Landscape architect Peachy Green on creating “magical moments”

Feb 3, 2022
  • Article by Charlotte Huston

Good design isn’t always a bed of roses. However, Peachy Green founder and landscape architect Fran Hale shares how she gets pretty close to making it one.

Since starting her studio in 2011, Melbourne-based Hale has developed a distinct style for buoyantly lush and considered spaces.

ADR recently caught up with Hale to discuss her career in Australian landscape design and how the industry has changed in the past decade.

Peachy Green founder Fran Hale.

A self-confessed “arty kid”, Hale grew up loving fashion design but disliked sewing and credits her family with introducing her to the world of gardening.

“I was always pretty sure I wanted to get into some sort of design because I was creative and artistic. And I didn’t really know it at the time, but growing up, I was influenced by my dad being a gardener. My aunties were big gardeners too, and I just thought plants would be nice.

“I was young, so I didn’t think beyond, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll just give this a shot’. And it just evolved.”

Hale’s describes her gardens as minimally poetic and instantly evoking a biophilic desire to be surrounded by greenery.

When asked how she would identify her Peachy Green touch, she says it’s all about enabling people to feel as though they’re “part of the natural world.

Sharp Street with landscape design by Peachy Green. Photo: Sarah Pannell.

“There is sort of a magical quality created by our combinations. We like to choose lots of interesting plants that we really love and place them all together.

“We love other materials as well, like bricks and stone and timber. Those help to elevate a space, alongside the different colours and textures, the really glossy big leaves and soft fluffy plants.”

Careful planning ensures harmony between nature and built structures Photo: Sarah Pannell.

But Hale explains this liberated approach hasn’t always been the expected style.

“The landscape industry has changed. When I entered, it was a more formal, structured design. Things were quite built and there were lots of rendered retaining walls and built solid elements.

“But now there’s more of a move towards softness. People are using stepping stones with climbers in between, big rocks and boulders instead of hard retaining walls.

“So there’s definitely more of a looseness in the geometry with more curves. When you’re looking down on top of the plan, it doesn’t have to be symmetrical with perfect access lines created.”

Soft asymmetrical shapes are now commonplace in landscape design. Photo: Sarah Pannell.

And with the COVID-19 pandemic encouraging people to invest time and money toward their homes, landscape design has blossomed, with landscape designers, like Hale, in hot demand.

“Everybody’s really busy and wait times are really, really blown out,” she says.

“Everybody is really pretty focused on making their space calm and liveable since they now spend more time there.”

8 Yard House with landscape design by Peachy Green.

One particularly popular addition influenced by the pandemic are, according to Hale, water features with a focus on health and wellness.

“Things like saunas and outdoor showers and even outdoor baths have come up more because people want to create a space they can really relax in.”

Case in point, 8 Yard House.

Designed by Melbourne-based practice Studio Bright, the project features a series of beautiful outside spaces.

8 Yard House is located in inner Melbourne’s leafy Fitzroy North.

As its landscape designer, Peachy Green sought to connect the home’s inhabitants and the outdoors, in all weather and seasons.

Set on an inner-urban site in Melbourne’s north, 8 Yard House is punctured by a series of eight yards, each with a different mood and function, some hardscaped and others softscaped.

“In a year that has seen a renewed appreciation of private open space and the need to prioritise wellbeing, it will serve its family far into the future.

Peachy Green has created a tapestry of shapes and scales with the landscape.

Looking ahead, Hale is jam-packed with current and upcoming projects across Victoria with various architects, which includes another collaboration with Studio Bright in Glen Iris.

“We’re doing a beautiful project in Clifton Hill with MRTN. We’re also working with Mihaly Slocombe in the Mornington Peninsula and doing a couple of other things with Olaver Architecture.

“So, we’re pretty lucky to have all these terrific Melbourne architects to work with.”

And ADR reckons the architects feel the same way about Peachy Green.

Lead image of 8 Yard House courtesy of Studio Bright. Photography: Rory Gardiner unless otherwise stated.

Last year, ADR toured 10 architecturally-designed gardens in Australia and beyond.

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