| Katrina Condie
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Breakout space at IQ Apartments

Green breakout spaces at Braddon’s IQ Apartments have been transformed and residents can’t wait for the edible garden to start producing. Photo: Instyle.

Canberra’s lifeless rooftops, boring balconies and humdrum courtyards are being transformed one by one into cool entertaining spaces.

Breathing new life into forgotten urban spaces is Aaron Woods’ speciality, and his work is turning heads in apartment complexes and office buildings across the city.

The general manager of Instyle Indoor Plant Hire says any neglected indoor or outdoor area can be transformed into a relaxing and inviting space with careful planning and the addition of the right plants and landscaping elements.

“There are so many blank spaces out there just waiting to be turned into something really special,” he says.

“Whether it’s a concrete rooftop, a disused balcony or an uninviting shared entertaining area, we can create a space where people want to gather and socialise or just relax surrounded by nature.”

Aaron says careful planning is required to ensure the plants and structural elements best suit the environment and the proposed use of the space.

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“Canberra’s environment can be harsh,” he says. “So when it comes to creating a garden on a bare concrete rooftop for example, where the sun is beating down all through summer, you need to really think about how you can create a cool, relaxing space that people will want to spend time in.

“Every space can be converted, whether it’s in full sun or full shade.

“What we do is only limited by our imagination and we work with clients to design a garden or breakout area that suits their style and needs.”

Aaron and his team have created formal English style gardens, rambling cottage gardens, Japanese gardens complete with rocks and water features, contemporary hanging gardens, as well as edible gardens in Canberra’s industrial, office and residential complexes.

“We can create a tropical oasis or modern industrial-style gardens by using multiple design elements and clever landscaping techniques,” he says. “Planting in and on different surfaces and companion planting complement structural features such as designer seating or recycled wharf piers to produce great results.

“We recently created some amazing informal spaces in Braddon’s IQ apartments using mainly edible plant species.

“All pots have been planted for aesthetics, screening and wherever possible planted with edible varieties for resident produce.

“This included olive and pomegranate trees underplanted with lemongrass, Thai lime underplanted with Italian parsley and blood orange underplanted with mint.

“Flex seating added architectural flare and the large pots were placed to create privacy screening and soften the quiet spaces.

“The residents absolutely love the new garden space and excited to see their first crop of olive and pomegranates.”

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There has been huge demand for urban gardens across Canberra since COVID.

“People just want to get out into the fresh air and have some elements of nature at their door,” Aaron says.

“When you’re outside among plants, even if it’s just a small courtyard, you can breath in fresh air and reconnect to nature.”

Instyle Indoor Plant Hire also constructs design elements to make spaces functional, attractive and inviting by including soft seating, planter boxes, shade structures and water features.<

“Mass plantings can create a lush environment, while large feature trees with herbs or seasonal blooms planted underneath can make a real statement and break up a large area.”

Aaron says it’s amazing what you can do.

“A lot of the time you can create microclimates using heating/cooling vent outlets or under-extended eaves.

“We can use structural elements and clever planting to alter the environment to accommodate some marginal planting that might normally struggle in Canberra.”

Instyle converted a disused balcony space in a Brisbane Avenue office building into an inviting breakout area for staff and provide a green outlook for those viewing the areas from the full-length rooftop windows.

A crane lifted all components and materials into place and Instyle installed edging, artificial turf and decorative pebble without adhesive or components that could compromise the floor’s waterproof membrane.

No matter the space, the Instyle team can meets clients’ requirements and individual style.

The Instyle Indoor Plant Hire team will also maintain the area, so sit back and enjoy!

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