PLANT OF THE MONTH //. Swamp Banksia

PLANT OF THE MONTH //. Swamp Banksia 

Botanical name: Banksia robur

Origin: Australia 

Name meaning: 

Banksia - after Sir Joseph Banks, the British botanist who travelled with Captain James Cook;

robur - strength, probably referring to the robust nature of the plant.

The Swamp Banksia is a dramatic shrub. With large stiff serrated leaves and a changing texture as it ages this plant looks stunning at all stages of growth.  It has an appearance of mid-green to pale green and feather-like yellowing of older leaves as well as the changing colour of flowers. Occurring naturally in swamps along the coast and nearby plateaus of New South Wales and Queensland, despite this it is a highly adaptable plant in the garden and will thrive in a great variety of soils and situations. 

Image credit

Image credit

HOT TIP: Full sun is required for good flowering. 

Just like us, wildlife such as nectar eating birds, insects and butterflies enjoy spending time with this cheeky fella. So call us on 9966 8630 and you too can join us. 

A PROJECT IN FOCUS //. The Three Capes Track, Tasmania

Nestled in the dramatic landscape of Tasmania’s Tasman Peninsula is the Three Capes Track. Along this track, three elegant shelters sit effortlessly. Designed by JAWS ARCHITECTS a Hobart based studio the complex project needed to consider bushfire, bird strike, and salt spray as well as the surrounding landscape and experience for the visitor. JAWS reflect upon their design,  “Our sensitive sustainable design has produced refined, unassuming structures that sit lightly within the landscape and provide an opportunity for people to experience this precious and raw environment in safety and comfort”. 

Grace, our junior landscape architect was lucky enough to experience the huts and the 46kms of thoughtful & considered walking track in the Tasman National Park. The wildflowers & orchids were out and about. We could describe the majesty of this track to the specked marks on the dolomite coastal cliffs, however as they say, a picture says a thousand words so sit back relax and meander through the images. 

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There is a growing trend of change towards the thinking behind our food and energy systems. Urban agriculture aims to alleviate some of the pressure placed on these systems by cutting out the cost of transportation from rural towns to the city, as well as utilising seemingly ‘forgotten’ spaces such as roof tops. 

Brooklyn Grange blog Outdoor Establishments


Brooklyn Grange is planting the way as the leading rooftop and farming intensive green roofing business in the United States. With two roof tops in New York City and over 22679 kg of organically-cultivated produce per year, Brooklyn Grange operate the world’s largest rooftop soil farms promoting health and strong local communities. Not only do they grow a myriad of produce including tomatoes, kale, cucumbers, turnips, radishes and mixed herbs, they also apiary, with over 30 honey bee hives calling the farm home. 

Brooklyn Grange blog Outdoor Establishments NYC

Brooklyn Grange Farm is for the true green thumb where construction of the permanent raised beds is hand cultivated in an attempt to prevent minimal soil disturbance. If you are interested in creating your very own veggie patch, big or small, we can help! Call our office on 9966 8630 to get your very own paddock to plate experience. 

AT OUTDOOR ESTABLISHMENTS //. Visit to Exotic Nurseries

There are many delights when designing gardens and landscapes, but one stands out and it is able to tickle all the senses. A visit to Exotic Nurseries! Exotic is OE's primary grower and art supply store. Grace, our graduate Landscape Architect and Sam, one of our Directors hit the road and headed out to visit Paul, Exotic's main man and his plants. Whilst on the nursery grounds Grace and Sam explored some of Exotic's finest, from Magnolia 'Teddy Bear' to the well know Fiddle Leaf fig as well as an impressive selection of succulents and cacti, they were giddy with the excitement of discovery. 

Quality is key and extremely important to us. Our relationship with Paul enables us to visit regularly and discuss freely the right plants for your garden projects. It also ensures that you are receiving not only the finest plants but keeps us accountable to our designs and challenges the types of plants we use as well as how they are used. We are always striving to create gardens of personality and finding the right plant to make your space feel like home.

Favourites from the day. 

