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Mucking In

Sundays at 7pm | TV ONE

Episode 4 - Garden Design Notes


Episode 4 - Ricky Houghton, Massey

GARDEN DESIGN NOTES by Tony Murrell

With Ricky living most of the week out of town and Rosie's time being consumed with caring for her grandchildren, the words "blank canvas" were well and truly a reality for their garden. 

As a Garden Designer my challenge was to enroll him in a 101 course "Love the land and see what a garden can do for you". 

This would become apparent on completion of the new garden when he came home. I knew from Day One that I would have to coax Ricky into believing that the inclusion of hundreds of plants, native and exotic, including sub-tropical and the exclusion of lawn, would be a revelation to him and he would get the gardening bug. This formula has worked in the past for me and the obligatory green fingers would start to appear.  

The introduction of lush planting of Karaka, married with semi-tropical palms and a majestic stand (in time) of our favoured Nikau, would transport Ricky and his whanau to a fabulous holiday at home.  At the end of the day, Ricky only has his weekends, be it a few, to relax. 

I personally feel that there was an excess of decking around the house, but in just two days the ask would have been too big to reduce this.  Instead I chose four complementary Resene colours to brush out and blend this wooden edifice to meld with his new garden.  

You'd be surprised at what goes with green!   

Mass plantings are not only reserved for traffic islands and motorway planting.  From the front to the rear of Ricky's house, the new flanked gardens either side of the gravel path started with blocks of Nikau, through Cabbage Trees to Lancewoods, and finally a grid of Karaka. 

In time, this path will not only offer access but will also visually stimulate senses and require movement, as there is so much on offer that people walking down the path simply wouldn't want to miss. 

To say that the journey will end down the path is not the case.  If anything, the journey starts all over again. 

A two-metre square paved terrace now gives you an opportunity to catch your breath - the awesome structure with Vergola auto-roof is just one of the grand features on offer. Just wait till you make your way to the tropical forest beyond, full of texture and layers of foliage that sway in the wind.

Not many people can boast an outdoor kitchen, inclusive of an enormous stainless steel BBQ from the BBQ Factory, which is spacious enough to feed the wider whanau all at once.  When Ricky finally comes to rest in his new garden at the end of the week, his position will be reclining, not upright, as the purpose-built daybed commands. 

Garden sculptures and art are personal and often subjective. My brief and knowledge about Ricky certainly gave me a cue to call on indigenous pieces that reflected love, joy and new life - something that Ricky infuses into his community on a daily basis. The punga and carved stone icons are merely a reference and a reminder of the selfless work that he does. 

Just because we live in a suburban environment, doesn't mean to say that you have to miss out on the alternative offerings of other living environs.  Stimulation of all the senses should start the moment you arrive at your home.  

Ricky will no longer dart from his car immediately into his house, because in the past there was no other reason but to do so. I would like to think that Ricky's homecoming will be more ceremonial and cleansing of his mind after a very busy, crammed week. 

Ricky's new garden acts in a way not unlike himself - offering he and all of his surrounding neighbours not a mere glimpse but a full show.


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