Words by James Dessent, Photography by Vivian Scarpari
In our final feature for the year, we take a trip deep into a rainforest… without even leaving the city.
Thinking outside the box comes naturally to the team at Phillip Withers Landscape Design. With that in mind, their latest project – Interior Rainforest – is a great example of how an ‘out there’ design concept can be brought to life so naturally in an interior setting.
From the street this beautifully modest Victorian-era house looks no different to its neighbors. It’s not until you open the front door and make your way down the hallway and into the contemporary open plan kitchen and living space, that you begin to realize just how truly unique this place is…
The luscious wall of green that’s in front of you immediately grabs your attention. Phil says “It’s cool, calm and serene – just like a rainforest”. You move across the bluestone steppers at its base, as a waft of thyme fragrance inhabits your senses. You look up and feel completely surrounded by nature – just like in a rainforest.
What makes this vertical garden (designed by the team at PWLD in collaboration with Neil Architecture) unique is the way in which it wraps around the wall to create a canopy of plants usually seen in a much wilder setting. Feature plants include Asparagus ferns, Hosta and Baby’s tears – to help re-create the creeping moss effect found in rainforests – as well as various shapes of Rhipsalis, Philodendron and various ferns that blanket the wall with texture. Drawing attention at the base of the vertical garden are the King of Bromeliads and some gangly Monsteria and Zamiacolcus. (see pics below)
And you can’t have a rainforest without rain…right? Well thanks to Neil Architecture this had been taken into consideration and an overflow downpipe from the roof harvests the rainwater and redirects it to filter through the garden bed at the bottom of the vertical garden. The vertical garden itself works on a closed loop system whereby a dripper system sends water through to each plant. It is set on a timer to come on periodically, dependent on the season. The water is dispersed through the vertical garden and drains straight down into a hidden tank located at its base to catch and recycle all of the existing waterflow back up into the garden once again.
Creative Director Phillip Withers said it was important to work closely with the architect during the early stages of the project. “We were able to collaborate with Neil Architecture at the design stage so decisions that needed cohesion between house and garden could be determined,” he said. “They were pivotal in helping to create a progressive sustainable answer to how the garden functioned within the interior space and we look forward to seeing the concept grow.”