Monday, December 17, 2012


Merry Christmas!!
I suspect I won't get another chance to write before Christmas. Just a few more days until I knock-off work for a few weeks. Finishing off garden plans, and checking new plantings is on my cards this week, then: Christmas, the waterfall, books, beach, family, garden - just  few of the personal treasures I see in my near future!! Wishing you all a fantastic holiday season, and a very happy New Year.
See you back here in 2013!!!

What could be more Christmassy than Christmas
Lilies?? They are in full flower outside and IN my office.....

Back In Pizza Mode

Yum! Had only the third pizza session of the season on Saturday night with just some of my visiting family there to share it with. This is my sister Ali making the superb combo of smoked salmon, camembert, capers, etc. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Dining alfresco by the waterfall, in the setting sun, with lovely company - what better way to spend a Saturday evening???

Monday, November 19, 2012

Glenwood Masonic Hospital Gardens

Lancewoods and mini toitoi (Chionochloa flavicans) in C4
I have just taken a heap of garden photos at Glenwood Masonic Hospital, and updated the page (see right hand column). After more than 2 years, it is so exciting to compare photos of the fresh planting, with how the gardens have evolved and developed to today. We are lucky to still do the garden maintenance there, too, which has meant I can train vines, and add plants etc to keep things in line with my original design intent. This has been such a fulfilling garden to develop. The private courtyards remain my favourite areas, with all four having a different planting and colour theme. Keeps things more interesting than all the same formula!!

Courtyard Four - NZ native theme, with mostly foliage contrasts and bird attracting plants, rather than lots of flower colour. This garden has really filled in, helping create a secluded garden environment. The feeling is more tranquil than the other three more colourful courtyards.

Courtyard Three (below) - lots of pinks, purples and white for flower colour. Some of the original plants from the old Glenwood site were transplanted into this courtyard, including these paeonies, and also some Memorial Iceberg Roses.

Below, one of the seating areas alongside the public footpath that will eventually be screened from the street by a hornbeam hedge and the dark Physocarpus 'Shady Lady' shrubs seen here on the left.

Courtyard One (below) - dark red foliage, with mostly scarlet and white flowers, make this quite different from the other three courtyards. All the courtyards have trees within them that will help soften the stark concrete walls.

Alstromeria and Geum
 Courtyard Two (below) lots of purples, blues and yellows
Rhododendron 'Bumblebee' looks fantastic with yellow!

Yellow, blue and purple in mid spring, C2

Screen planting to diffuse the effect of so much concrete (below)
Screening of vehicles is starting to happen

Car park gardens have filled in nicely after 2+ years

Monday, November 12, 2012

Contrasting Design Styles

As a designer, I don't want to be pigeon-holed into one particular look as being 'my style'. Certainly, I have styles I prefer, but my number one priority is to express the personality of the client. I have had a lovely time this year designing completely different styles of garden for several clients. This one is one of my favourites. Can't wait to see it develop.

During construction and planting. 

Freshly finished

Out the front, about 5 months later

Gorgeous sculpture/focal point adds another
element to the garden. The owners chose
this - it has fairy lights inside it. 
The owners didn't want any flowers, basically, and if there had to be flowers, they must be white. Mostly to be native NZ plants. Okay - very different from my latest designs, but so much fun to design! It is more of a challenge to create interest and variety without flowers, that is for sure, but I think the end result is just great. Plant forms, and leaf colour and texture contrasts are features of the planting. Lots more hard landscaping (walls and planter boxes) than I usually use (based on my clients' brief), so the plants were important to counter these built structures. Working within some strong ideas from my client, I think we came up with something really really great. Primarily designed for entertaining, but with an open lawn out the back for children to kick a ball around.
A mix of trees for foliage interest - Magnolia grandiflora, Pseudopanex
arboreous (five-finger), and Michelia yunnanensis. I love mixing these
exotics with the NZ native trees. 

Before long the pebble mulch will be hidden under the textured ground covers. 