Grace was in awe of the striking form of the Agave gemminiflora

Agave gemminiflora at Exotic Nurseries

Agave gemminiflora at Exotic Nurseries


Whilst, Sam's top pick was the Kalanchoe beharensis

Kalanchoe beharensis

Kalanchoe beharensis

PLANT OF THE MONTH //. Giant Bromeliad

Botanical name: Alcantarea imperialis

Origin: Brazil 

This eye-catching Bromeliad may take it’s time to reach it’s full size of up to 1.5m across but each stage of growth allows for it’s vibrant colour to become richer and deeper. The flower spike of the Alcantarea imperialis can reach 2.5m in height and is full of tiny white flowers. This floral arrangement creates a stunning contrast to the plants foliage which are often colourful, slightly ribbed and feel leathery at touch. Originating from Brazil and happily growing in the mountains close to Rio de Janeiro at an elevation of up to 1500m above sea level, these guys prefer well drained loamy soil, don’t need great soil depth and require very little maintenance. There are many varieties and they are a versatile and visually striking plant, perfect for pots, garden beds, around pools and on patios and balconies. 

Outdoor Establishments Garden Design Idea Blog BromeliadOutdoor Establishments Garden Design Idea Blog Bromeliad


Top Tip: Keep an eye out for ‘pups’ around the base when the plant flowers, these can be separated and replanted. 

Outdoor Establishments Bromeliad Garden Ideas Blog

Do you love the Giant Bromeliad as much as we do? Call our office on 99668630 for a plants chat with one of our designers. 

DESIGN TIPS //. FURNITURE Built in vs. Settings

On these hot summer days we spend most of our time soaking up that gorgeous summer sun. Whether you are enjoying a warm read in peace or entertaining the whole cricket team post game you want to make sure that you have the right furniture to accomodate your needs, space and budget. Trystan shares his top tips when trying to make decisions about outdoor furniture. 

  1. Cost. Your budget will determine what is achievable. Custom built / built in furniture is expensive, but is often a great way to integrate the furniture into the overall garden design and will allow you to keep a consistent materials palette. If you are looking at buying an 'off the shelf' setting, remember this furniture will be exposed to the elements and can deteriorate quickly if the quality is not of a high standard. You can still pick up some great furniture on a budget but consider buying a cover to ensure longevity.
  2. Space Saving. A cantilevered bench built into the retaining wall is a lot more space efficient than the chunky 8-piece setting. Think about the space you wish to create and how the furniture will impact on movement and circulation. Often round settings work best in a tight space. 
  3. Versatility. Built in furniture lacks versatility and is obviously very permanent. Opt for something that matches your entertaining requirements as well as your day to day outdoor leisure needs. Extendable tables are great for people who entertain in both small and large numbers. Light weight settings constructed out of powder-coated steel can be easily removed to open up the space. If you are looking for a more relaxed vibe, consider bean bags.
  4. Maintenance. Both options will require some maintenance depending on the material and location. Carefully consider your needs when selecting your furniture items. Timber and fabrics are the most sensitive materials and will require yearly maintenance. Steel and concrete are extremely durable and apart from the occasional wipe down require almost no attention after purchase. 
  5. Moving House. This one is a no-brainer. You have to ask yourself, can you let go of that beautiful built in off-form concrete bench if you move house?! In this situation a furniture setting is the way to go.
  6. The Design. It is here that a built in setting can be the true winner. The piece can be seamlessly incorporated into the garden design where materials can play off each other, and the location, form and function can complement or contrast. The choice is yours. 
Outdoor Establishments Custom Outdoor Furniture Palm Beach, Sydney

Our custom designed, site specific, bench and table at one of our Palm Beach Gardens. Here the client needed a secure setting that could withstand the coastal conditions and was theft proof. Our solution, off-form concrete supports, steel frame and hardwood tops and back supports.  

Want to chat with one of our designers? Give the Outdoor Establishments Design Studio a call 02 9966 8630.


The Perfect BBQ.

They come in all shapes and sizes, and no we aren't talking about budgie smugglers on Bondi Beach. Designing the perfect BBQ / outdoor kitchen can be challenging so we are sharing our top secret tips for outdoor entertaining this summer.

