Step Within a Stunning Nature-Inspired Sanctuary in South Australia
The stony, exposed ridge that overlooks South Australia’s Backstairs Passage and Kangaroo Island was an ideal place for artist Winnie Pelz to design and build her 452-square-foot studio, but the intense weather, unpredictable land and nosy wildlife proved a bit more difficult for a garden.
“It is an experiment that has taken me from my comfort zone and caused me to question my sanity occasionally,” she says. “Low rain, gale force winds, heavy clay soil filled with rocks, rampant rabbits, kangaroos and parrots have created a challenging garden environment.” But after a six-year battle with all the terrain, her sanctuary is finished, allowing her time to focus on painting. Along with the arrival of 20 species of birds to her garden has supplied welcomed inspiration.
Studio at a Glance
Who lives here: Winnie Pelz and her labrador-mastiff puppy Bristle
Location: Cape Jervis, South Australia
Size: Around 452 square feet (42 square meters)
Price: $25,000 AUD (approximately $23,115 USD)
The studio layout relies on a simple square with ample natural light for painting and views to the coast. For the studio, like her primary home, Pelz has selected colors and textures that meld in with the coastal environment. “I needed the studio to look as though it’d been there for the previous 50 years, achieved using mainly recycled materials,” Pelz says.
Laserlite is utilized for the front gable to let in additional light.
Douglas fir roof trusses initially from a wool drop dictate the design of the construction. The wood for the windows and doors are recycled, too.
A combustion wood fire keeps the studio cozy during harsh winters. Large windows bring in light and a feeling of connection with the wildlife and garden. The concrete slab flooring was created with a light colored sand and white concrete.
Pelz created a low-maintenance garden, such as a stone labyrinth, framed by a mixture of Australian indigenous and exotic plants. “The most successful natives are correas, grevilleas, casuarinas, westringias, hakeas,” she says. “Many of the plants are the ones that flourish in Mediterranean climatic states — olives, rosemary, irises, demanding old-fashioned roses, pelargoniums, and a vast assortment of succulents.”
Pelz’s 3-year-old puppy, Bristle, enjoys the view out to the coast. “Elements of the garden are deliberately designed, like the labyrinth,” says Pelz. “Other areas have grown organically and the planting options have been required to adapt as things have either thrived or expired.”
Pelz gets inspiration from the abundant birdlife brought by the native vegetation in addition to a small pond and a number of bird feeders. Here she exhibits a group of old wire cages.
The studio looks south towards Australia’s Kangaroo Island. The rock spiral was made from limestone found on the property.
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