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Nz House And Garden


Episode 10

Watch this episode of NZ House & Garden on TVNZ ondemand.

Seventies Style

When we talk of contemporary architecture, this home still makes the cut - even though it was designed 30 years ago.

When their neighbours built this house in Campbells Bay in 1975 Jo and Greer Wilcox fell in love with it.  Architect Ian Athfield was established at the time as the designer of innovative and cutting edge homes.

Thirty years later Jo and Greer have become the owners.  The structure and layout of the house have endured the test of time, but the Wilcox's have given the interior a complete makeover to take their home from the 70s fashions of shag pile carpet and bright colours right into the 21st century

About the Architect:
Athfield started his practice in 1968.  Much of his early work was domestic - although his work today is mostly in the commercial arena designing buildings like the Wellington Public Library.  There are certain hallmarks that identify an early Athfield house;the use of plaster and timber, various levels, quarry tiled floors, port holes, open beamed ceilings, planked panelled doors, rooms often opening into each other to make larger spaces, and good flow from the indoors to the outside. The house that Jo and Greer own is quite typical of Athfield designs of the time.

Round Huapai

A west Auckland orchard is transformed from a run of the mill rural property into a curvaceous masterpiece by landscape architect Mark Read.

Both the house and garden celebrate the beauty of the curved line in the middle of a grid-pattern orchard. This property shows that drama and simplicity can go hand in hand. 

Soft Landscaping/Planting

Mark really followed his own instincts when it came to planting on this property.  The garden and the house are all about layers and curved lines, and he wanted to follow this theme with the plants he chose.

- Front garden - the driveway is a straight line through the orchard and as soon as the house comes into view the circular theme is apparent. There is an elliptical shaped garden in the centre of the driveway planted with an existing Kowhai tree in the middle surrounded by merlot flax and star jasmine.
- Under the oak tree is planted with day lilies and azaleas - block planted to give ground cover underneath the oak tree as well as colour Height is kept low so you can see over it from the terrace above.
- Native gardens are on both sides of the house acting as a divider that runs through the property in line with the house. There are a huge variety of native plants in these gardens which have strong structure and interesting colours.  These include: flaxes, carex, libertia, chinobloa, dianella and hebes, as well as ferns and a number of large native trees.
- The back garden dominated by the oak tree and olive trees and this area is plated with exotic, shade tolerant planting - rhododendrons, azaleas, clivias, hellebores, camellias and hydrangeas.

To contact Mark Read go to or phone (09) 970 3488.

Outback Tucker

Expat Kiwi Don Wait lives in Alice Springs and leads the life of a modern day adventurer, showcasing the stunning natural attractions and the indigenous foods of the Aussie outback.  Don continues our food journey into the Australian bush.

Much of the territory's most interesting (if not always the most delicious) food is native.  We taste test what's right in our camp backyard.  There's kangaroo, whose tail is considered a local delicacy and wild camel. 

'Roo Tail'
Australians it seems are not shy about tucking into their national emblem and the tail of the 'roo is a real delicacy around these parts.  Most people buy them frozen from the supermarket.  To prepare it, the tail is charred in the open coals to remove the hair and skin before it's wrapped in tin toil and 'roasted' in the coals.  After about 30 minutes it's ready to eat, wash it down with a robust Australian red.

Camels were first introduced to Australia in the 1860's and were used in the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line amongst other things.  With the advent of mechanised transport the camels became redundant and were released into the wild.  It's said there are up to 300,000 camels living wild in the Australian outback so it's no wonder the Australians have taken to eating them!  Peta marinated her camel fillet in lemon juice and garlic before grilling to medium rare.

To find out more and Don and his outback tours go to

Lodge Luxury at Home

When Heather and John Forsman asked an architect friend to design a property for their Matakana vineyard that would double as their home and a luxury retreat for guests - it took a great deal of thought and research to get things just right.

However, a year after opening they can now look back and see that it was all worth it.  Their attention to detail and their desire for a home and a lodge of quality and style means they now have a property that will stand the test of time.

John and Heather used Architect Steve McCracken, a partner in Warren and Mahoney at the time (he has since relocated to Noosa).

Heather and John's brief to Steve was to keep the materials and design as natural as possible and the result speaks for itself.  There are many elements at Takatu that reflect John and Heather's vision.

- The untreated macrocarpa floor boards on the ceiling in the living area. John and Heather decided to continue the macrocarpa outside onto the eaves and the 3 metre overhangs at each end of the living space."

- The exterior and much of the interior surface is plaster over the concrete blocks and has no chemicals and no lime. "White and black plaster were mixed to get the grey variegated cement colour.  The original design had a painted finish inside but once we saw the effect of the concrete look outside we decided to continue it indoors."

- Floors are hand cut stone - a type of sandstone.  John and Heather deliberately cut the stone so that the pieces are uneven in size to keep the informality they wanted.  They also like the imperfections in the stone."

- The outside lighting is all below the knee in height. "When people come to the country they want to see the stars.  Having the lights at a low level means they don't compete."  

For more information about Takatu Lodge and wines go to

Turning Japanese

Japanese gardens are famed for their beauty, design, apparent simplicity, and they're steeped in tradition and meaning.

With the busy lifestyles we lead today, Japanese-inspired gardens are a perfect antidote to the stresses of the outside world.

