The Circa 1886 open space reserve is located within Stage 1 of the recently developed estate in Clyde North. The estate has been designed to complement the adjacent gardenesque Eyrecourt Homestead (1886) which overlooks the reserve.
The masterplan for the estate establishes the landscape character for the subdivision, responding to, and strongly influenced by the Eyrecourt homestead and its hilltop location. The Stage 1 open space reserve is located opposite the heritage site and acts to extend the heritage site into the development through the clever use of a ha-ha wall. The steep garden batter and 1.0m high wall hides the estate entry road creating a seamless view of rolling gardens down from the heritage site to the one hectare open space reserve that is designed to complement and continue the homestead's picturesque landscape style.
It is believed that the gardens of the original homestead were designed by William Guilfoyle who was the Director of the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens from 1873 to 1908 and was responsible for a number of regional botanic and private gardens. The stage 1 reserve design, including planting and material palette, is inspired by the existing homestead and gardens and aspires to be a contemporary interpretation of the picturesque style.
A feature of William Guilfoyle’s designs was the erection of detailed structures and follies. Such structures add picturesque charm to the landscape, highlighting points of visual interest along a network of paths. Tract closely collaborated with artists to develop a number of intricate pieces throughout the reserve. These art pieces include the central shelter, feature fencing, seating, hand rails, interpretive signage and entry nodes with artist Bent Metal and the ‘Grotto Shelter’ play piece with artists Honeyweather and Speight. These art pieces create a network of focal points throughout the park with interest points on multiple scales and layers of the design. Each piece has been carefully designed to complement the homestead's picturesque landscape style and acknowledge the sites indigenous flora and fauna.
Key long views from the homestead to the surrounding countryside are retained within the reserve design. A key view from the reserve to the homestead is also orchestrated within the park's pathway network. An interpretive signage piece describing the historic homestead is situated at this view point. Stone retaining walls are utilised to maximise useable open space and there is an emphasis on informal vistas, sweeping lawns, meandering paths, garden spaces and plants, and defined edges. Along with wide and spacious prospects the reserve's layout also provides areas of intimate scale and surprise, particularly within the Rain Gully zone where topography, formed stone edges and plants create a series of small spaces for rest and play. The reserve provides recreational opportunities and play spaces for all ages through the inclusion of manufactured play pieces and the integration of play elements within the reserve design.
The planting layout for the reserve plays a significant role in subtly defining spaces and is heavily inspired by the Victorian era homestead and its surrounding garden of mature Oaks, Elms, Araucarias and Monterey Pines. The planting design draws on Guilfoyle’s approach to planting within the Royal Botanic Gardens with species included for their architectural foliage, colour, scent and texture. Plant species and grouping are used to define spaces or zones including an Oak lawn and Rain Gully.