Beci Orpin’s Meadow-Inspired Studio Garden (In Brunswick!)

It’s no secret Melbourne’s inner north is a hotspot for creatives, including Beci Orpin — illustrator, designer, and artist extraordinaire — who’s been working from a playful shared studio space in Brunswick since 2022.

But what you might not expect to find between the graffiti-lined back streets is the surprisingly lush, meadow-like garden hidden just beyond Beci’s studio, created with the help of garden designer Jimmy Sing.

A diverse mix of native plants, flowering perennials, and leafy foliage has turned this once-weed-ridden space into a naturalistic urban oasis that reflects Beci’s joyful energy!

Christina Karras

This lush garden is hidden at the rear of Beci Orpin’s shared creative studio in Brunswick.

The new lush and layered plants soften the quintessentially Melbourne backdrop.

Garden designer Jimmy Sing and creative Beci Orpin. Beci sits on the ‘Good One’ bench seat by Tait.

The garden is naturalistic in style, using only gravel to create soft pathways throughout the abundant greenery.

A small space for gathering is enclosed dense, layered plantings. Blue ‘Good One’ bench seat by Tait.

Perennials like yellow coneflowers (Rudbeckia) and orange blaze (Kniphofia) bring joyful pops of colour.

Parts of the garden bask in full sun all year round, while the other side is shaded by the neighbour’s large warehouse wall.

This inspired Jimmy to create a grassland area that can withstand the harsh western sun and a shade-loving woodland section.

Longhair plume grass (Dichelachne Crinita) features alongside kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) and other natives.

Jimmy designed the area which I look out to from my desk to be meadow-like, in the spring and summer it has loads of flowers, all at different heights. It’s pretty magic to look out at whilst I’m working.

Beci Orpin

‘Rather than think about any colour scheme, I’ve generally been led by contrasting foliage forms and let the seasons dictate the colours,’ Jimmy says.

It means the garden comes alive with yellows, oranges and blues in spring, while the summer-autumn period has more pinks, whites, and purples.

Beci and Jimmy stand amongst leafy foliage, with ‘billys buttons’ (Pycnosorus Globosus) and sea holly (Eryngium) below.

‘In selecting plants for Beci, I knew I could go with the more radical, outrageous forms of colour — a little bit of discordance is energising!’

The garden is pretty large for the inner-city area, spanning about 12 metres by 12 metres.

Jimmy designed a meadow-like area that Beci can look out to from her desk every day!

Christina Karras
15th of January 2024
Landscape Design

Brunswick, VIC/Wurundjeri Country

When Beci Orpin first moved into this Brunswick studio space and discovered a huge garden at the rear, she knew she had to make it into ‘something special.’

She had already renovated the inside of the playful workspace — styling it with chunky furniture, cute trinkets, and pops of colour — when a friend suggested she engage local garden designer Jimmy Sing to revive the outdoor area.

‘I really loved the ‘wild meadow’ style gardens like those from Piet Oudolf, using a mix of grasses and flowering plants,’ Beci says. ‘Once I met Jimmy, he had lots of other good references and inspiration, and from there I just left it in his very capable hands.’

The space was an empty lot with waist-high weeds, but Jimmy (patiently) tackled the extensive weed removal organically to make way for the new planting scheme. In addition to taking inspiration from famous naturalistic garden designers from around the world, the design was influenced by our local bushland surrounds.

‘There’s nothing like the beauty of how plants choose to organise themselves,’ Jimmy says.

‘I wanted to take those principles and bend them [to suit] Beci. Her illustrations always have a brilliant use of colour and she’s always creating fun googly-eyed personalities out of plants. So I wanted to select lots of big characters for this garden and extend the playfulness of Beci’s studio into the garden!’

Jimmy created a large circular area for gathering, enclosed by dense and layered plantings that continue in abundance throughout the garden.

Indigenous plants (like Kangaroo and Longhair Plume grasses, Rock Isotomes and Billy Buttons) are grouped alongside selections from the Mediterranean, South Africa and North American prairie plants that all enjoy a similar climate.

‘The garden is designed to have major changes in colour, form, texture and feature throughout the year. I’ve used a lot of flowering perennials that have this huge annual growth, then they turn to brown and black skeletons in winter, and you cut them back for it all to start again,’ Jimmy says.

Other than gravel that lines the softly defined pathways, the plants have been allowed to grow freely, creating an intimate, dreamy, and transportive place that’s also bought new life to a very urban setting.

The flowers have attracted ladybirds, dragon flies and bees, and birds are often hiding in the surrounding shrubs amongst the evergreen wattle trees (like Mahonias and Euphorbias) that line the boundaries.

It’s been about a year since they first planted the garden. Beci says she often finds Jimmy ‘pottering out there’, while she looks out from her desk to the towering flowers that are in full bloom this summer.

‘It’s pretty magic site to look out at whilst I’m working. And it looks beautiful in every season,’ she adds.

Beci’s garden is available to hire for photoshoots and will also be taking enquires for small functions — get in touch here.

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