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Episode 10 - Garden Design Notes

Episode 10 - Trish Moir, Nelson


At the top of the Valley in Victory Square the community is long-standing and the little houses that lie in the street have an eclectic charm that is like no other in the area.  Trish's little old Bungalow gives a whole new meaning to shabby sheik.   

It takes time, energy and more importantly money to maintain your own property and if you miss a Season it can really get away on you.  I am just pleased that we came along at the right time to rescue Trish's own paradise in Nelson. 

It has been a mis-belief that a patch of grass and a lonely Rose are considered low maintenance gardening.  Does that really evoke any feelings other than that of desolation?  Embellishment, interest and structure can be classed as building blocks for an interesting future and inspiration that often sparks a sense of wellbeing and enjoyment of every day. 

A garden should evoke all of that and much more. Incidentally, the Rose did move from the end of the lawn and was re-sited to grow over the shabby carport and be allowed to spread, cover and flower for many more years to come.

Due to the location of the house on site the best sun of the day was street side.  This meant that the landscaping, outdoor living and feature gardens would be mainly concentrated to this area.  Not only is sun good for vitamin D but it keeps us energized and sparks us first thing in the morning.  Trish visited the East many moons ago and fell in love with the whole idea of Asian inspired paradise and that was the theme of her new garden. 

The community was totally behind this project; we were turning away just as many volunteers as were needed - and yet they still kept on coming.   We all decided that Trish's house should get not only a lick of paint but be repaired and prepared for the ultimate makeover.  

Keeping the colour of the house in natural tones helped to form a wonderful backdrop for my new garden design.  Access into the house had to be simple, easy and safe. 

A series of ramps and level area decking soon achieved this.  Trish let it slip that she loved water features, so I designed a simple trough featuring an array of aquatic plants to flank the path leading to the front door. 

The garden was tiny and yet there was still the opportunity to create three definite areas, the first of which was a raised secluded retreat that would allow filtered light and sunshine for bathing while affording privacy from the street beyond.   This structure was all timber due to the limitation of time for makeover.  

Wrapping the entire area in foliage is one of the best things you can do.   A kind of cloak of leaves, branches, flowers and fragrance - and in time the plants would envelop the wooden structures thus softening the look.   The planting scheme had to be carefully thought out;  Trish wanted that lush tropical colourful look to her garden but due to the climate constraints of the region the more traditional tropical plants would need to be substituted for like varieties. 

So far we have outdoor retreat, new access to front door and the third area, the contemplative meditation garden.  This area would be looked on from the house and required a striking feature and balance that would provide not only a rest for the eyes but also for the mind.  This is where colour came into its own.  We installed a vibrant hot pink wall to provide a visual break between Trish's neighbor and to form a backdrop for a stone Buda, colourful pots and meditation incense.  

I still thought it was important to have lawn and so a small carpet was laid in the centre to help create the illusion of more space and provide an area for Trish to kick off her shoes and cool her feet during the hot Summer days.  This is a garden of contrasts - architectural planting and formal hedging teamed with climbing plants really added to the eclectic mix and would in time give a multi-layered textural feel to the front of Trish's house.   

Decorative items really do make any garden and drawing on the inspiration that Trish gave for the garden, I was able to reinforce the theme using Asian collectables and furniture.   The girls at her School wanted to create something special for Trish and her garden.  In consultation with them we decided to create a large tropical plant inspired outdoor mural. 

The positioning of this was perfect attached to the fence right outside her kitchen window, for the view as it was did not inspire nor invigorate.  Now when Trish looks out of her kitchen window every morning she will be transported back to the memory of her trip to Thailand or another faraway place. 

Access to the back of the house needed some attention so we relayed the entire drive and helped to define access into her carport and also to her back door. 

Again, level surfaces and ramps to improve speedy, safe egress were paramount, softened with simple planting that again in time would develop into a very pleasing area.  The small pocket of space between the carport and the house lay derelict with remnants and old kitchen appliances. 

These all made way for a sweet little courtyard that would double as a utility area and a little hotspot where Trish could sit first thing in the morning, enjoy her first coffee of the day, under her wall mounted umbrella, looking to the hills beyond.

Trish's bungalow was painted "Resene Triple White Pointer".  If you are painting a property that is pre-1965, there is a possibility that the existing paint could be lead-based.  For more information on the hazards attached to lead paint and how to test for it - please visit the following websites