A tale of two city gar­dens

Go Gardening - - Editorial -

de­signed that may be small on space, but de­liver big on wow fac­tor.

Tony re­cently over­hauled a Re­muera gar­den, which was not only tight on room, but fea­tured a huge swim­ming pool in the mid­dle of the gar­den, ob­scur­ing the en­trance and dom­i­nat­ing the space.

“It was a typ­i­cal in­ner city plot, small but it faced north, which was won­der­ful. The own­ers didn’t use the pool and knew they wanted to do some­thing with the space, but weren’t sure what. When I saw it, my im­me­di­ate thoughts were that the pool had to go and we could cre­ate three unique

gar­den rooms in its place. Through our con­ver­sa­tions I dis­cov­ered they liked the idea of hav­ing a rose gar­den, a peren­nial gar­den and a wood­land gar­den – all those things in Auck­land’s wet cli­mate!” he says.

Tony started from scratch, although there were some key el­e­ments al­ready present in the gar­den that needed to be worked around. “There were beau­ti­ful es­tab­lished trees and the house was charm­ing with lovely ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures, which spoke to how the gar­den should be, with its clas­sic, clean lines. There were also nu­mer­ous chal­lenges with the gar­den as it was. Some beds were heav­ily root im­pacted from large trees and the light was bet­ter in sum­mer than in win­ter. Ac­cess was com­pro­mised and the own­ers wanted a low main­te­nance space. From a de­sign per­spec­tive, I had to take all these fac­tors into ac­count when cre­at­ing the gar­den.”

Tony’s first job was to get rid of the pool and then work on how the gar­den rooms could in­ter­con­nect with each other in the re­sul­tant space.

“I de­con­structed part of the gar­den and cre­ated op­por­tu­ni­ties for new plant­ings within ex­ist­ing plant­ing schemes. Old tim­ber struc­tures were ren­o­vated and a paving el­e­ment was in­tro­duced. I con­vinced the own­ers to put in a tiny ar­ti­fi­cial lawn. I love turf, but it would never have es­tab­lished un­der the large oak tree.”

The gar­den’s colour pal­ette was ar­rived at through con­ver­sa­tions with the own­ers, find­ing out they loved roses and in par­tic­u­lar, the yel­low David Austin climb­ing rose ‘Gra­ham Thomas’.

“Most peo­ple steer clear of yel­low, but keep­ing the rose was non­nego­tiable, so we used it as a start­ing point for a theme – shades of lime green, dark green, white and blue can quite hap­pily meet ‘Gra­ham’ in the gar­den.”

For the plant­ing scheme, Tony re­lied on “all de­sign­ers’ favourites”. “In shady parts I’ve planted daphne and helle­bores and in the rose gar­den there’s a col­lec­tion of David Austin and hy­brid tea roses. I also used Teu­crium fru­ti­cans, which is great for for­mal or in­for­mal hedg­ing. In the hot, dry part of the gar­den I used bearded irises and laven­der. All the clas­sics.”

Tony says it’s im­por­tant that a gar­den is a re­flec­tion of the peo­ple who own it and not of the de­signer. “The own­ers of this gar­den had a favourite Karl Maughan paint­ing of Rhodo­den­drons and while I couldn’t plant Rhodo­den­drons in the gar­den, I could paint the gar­den in the same colours – paint­ing us­ing plants.”

Size doesn't mat­ter when it comes to gar­dens. Small out­door spa­ces can be dra­matic, beau­ti­ful and in­ter­est­ing.


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