Richardson Garden Runaway Bay Gold Coast ……

Note: I would like  to share with  you  through  these few words, photographs and hyperlinked websites, a 3 Dimensional  experience as though you were  actually there with  us. Click on any photograph and it should enlarge to  different size ….. at least half screen or size full screen. It will be clearer in detail than the photo on the post. It will be as if you were  really there looking at the actual  scene. You are an arm chair traveller with us.

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Design & Construction in 1993 …..

This garden and construction work was initially recommended by a business friend who knew the client down on the Gold Coast. I, Ken Aitken was a Landscape Designer and Contractor. Unknowingly, I was a landscape sculptor. Rather an intangible product to sell and run a business with!! However, I built a structure for my life: my marriage, family, house and business from this base. 

The site was a private residential garden consisting of the following aspects in the design brief and final sequence:

  • Overall Site Details:
  • Design a garden for an older largely retired business couple living by the estuary at Runaway Bay
  • Site consisted of a two storey high cream brick house
  • House was on two levels facing the water of an estuary
  • There was the dead end street (very little traffic) and a small grassed park that rolled down to the water of the estuary …. about 50 metres away from the house
  • The site already had some two storey high cocus palms plus a collection of Bangalow palms  and existing gardens at the front and back
  • Strategy:
  • Site survey plan …… mapped out the dimensions of the site
  • There was a series of initial plans before led to a concept drawing
  • Concept drawing was then confirmed with a sketch plan which   implementing with a design and construction  approach ….  Quote for the whole garden …. As the site was by seawater  estuary, the concept  began with  ideas of grey weathered planks and a driftwood theme which then went towards isolated upright driftwood posts interspersed with grey weathered decking …. Construction slowly over a month …. Ken Aitken onsite all the time creating within the plan concepts >>> fine tuning, decision making and organising different subcontractors and one labourer
  • The Physical Site and Siteworks: soil was a grey coastal sand from the original site  …..  so easy to dig out for moving the palms ….. The palms were relocated into new areas in the garden by the use a subcontractor using a special root cutting water blaster …. As the client’s  company owned  cranes, one lifted and relocated the palms into their new location … a cherry picker enabled Ken to go up to trim any palm fronds as cocus palms do not shed their fronds as do Bangalow palms  …. Vertical nature of the palms complements the vertical nature of the timber sculptures
  • Concrete Driveway: The existing grey concrete path was topped with a 50 mm  layer of new concrete laid out in swerved bands of different textured concrete: an aggregate pebble mix, an off white mix ….. Swerves setout with parallel bands of 50mm deep steel boxing strips ….. Swerves suggest the sorting surge of waves on  a sandy beach seeing the site was beside an estuary…. Ken closely worked with the concretor who hand mixed the different concrete mixes in a hand mixer over two days to facilitate the maximum setting time …. There was always the danger that the topping would lift off in time so a layer of bondcrete was applied to the existing concrete driveway to minimise this problem ….. this was applied progressively as the topping was applied
  • Timber Paving:  100 mm deep treated sleepers with trimmed edges were installed as an  informal cross-hatched pattern to the front door …. Edges of sleepers left uncut to increase the informality …..  paving wanders or drifts up to the front entry among the tall wooden sculptures which have powerful personal presence  ….. more than inanimate posts
  • Timber Sculptures: the client gave us an  introduction  to a neighbours block of land with some large dead trees on the site …. With cutting them into lengths, the client arrange transport to the site >>>…. >>>  sorting them then carefully marking out the positions from the plan in white lime >>>> holes dug with a truck mounted auger >>> then lifted into position >>>> then began a week long process of sculpturing the vertical  logs by  cutting with a chainsaw,  indentations, leaving squared knobs behind, steps, large cutouts and incisions in the posts + slots for the mailbox, incising a number for the property  …. Two large towering sculptures right on the entry to the property make a powerful  statement of an entry to an otherwise informal and very open garden … different heights in the sculptures  create interest  down to low ground  level planters …. .interest again the changing colours in the timber: the smooth grey of the natural wood merges with new red timber exposed …. .colour is complemented  by the changing surface textures: the smooth natural surface of the log, the sawn and worked new timber and incised,  curving and  striated  surface lines obtained  by using the tip of the chainsaw  ….. incising deeply and running the lines parallel  gave a personal organic and alive feel to the sculptures …. As though they had grown up out of the ground …. .also gave a Polynesian sculptured quality to them … not that it was intended  that way but as they were worked on creatively, this is the way they began coming out …. So I kept it going that way …. Old sea anchor given by the client added  to  the effect
  • Planting / Turfing: Planting the garden as subtropical garden: palms, the existing broad leaved plants, adding other broad leaved plants like alpinias, some colourful  shrubs like tropical rhododendrons and ixoras, low ground hugging native violets, storm lilies around the base of some of  the sculptures . …. All open areas turfed with fine leaved blue couch turf …..  embedded and pegged treated timber edges to all turf areas
  • Mulching: with 100 mm of forest chip mulch acts as an insulation blanket to all garden areas  …. Adds a softness to the garden and prevents weeds
  • Irrigation: An automatic irrigation systems means that  popup sprinklers and mini sprinklers in all the  garden areas keep all areas sufficiently moist by coming on at appointed times


Photographs from 1993 ….. taken soon after the job was finished.