Be­fore

NZ House & Garden - - GARDENS -

they built their place at Doc­tor’s Point, north of Dunedin, Colin and Leeann Thom would camp out on the land, drink­ing in the view of Blue­skin Bay from un­der can­vas. That sense of be­ing on hol­i­day never left them, even af­ter their house was fin­ished and they re­lo­cated their lives there.

Partly they can thank the set­ting for that, be­cause who wouldn’t feel serene, living be­side a beau­ti­ful ti­dal bay? But the in­nate tran­quil­lity of the site has been en­hanced by a sym­pa­thetic house de­sign and the vi­sion of land­scape designer Wayne But­son, who won the 2014 Land­scap­ing New Zealand Land­scape of the Year na­tional award for his work at the Thoms’ prop­erty.

It was a slightly un­usual com­mis­sion. Colin is prin­ci­pal of Colin Thom Builders (he and Wayne had worked to­gether on sev­eral res­i­den­tial projects) and han­dled all the hard el­e­ments, the paths, steps and re­tain­ing walls, while Wayne con­cen­trated on de­sign and plant­ing – “the green fluffy bits”, as he puts it.

The Thoms wanted an easy-care gar­den that fit­ted its site, where dozens of slen­der kanuka trees frame the view of the wa­ter. Oth­er­wise, Wayne was given an open brief. More than 1500 plants went in, with Wayne guided by his in­stincts rather than work­ing to draw­ings.

“Some­times be­ing fluid like that is a good idea. A lot of our work is done that way.”

Es­sen­tially, it’s a na­tive gar­den, but with sig­nif­i­cant ex­otic el­e­ments, a typ­i­cal ap­proach for Wayne, who is founder and direc­tor of Dunedin-based De­sign and Gar­den Land­scapes. >

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