Friday, 29 May 2009

Revamping Existing Gardens

Existing gardens can sometimes appear more daunting than a new garden with a blank slate. However, if you can look beyond the obvious and find the parts of the garden that work, they often have good 'bones' which can provide the initial structure and inspiration to smarten up an otherwise uninspiring outdoor space.

The above garden had great 'bones' with a stream running through the centre of the property - however the house felt completely detached from it. We broadened the steps and continued them to the waters edge to provide connection to the stream. We also replaced worn pavers with coloured concrete with decorative cuts to give a greater feeling of space and a more modern look. To create a reason to visit the rest of the clients garden, we designed a pergola over the bridge (painted to give a lift). These simple changes, along with simplifying some of the planting, edging the gardens and painting the walls, transformed this garden into a attractive, usable space.

This next example of a revamped courtyard used raised macrocarpa retaining to define the area and establish a second level that linked the courtyard with the steep bank above. The retaining also provided additional seating for times when extra visitors are around.
Bold, simplistic planting creates a backdrop to the courtyard including evergreen magnolia, black flax and edging of tight green hebes giving year round colour. The planting is reversed in a garden opposite with silver foliaged astelia and green mossy scleranthus edged with deep red heuchera.
Natural materials such as macrocarpa, concrete pavers and gravel soften the formal layout of the courtyard and ensure it doesn’t look out of place in the natural setting of the surrounding landscape.

This last example, is a Wanaka holiday house where the client wanted to create an outdoor living area where they could spill onto when there house was full for the summer holidays. The client loved colour and bold lines.
We created a series of circular areas of lawn and concrete for outdoor living. A curved (purple) block wall retains the garden behind the courtyard and creates both seating and a feature wall to frame this area.
We used the doors of the house to align with focal points using gravel and sleeper ground surfacing that lead to a feature tree. The client provided us with old farm posts which we staggered amongst the planting in a sculptural fashion. Finally, a broad pathway of insitu concrete with gravel border created a bold entrance to the property.

Friday, 22 May 2009


Courtyards are often created as the hub of the outdoor entertaining area. A well designed courtyard can become an extension of the house and essentially create an additional 'outdoor room'.
We often encourage people to have two courtyards to allow them to use the area most appropriate to the time of day or the time of year. Walls or hedges can be used to create a backdrop and define the courtyard space while also providing shelter and privacy.
Shade is a very important factor to consider in a courtyard and there are many options including; umbrellas, shade sails, trees and pergolas. Whatever you choose, the shade structure should complement the house style and materials.
BBQs are also an integral part of most kiwi courtyards. Consider having a defined place for the BBQ to park so that it is not just 'floating' in the courtyard or build the BBQ top into a bench.
A courtyard is like an interior room and similarly can be decorated to suit the house style and your taste. Consider colour on walls, outdoor fabric swabs & cushions, outdoor fires/heaters, and furniture such as bean bags and sofas. There are many options for the finishing of ground surfacing also such as; paving, coloured concrete, exposed aggregate, gravels and decking.
Outdoor living is an important part of our lifestyle so it is worth putting an effort into planning this space as you would any room within your home.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Focal Points

Focal points within a garden can be used to add interest, frame views, or create a reason to venture into an area that would otherwise be unused.
We're lucky in the Wanaka & Central Otago area to live within an amazing landscape with no shortage of impressive views. Therefore, in many of our gardens, it is not necessary to create a focal point within the garden itself, but to frame & emphasise vistas and views of the outer landscape. This can be achieved in a number of ways, from framing through a pergola, arch or window, to more subtle emphasis through planting of avenues and structuring planting to allow glimpses of important view shafts.
Sculpture is another way we can add charm & interest within the garden. There are a number of fantastic sculptors & environmental artists within New Zealand or, if you are feeling creative, don't be afraid to explore your own ideas to give a personal touch to your garden.
Water features can also be a powerful way to bring purpose to an area of your garden. Water features can be either very naturalistic or quite abstract depending on the style of your garden/house and your own preference. When creating a natural looking water feature (as above) it is important to get the scale right so that the pool or cascade appears realistic and doesn't become dwarfed by the surroundings. Also, an important consideration in Central Otago is what the water feature will look like in winter as pumps will need to be switched off to avoid pipes freezing.
Other focal point ideas include; outdoor fires, feature walls, pots/urns, specimen trees or even a simple seat... the possibilities are endless!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Productive Gardens

Aesthetics & productive gardens don't need to be mutually exclusive. In these garden examples we have integrated vegetables, herbs & fruit trees within the garden, rather than the traditional thought of tucking this part of the garden "out the back".

Raised potager style vegetable gardens are a great way to keep vegetable gardens looking tidy & are very practical if they are kept to a width so that you can easily reach to the center of each plot. We often design these out of macrocarpa sleepers because it is not treated and waterproof the inside to preserve the wood.
Herbs & vegetables can also be scattered amongst your general garden in particular more attractive species such as Rosemary, Artichokes & Silver Beet.
Fruit trees, in particular stone fruit, grow great in our region. Pruning fruit trees properly can be difficult so a great alternative is to espalier them. Espaliered fruit trees allows the fruit to get maximum sunlight and pruning is as easy as removing any branches that aren't growing along the wire. Grapes also grow well in this area and can be trained over a pergola or between posts like vineyards. Just be wary of where you plant grape vines so that they are not in high use areas as they tend to attract wasps!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Tiritiri Lodge

This week we are featuring a garden from the Wanaka Festival of Colour Garden Tour - Tiritiri Lodge. Georgie designed this garden in 2005 and since then it has evolved through both the dedication and passion of the client and further inspiration from Georgie.
From the street, simplistic planting of native tussock berms, retained by stone feature walls, compliments the bold architectural design of this luxury boutique lodge and settle it into the Wanaka landscape.
Subtle mounding & winding paths of local river stone meander around the garden leading the explorer through a series of private garden spaces, from the herb garden to the hot tub house where decking is cantilevered out over a pond with a dramatic cascading waterfall.
Tiritiri Lodge showcases some of New Zealand's unique alpine and native plants. However, the seasonal changes so spectacular in Central Otago are not forgotten with the combination of exotic trees such as dogwoods, maples, magnolias and fruit trees quite at home among the natives.
Throughout the garden levels are cleverly defined and create many informal seating opportunities & rooms which give guests the opportunity to explore & relax within this tranquil setting.
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