Planter box freshly planted

Ligularia renformis and Dianella nigra in the planter box

Shadows are so important to soften hard surfaces

An open lawn for children to play
As with all gardens - this will only get better with time, as trees form trunks to differentiate from the shrubs around them, adding layers/tiers and shade to the garden landscape.
I love this view. The sculpture is so visually important, and can be seen
from many directions, giving a focus to this end of the garden. The fairy
lights around the fence must be magic at night. The owners added these,
and it is such a great idea. Make sure you add electricity early on in the
So there you go - gorgeous isn't it?? Rx

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tui in Suburbia

He was in this flax, right beside the footpath

Hot off the press - photographic evidence that you can attract Tui into an urban garden, no matter how small.  These photos were taken from my office (through a less than spotless window I might add), of the cheeky wee tui doing the rounds of my flax plants, alongside a busy footpath and road (busy by Masterton standards anyway). Pretty thrilling when something you have planted yourself becomes part of a nature corridor, especially in town. So easy to do.

Bumble Bees

These Teucrium balls are SO overdue for a trim, but honestly - would you be able to rev up the hedge trimmer knowing you might be slicing and dicing these bumble bees?? The advantage of leaving the balls untrimmed is that the blue flowers attract the bees in their hundreds. Disadvantage - knowing when you are safe to get in there and trim!! Any ideas? Did think of spraying the plants with water first....?? R 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Magnolia 'Butterflies'

My visual senses are in overload at this time of year. The flowering trees and shrubs are just magnificent. For me, going into a plant shop with a client's garden fresh in my mind, is the equivilent of going into a delicatessen or grocery store on an empty stomach!! Overload, overload!! Where do I stop? The best part of my job is selecting plants for some of the designs and plant combos I have buzzing around in my head waiting to be let loose on a poor unsuspecting client!! All in the very best possible taste of course!!

Here is yesterday's favourite plant - Magnolia 'Butterflies'. The softest buttery yellow with dark stamens (or sepals?? forgotten). Superb. Can't wait to see this grow, alongside the carefully matched Pieris Lord Wakehurst and Chanomeles Green Ice from Clareville Nursery. All yellow toned flowers at the same time. Should have taken more photos. Have to plan the groundcover perennials just as carefully now. Just love this part of my job. Rx

Pukaha Mount Bruce Garden Tours - Thurston's Garden

Not only is my Mother In Law's garden (Dursley) part of this tour, but the very gorgeous Thurston Garden is too!! First time ever open for public viewing. If you have a look on the page listed as Upper Plain Garden on the side panel, you can see what this garden was two years ago. A full-on olive tree orchard. What Roselee and Lachie have achieved in this time is amazing, and I am very proud to put my name to the design of it. It is an ever evolving landscape, with fine tuning of plant combos etc going on probably as we speak! Just a really great example of what can be achieved in a short period of time. I have loved every minute of my time designing, planting and now and then going back to wander and discuss the finer details with the dedicated Head Gardener (Roselee).
What from the driveway appears subtle, green and textural .........

.....opens up around the back to lush
and vibrant colour!

The Thurston Garden cannot be seen from photos alone!

Contrasting styles create interest and invite exploration!
 Sadly I never seem to get time take fresh photos when I am there, as Roselee and I are too busy talking plants. So these are all at least one year old photos. Just include this garden in your tour so you can see how much it has evolved since the olive orchard days............

Monday, September 24, 2012

Container City - Cashell Mall, Christchurch

Last but sooooo not least - Container City in the old Cashell Street Mall. Set up as a way to get business and shoppers back ASAP into the inner city, this area is just wonderful. Vibrant, fresh, with oodles of personality - shipping containers have been remodelled into the most incredible spaces for the brave shops and cafes to do business from. LOVED IT!

Euphorbia, Lavender, Heuchera in instant containers. Loved these.

Clever container gardens that can easily be replenished with fresh plants

One of several cafes designed for outdoor dining

Great idea to disguise ugly poles!

Not sure about all the colours - but definately bright and so fresh

Really comfy and super cool public seating on ready-lawn.

This cafe design could easily be used for a house.
The steel pergola extends the living space enormously.

Three shipping containers. How clever.
This restart shopping centre was right next to our motel, so we spent lots of time loitering around it. I particularly loved the portable planter boxes - surprisingly fitted out with potted plants. So clever. Heuchera, Euphorbia, and Lavender. Creates immediate impact, and of course, can be replenished when the plants fade or flowers are finished. Very clever design. And that design will become more and more apparent with the rebuild. I feel very strongly that this city will be incredibly stunning. What an opportunity to design a new city scape from a virtually blank canvas. WATCH.THIS.SPACE. Go Christchurch! xoxoxo