Photography Joe Fletcher Photography.

World's Best

Last Updated: 19 Oct 2015
Elizabeth Fabri

From South Africa to London, the design and innovation in these breathtaking gardens will inspire you.


The team at Mary Barensfeld Architecture was tasked with designing an inviting outdoor area for this California abode. The steeply sloped plot of land required an upper seating area that could be easily accessed despite its considerable elevation challenges, but stairs were to be avoided for reasons of aesthetics and space. A meandering garden ramp was therefore incorporated to provide ease of navigation and visual interest. A series of Japanese maples, aromatic lemon thyme, creeping jenny and Koi bamboo add to its appeal. On the ground level, wood decking and benches, and a white granite patio are juxtaposed against a reflecting pool and weathering steel feature wall. In the evening, LED light cascades down the backlit triangular steel panels for an illuminating finish.

Hilgard Garden, by Mary Barensfeld Architecture, won an Honor Award at the American Society of Landscape Architects Northern California Chapter 2015 Professional Awards,,


The green roof in this Mill Valley residence blends in seamlessly with the hillside, providing a canvas for the artist owner's love of gardening. The steeply sloped property is divided into two separate cabins to give each site a different outlook of the enchanting woods beyond. The lower cabin roof's quilt-like appearance is
a combination of succulents that do not need pruning to maintain their appearance.

Mill Valley Cabins, by Feldman Architecture and Jori Hook Landscape Architecture,,


Lighting is a crucial element in this contemporary townhouse garden design. Intended to suit the busy lifestyle of its owners, the garden was to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living, providing a space the clients could retreat to on weekends and in the evening. The main social zone, with white sawn-limestone paving, contains a large gas fire, barbecue, work surfaces and modular sofa for outdoor entertaining. To the rear, a handcrafted textured stone wall overlooking a water trough is lit by three spotlights. Plant selection was to be subtle and calming, with the majority chosen for their texture and green hue. Three silver birches complete the space, contributing to the occupants' sense of seclusion.

Barnsbury Townhouse Garden, by Daniel Shea Contemporary Garden Design,


Set atop a prominent ridge in the Front Range, Colorado, the Castle Pines Residence aims to exploit the spectacular views at its doorstep. Its double-sided infinity pool acts as a large reflective surface that provides visual connection between the landscape and valley below. A secluded sunken terrace adjacent to the upper level contains a fire pit and intimate space for entertaining. Sagebrush, large rock outcroppings and pines were chosen to pay homage to the mountainside backdrop. A spa house within the property incorporates a year-round swim spa and reflecting pool with floating deck.

Castle Pines Residence, by Three Sixty Design, won a Merit Award at the American Society of Landscape Architects Colorado Chapter 2011 Professional Awards,,


A unique blend of materials was used to create this contemporary garden on the outskirts of Warsaw. A large ornamented Corten steel panel and modern water feature draw the eyes, standing out against a living wall of lush green foliage. To the left, a fireplace surrounded by undulating seats has been placed near the barbecue zone. On the opposite corner of the L-shaped plot, a modern gazebo made of laminated beams and bangkirai planks provides contrast.

Ogrod Kameralny, by Inspiracje,


A resort-style pool stretching across the length of this Singaporean home strikes the perfect balance between contemporary edge and traditional zen. Unlike other pools, the custom-built transparent structure is enclosed with 35mm thick tempered, laminated clear-glass panels that are a minimum of five metres in length, with clear silicon joints. Intersecting courtyards, gardens and terraces surround the space to provide all rooms with an outlook to gardens. The roof gardens are also an effective tool to cool the building and retain water during heavy rainfall.

Water Lily House, by Guz Architects,


Outdoor living reaches new heights in this Tuscan-inspired abode. The stone-veneer space exudes warmth in all aspects of design, featuring a well-appointed kitchen, fireplace and bocce court below. Boulders and stone veneer were carefully chosen by hand to match the Colorado home's exterior, with some even removed from the house and repurposed in the construction of the outdoor kitchen and fireplace. The preservation of the existing mature trees was critical to creating an aged, rustic aesthetic.

Italian Villa, by Lindgren Landscape,


Located near the shore of Long Island's Gold Coast, this light-filled 19th century renovated farmhouse is bordered by a wrap-around terraced garden,
connecting the lower and upper yards. A collaboration between the architects and garden designer, the terracing is made of railroad ties that follow the natural grade of the landscape, and provide steps to the pool below. Plant selection includes dwarf hydrangea, dwarf butterfly bush, stephanandra incisa crispa, Sixteen Candles, hellebore and ansonia. An existing stonewall is covered in an ivy blanket, creeping down from a courtyard above.

Sands Point House, by Ole Sondresen Architect, George Woodward Garden Design,


Already featured in numerous commercials, films and television shows, Sunset Plaza is a chic, sophisticated addition to the Los Angeles region's impressive portfolio of homes. Water features are dotted throughout the two-acre grounds, including three large spillways and a stainless steel weir up-lit with an LED rope light at the front. A custom-built pool at the rear is perfectly positioned to capture the sunset, and overlooks a stretch of lush green grass and low-maintenance gardens.

Sunset Plaza, by Fiore Landscape Design,


This hidden garden in the heart of a conservation area in Clapham Old Town, London, contains two courtyards that play a crucial role in the narrative of the house. They were introduced to ensure the inhabitants of the home felt a constant connection to nature, particularly on the underground level. A linear pond and luxuriant in-built planter separate the south courtyard from the garden above, while mirrored panels lying behind the plants create a series of reflections. Native species, including flowering cherries, pear and crab apple trees, were chosen for visual interest and seasonal colour. Water lilies were incorporated in the small ponds, and perennial and herbaceous planting was selected for the pond planter.

The Covert House, by DSDHA,


Bushes act as walls, lawns as floors and trees as columns in this spectacular Italian garden. Nestled within the hills of Ortonovo on a 6200sqm property, the garden comprises a series of green rooms: a swimming pool area, an outdoor kitchen, an entrance garden, and parking zone. The 'rooms' become more natural and nuanced as occupants venture further from the home, the green structure of the garden based on massive use of plant species, to create green volumes separating one space from another.

Contemporary Italian Garden, by Giuseppe Lunardini Landscape Architect,


An enclave of lush plantings and comfortable living zones make this Tribeca terrace stand out from the crowd. The award-winning space, totalling 241sqm, maintains clean lines and a modern approach through the use of crisp-white stone, slats of hardwood and eco-friendly SYNLawn for flooring. Curated garden containers are employed in the site's living areas to provide a shield from the neighbouring buildings. A moss-green roof area was incorporated to the edge to fulfil the client's desire to connect with nature. A step-up spa with wood privacy screen and a stone trough for drainage complete the space.

Tribeca Roof Garden, by Gunn Landscape Architecture, won a Gold Award at Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) International Landscape Design 2015 Awards.,


This Cape Town mountainside residence adopts a simple approach – to take its cues from the natural landscaping and vegetation in its immediate surrounds. Overlooking Bantry Bay, sleek low-maintenance gardens and a below-ground pool feature on the upper level, while a vertical garden was introduced below to soften the hardscape. To fulfil the client's brief for native planting, 35 different varieties of indigenous plants were chosen, predominantly succulents to assist with maintenance and longevity of the vertical garden.

OVD, by SAOTA and Nicholas Whitehorn Landscape Design,,

Gardens Global Outdoors & Gardens

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