They can be designed to work in both small and large spaces, and if you stick to the principles of Japanese design they bring elegance and tranquillity to your property.

When you start out in planning your garden, it's important to get a good understanding of your garden space BEFORE you start developing it. Some key considerations are:

- Look at the traffic in your space - how is it currently used?
- How do you WANT to use it?
- What structural restrictions do you face?

Our Looks:  Designed by Tony Murrell

Look One - Formal 'Dry' Garden
This look is starkly planted - relying instead on hard landscaping and the symbolism which is so potent in Japanese garden design.

- The key feature is a raised deck path that divides the space into two clean areas on either side - which form the garden beds.

The use of a solid, structural 'pathway' forms an immediately obvious, geometric structure for the garden, and highlights the strong linear forms for which Japanese dry gardens (SUCH AS RYOANJI) are known.

-  In the garden bed below the deck, a small grade of schist has been used, with its naturally worn forms that fit the aesthetic of the Japanese garden.

This is broken up with three large rocks. We've used 'fake' rocks as they are substantially easier to manage and you can shift them around as the mood takes you.

In Japanese gardens, rock forms are used to represent natural geographic formations in miniature - so you can imagine these as mountains or rock outcrops.

- For greenery, we've added scleranthus for its mossy dense form. Given the strong, solid feel of the gravel and rock forms, the likes of scleranthus are complementary - you don't want delicate planting that will recede into the background.

- The boundary wall has been dressed with two 'feature' bamboo panels, which break up the monotony of the concrete-block wall.  These also create a sense of structure and formality in the garden, with the strong horizontal lines of the thin bamboo strips.

- And between these two panels hangs a canvas frame, with a simple Japanese symbol - reinforcing the cultural roots of the garden. You can let your creativity run free here and give your garden some real personality!

- The main bed is a formal, sand garden - the most familiar of Japanese garden styles.  In these gardens, the raked marks in the gravel can be seen to represent the flow of water on a riverbed, or the moonbeams reflected on the surface of water.  There is a real craft to creating these art forms, and it means you can always bring something new to your garden space.

-  The geometric forms of the rectangular garden beds, decking and wall panels is broken up by a feature Maple tree which brings a natural architectural element to the garden.

Look Two - Stepping Stones.
Sand, rakes and giant boulders aren't the only trends the Japanese have contributed to gardening.  Their more 'naturalistic' gardens are equally as stunning.

The most-obvious change in this second garden look is the loss of the decking pathway, and its replacement with soft, curving forms defining the two garden beds.

-  The pathway is formed with limestone-based product called Hoggin which has an earthen look.  Into the Hoggin are set large 'stepping' stones in a variety of sizes and shapes to create a naturalistic feel.

- Traditionally, the use of stepping stones in Japanese gardens symbolises steps towards a goal or the progression of life - so it is more than just wanting to get out to the backyard!

- Random false rocks - with clumpings of scleranthus - have also been introduced to the path area to enhance the natural feeling of the space.

- The existing deck off the side of the house has been given more of a connection to the garden, with these 'floating' steps coming down into the main space of the garden.

- On either side of the stairs we've planted buxus topiary shapes, with scattered planting of Liriopes underneath.

- Shishi-Odoshi - or deer scarers - are exactly that.  These water features with their 'thunk' sound effect were traditionally used to keep deer away from nibbling on the tender new shoots in rice paddies.  They bring a real sense of traditional Japanese interest.

- Water is often a feature in Japanese gardens, because it creates a sense of naturalism - visually and for the ear.

-  The fine sand and formality is gone on the boundary side of the garden now, and along the wall we planted Radermacheras, which bring strong, Japanese-influenced form and height to the fence line.  They also help to soften the hard lines of the fencing.

-  Mirroring the opposite garden bed are group plantings of Buxus topiaries, again with scattered planting of Liriope.

- Using a limited number of plants through a small garden like this one creates a sense of consistency and space, and doesn't confuse the senses with clutter.

-  The garden bed has also been mounded to give the sense of a soft, rolling landscape, with a mulch of ochre-coloured pebbles.

Designer Tony Murrell can be contacted at (09) 309 7555

Thanks to:

Garden labour and construction supplied by:
Darrell Smith & the team at Landsmiths
Tel: 09-358-2717
Stepping stones, ti-tree panels and bamboo screens supplied by:
Brustics Brushwood Fences
Kingston schist and Hoggin supplied by:
Stone Direct
350 St Johns Road
St Johns
Tel: 09-521-8277
Fake rocks and 'gold' pebbles supplied by:
Stone & Water World
218 Marua Road
Tel: 09-525-3142
Mulch, garden mix supplied by:
Pierce Garden Landscape Centre
157 Marua Road
Tel: 09-579-3750
Timber, plastic edging and concrete supplied by:
Stores nationwide
Scleranthus, pittosporum, acacia and Maple supplied by:
Kings Plant Barn
For locations, visit: 

Radamacheria supplied by:
North Harbour Big Tree Company
Tel: 09-415-7373
Topiaries supplied by:
Verde Garden Design and Retail
42 Barrys Point Road
Tel: 09-486-5052

Water pumps and expertise supplied by:
Water Dynamics
84-86 Franklin Road
Freemans Bay
Tel: 09 378 0383
For further locations across New Zealand:
Shishi odoshi and Japanese rake supplied by:
Mark Mortimer at Bambusero
Tel: 09-483-4655