August 2012

Back Country, Suburbia

The Brief

The homeowners had renovated their family home into a modern, personal sanctuary for their retirement, and wanted a garden to reflect the joy that years of travelling and hiking in New Zealand's wild landscapes had bought them.

The big idea for the gardens, already supporting some mature native planting, was to create a theme which would flow throughout the property, a journey of interest with emphasis on views from the house and privacy.

A collection of images from the client’s travels offered clues to a preference of natural geological landforms found in the high country regions of Otago, the Kaimai ranges and the Central Plateau.

The Solution

A design for the back garden, viewed across a large deck, and spanning the width of the property, was based on the concept of a 'dry riverbed’ and shepherd’s hut ‘Ruin’ amongst recognisable iconic native plants.

Our clients were passionate about using natural, authentic products which formed the palette for the build.  Moss covered boulders, rocks; river stones and a rustic blend of pebble and schist rubble were used. Schist from the Manor Burn near Alexandra was the choice of material for the ‘ruin’ for its depth of colour and rustic, aged look.

A new boundary fence, service area and productive gardens were designed for the southern side of the house in a series of easy to access terraces.

A recycled cobblestone path laid in random pattern re-aligns the entrance to the property. A trail of decorative pebble seemingly encroached by moss covered rocks and soft native ground covers provides access to the side and rear of the property. A raised slope emphasises the height of the boundary planting for improved privacy, and once mature, native ground covers will spread to form a lush ‘glade’ of colour, interplanted with the strong vertical forms and light leaf structure of Kanuka and Pseudopanax ferox.

The Result

In time this space will become a true sanctuary in the midst of city life. As the plants mature the gardens will be a hive of seasonal change and activity.  It is hoped that the new planting will attract a multitude of bird-life to this new micro-habitat.  We look forward to revisiting this garden in time to see how it evolves.



The finished 'ruin'


Dry riverbed


New home for Nikau


Marlborough rock daisy


Pathways meandering their way around the property


Libertia peregrinans


Through the Nikau fronds


Front garden pebble pathways & moss covered rocks


Creeper over Ponga