Grounds: Cafe Gardens & Garden Cafes

Abode Cafe

Long ago when I was a struggling student, Taringa was a festering cesspit of rickety hovels and grim brick sixpacks, clustered cheek by jowl in the lowlands behind the Chinese restaurant on Moggill Road, untouched by sun in winter, or air in summer.

Actually, I’m pretty sure that was probably just the parts of Taringa that my colleagues and I could afford, a thought that occurred to me as I travelled along graceful Stanley Terrace recently, on my way to visit Abode Café.

Abode is part of the Hillsdon Road shops, the sort of corner enclave that every suburb needs, and sadly, every suburb used to have before shopping centres completely wiped them out.

The Hillsdon Road shops have been recently reinvigorated with a corner store, laundromat, art studio, pet pamperers, and more.

Even man's best friend can bubble bath in a garden setting...

Even man's best friend can bubble bath in a garden setting...

Abode occupies one stretch of the corner site.

Inside there’s a banquette with a clutch of tables, and a not-too-scary communal table. There are flowers on the counter, and plants in jars and pots tucked here and there.

Outside is the garden courtyard.

More tables and chairs gather on the lawn and bricks, under umbrellas, and shaded by trees.

Pooches lie about while their humans read the papers, occasionally nipping off for a drink of their own.

Herbs bask in the sun, within a few steps reach of the kitchen.

It’s all perfectly delightful, and let me tell you, on a glorious autumn morning, the place was heaving. Minutes after these shots were taken, so was every seat in the house.

If you’re into coffee, they use Black Sheep. If you like homemade jams and the like, they’re available too. They do gluten free and dairy free fodder.

The menu is small but delicious - hello savoury mince, my old friend - and the staff, led by owner Bronwyn, are supremely friendly and unflappable. They even offered to turn off the fluoro lights in the kitchen if I preferred that for my photos!

With charms like this, it’s pretty easy to see why so many are making Abode’s courtyard garden their home away from home.



Note: Abode is at 30 Hillsdon Road, Taringa. Open 7:30am-3:00pm.  Check the Hillsdon Road Shops' blog for more info. PT users can catch the 415 bus to the doorstep.

Design Class: learning to love the scale

Have you ever had a designer ask what you think of the scale? Has it given you pause for concern, filling your mind with dread at the thought that last night’s seven course degustation with matching wine flight is already showing round your middle?

Fear not.

The type of scale we’re talking about here is nowhere near as scary as the ‘number-climbing-higher’ machines that we keep hidden in the bathroom so they don’t steal our will to live.

This type of scale should be treated with respect though, as it also has the ability to make you feel either very comfortable or very uncomfortable in a space.

Scale describes how something – a building, chair, tree, sculpture - sits in relation to its context. Something is called ‘out of scale’ when it’s perceived to be either too big or too small for its location, causing the overall effect to appear out of balance.

Let’s say you were considering adding a fountain of some sort to your courtyard garden, fed from recycled water you’d collected. Here’s your garden now…

...and here are two options for your fountain.

Option 1

...and Option 2:


What do you think?

You might feel that the first fountain is ‘out of scale’ because it is too small, and barely draws attention to itself.

You might also feel that the second fountain is also ‘out of scale’, this time for being too big, overwhelming the space and threatening to drench you whenever you walk past.

The right scale fountain for your garden is probably somewhere in between the two.

What happens though, if you quite like the dramatic effect of that great big fountain?

Is it OK to play around with scale?

Sure, if that helps you create the effect you’re after.

Say you spend a lot of time reading in the garden and drinking cups of tea – it’s what you do to relax.

You might deliberately choose to have an over-size (‘out of scale’) garden chair to celebrate your favourite thing.

Scale is one of the many Spatial Qualities you have available to create the house, garden, park or city you love.

Once you start noticing the scale of different elements and spaces, you’ll feel clearer about what you consider to be 'in' or 'out' of scale, and can more confidently engage in the design process for your project.

Now it’s over to you.

Have you ever visited a place (maybe a garden or a park) and noticed that one or more elements was out of scale? How did this affect your experience and what do you think would have improved it?

Let me know in the comments section.

Of course, if you found this interesting and useful don’t forget to share with a friend, and I’ll see you soon for more Design 101.