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Secret Garden

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A home’s unusual configuration gives rise to a green haven with an intensely private garden at its core

Text by Audrey Teoh
Information courtesy of Aamer Architects
Photography by Amir Sultan

The idea of a tropical garden retreat implies a rambling, lush environment in a remote location. Discovering such a space within a normal suburban neighbourhood seems a stretch of imagination, but this Jalan Merlimau home is a testament that the right vision can make it a reality.

With a narrow entrance from the street and a tight, triangular site, the home required an unconventional approach, leading to an L-shaped configuration. Taking full advantage of this, the home was designed to focus inwards, oriented towards a triangular private garden situated at the heart of the home, a private space shielded from casual observance and completely hidden from the street.

Within, the cultivation of a lush, mature garden creates an enveloping sense of greenery which wards off the rest of the world beyond its borders. Once inside, past the free-standing timber-cladded wall which precedes the main entrance, it’s easy to forget that the street is just a few metres away as you are immersed in a world of oversized ferns, shrubs, flowering trees and other assortments of greenery.

To allow further enjoyment of the garden, timber decking placed strategically just beyond glass doors bring the outdoor and indoor environment closer together.

The privacy of the home and its residents are further protected by the narrow street entrance. However, even this challenge was turned into a unique design opportunity, with the creation of an imposing mono-pitch roof which begins as the roof porch and stretches all the way to the attic, creating a seamless effect. With its supporting steel structure and a generous skylight in its centre to provide natural illumination, the roof makes a memorable first impression on visitors while also screening the house from the street, granting additional privacy without sacrificing light and space.

Garden Helpers
Starting a garden from scratch can be tough, especially if you don’t know where to start. Whether you choose to start small or intend to break the bank, some expert advice can save a lot of time, trouble and heartbreak.

The simplest thing to do at the onset is to observe which plants and shrubs thrive in your friends’ gardens, and ask them for cuttings or shoots you can plant at home. If you’re getting them from nurseries, get their advice based on the type of garden you have and how much time you spend on it, then be sure to ply them with questions on how best to care for whatever plants they’ve recommended.

For larger spaces, a landscape specialist should be considered, but if that isn’t an option, online resources can help point you in the right direction. To get some great ideas and expert advice, or just a piece of advice or personal insight, look to bloggers, forums, portals or professional services. Regardless of where they are based, look for inspiration from these sites:
• www.essentialgardenguide.com
• www.aguafina.com
• www.houzz.com
• www.helpfulgardener.com



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