  1. Durability. Consider the position and usage of the BBQ and choose it’s materiality to match. It is important to select a bench top that can tolerate grease, grime and weather. Concrete is a great material and a popular option at the moment, but make sure to select the right sealer for it’s longevity and ease of cleaning.
  2. Simplicity. Consider how close is the BBQ to the kitchen. This will help you decide on what is a necessity to include, a BBQ unit and bench space may be everything you need. This process becomes cost effective and maximises usable backyard space as it wont be taken up with sinks, fridges and storage. Remember, Keep it simple. 
  3. Space. Give yourself room to socialise, provision for people to sit and chat is always a lot more enjoyable when the chef can be apart of the action. This will also allow for the meal of the day to be cooked to perfection. 
Outdoor Establishments BBQ

Need help designing your new outdoor kitchen or BBQ area? Give the Outdoor Establishments Design Studio a call 02 9966 8630.

PLANT OF THE MONTH //. African Candelabra

Botanical name: Euphorbia ammak var. variegata

Origin: Saudi Arabia and Yemen 

Pronounced yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee a-mmmm-aaaa-a-cK. 

Looks can be deceiving as this thorny branched, candelabra shaped succulent hits the OE spotlight for the month. Superficially resembling a cactus, this guy has some killer needle-like barbs that are borne on vertical ridges and divide its upright branches into four or five segments. The thick stems of the African Candelabra are filled with copious amounts of white latex sap which is unpalatable to large herbivores. Despite all of this, this plant has beauty like you would not believe. Its textured edges illuminate greens, yellows and blues as its performance both indoors and outdoors is high, yet grow best in well drained soils. In spring, mature plants produce clusters of yellow flowers at the tips of the branches, which mature into small, green fruits. African Candelabra love to play with the sun, as the sun moves the plants shadow dances, twisting and turning into abstract forms inviting you to join in. 

Image sourced from Pinterest

Image sourced from Pinterest


We are now taking dance lessons with the African candelabra for 2017. For bookings please call our office on 99668630. 


On Friday the 16th of December, the whole OE crew, design, construction and maintenance came together to celebrate Christmas and our achievements this year. We began the day with an activity, PANIQ Room. We quickly broke into two teams via a coin toss and found ourselves being led into rooms filled with puzzles, locks and codes. Different personalities traits excited the game but we are pleased to say that both teams worked together and escaped with minutes to spare. From here we moved onto a delicious lunch at Kingsley’s on King Street. The food was delicious yet the conversation was the highlight. 

Overall, we had a wonderful day and are looking forward to starting 2017 fresh eyed and bushy tailed. Thank you to everyone who supported us this year. 

Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2017 from the entire Outdoor Establishments team.


Combining Dutch heritage and international architecture, MVRDV’s ‘Crystal houses’ for CHANEL’s flagship store in Amsterdam mimics the original townhouse facade of the building with the extensive use of glass bricks. Located on the PC Hooft-straat, Amsterdam’s only luxury brand street, Crystal Houses provides a solution to high end retail driven streets without the loss of the local character and personality. The original design, down to the layering of the bricks and details of the window complies with zoning laws and meets retail design needs for a window shop front. 

Image Source: Archdaily

Image Source: Archdaily


“We said to the client – Let’s bring back what will be demolished but develop it further” explains Winy Maas, architect and co-founder of MVRDV. “Crystal Houses make space for a remarkable flagship store, respect the structure of the surroundings and bring a poetic innovation in glass construction. It enables global brands to combine the overwhelming desire of transparency with a couleur locale and modernity with heritage. It can thus be applied everywhere in our historic centres.” -  Source: MVRDV

Image Source: MVRDV

Image Source: MVRDV

Leading the way in craftsmanship, it took a team of experts working 365 days of the year in what was more of a laboratory than a construction site. The bricks themselves are individually cast and UV bonded with a transparent adhesive to cement bricks. This technique allows the building to be structurally sound without the need for a more traditional mortar. Strength tests conducted by the Delft University of Technology team concluded that the glass facade is stronger than concrete. If this isn't enough, greater thinking of construction methods unearthed additional possibilities for future construction, such as the melting down and re-moulding of the bricks for a new life. In the event of any damage, repair-protocols allow for the replacement of individual bricks. If this isn't enough, a ground source heat pump allows for optimal indoor climate throughout the year, ensuring the balance of energy usage. 

Image Source: Archdaily

Image Source: Archdaily


At OE, we think that this progressive approach to design, sensitivity to materials and accuracy of craftsmanship is Jaw-Dropping. We will be keeping our eyes open for opportunities to use new materials and continue to provide exciting design solutions.