Words by James Dessent, Images by Etienne Mortier

In our first feature for the series, the team from Phillip Withers Landscape Design revisits a special garden with a strong connection to its local community. 

Located in the town square area of the newly revamped Eastland Shopping Centre, The Cellar Door is a unique hybrid of restaurant, public bar and a retail space showcasing local goods.  And with some of the region’s best produce on its doorstep, it truly is the gateway to the Yarra Valley. But perhaps it’s best kept secret can be found, strangely enough, on the roof.

Since opening its doors in October of last year, the venue has quickly become a favourite amongst the locals. That’s because Owner Dale White has a passion for “all things local” – and it’s not just a catch phrase to him. “I grew up in the area and I still live only 10 minutes away from this place so it was really important to me to make it a part of the community,” he said. “And I think one of the ways we’ve been able to develop that bond is through the rooftop garden. “A perfect example is the people that work in the area that come and hang out in the garden on their lunch break – that’s exactly the type of local engagement we set out to achieve.”

Densely populated with an array of herbs (mint, parsley, thyme) vegetable plants (broccoli, cabbage, eggplant) and fruit trees (lemon, lime, olives), the garden was designed to provide a functional food source for the restaurant, as well as a space for the community to enjoy. Creative Director Phillip Withers said that balance was achieved by having a collaborative working relationship with his client. After an initial meeting with Dale, the team was able to put together a planting plan specifically tailored to his needs. “With a garden such as this one, every plant has its place,” said Phillip. Having grown up in a neighboring suburb, Phillip said he shared Dale’s vision of creating a practical garden that felt welcoming to the community. “It’s really rewarding to be able to come back and see that the plants are thriving and people are really enjoying spending time in the garden.”

Along with The Cellar Door, Dale and partner Bec Gallagher are also the brains behind a microbrewery (The Public Brewery) a café ( Bekendales) in Croydon and there latest project sees them creating a farm and a wedding…

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