Top Shows

Mucking In

Sundays at 7pm | TV ONE

Episode 6 - Garden Design Notes

Episode 6 - Uffie Keefe, Taihape


Uffie's garden is massive and yet that didn't seem to deter her from taming mere pockets all over the place - from wild perennial gardens to a car cemetery - she seemed to have every theme covered, even a hidden farm building where past relics had become museum pieces.  

Uffie's time has become increasingly more taken up by her community which means that the garden was taking over her. Our task - in consultation with her - was to tame the unruly child that it had become.  

The first thing  we needed to do was to eliminate all of the components that would not feature in the garden's  future. This then gave us a blank canvas from which to go forth and redefine gardens from living courts to purpose built sculpture trails, finishing at a contemplative point.  

I wanted to start under the great trees at the back of Uffie's house.  This is where I drew my first inspiration for her new garden and immediately saw an opportunity for a woodland planting incorporating a meandering path lined and featuring carved sculptural pieces as focal points and reference to the wider environment. 

This was by no means a small task.  We had to take careful consideration to the existing vegetation and delicate roots of the majestic trees.  Sourcing plant varieties for this scheme had to be very carefully considered due to the restrictions and limitations of the local environment and the fact that Taihape was very high above sea-level. 

New garden beds were planted with a mixture of flowering and indigenous plants that would give Uffie at different times of the year fragrance, colour, perfume and movement.   She can now potter and know that the overall look of the garden would support  her endeavours.  

Uffie's a fun lady and conventional landscaping simply wouldn't have gone down. Checkerboard paving with overhead cables for grapevines would, in time, succumb to parties and compulsory wines in the warm Taihape afternoons.   

Uffie said that the winters can make access to the house a little challenging due to the placement of the existing driveway and proximity to the often used backdoor.

 I wouldn't normally bring a driveway up that close. However, Uffie had a special request and I wanted to make sure that on cold winter's nights, after she had finished her community work, that she could skip, then hop, right into the back door.  

What we were able to do, and this will take a little bit of time to establish, was to plant an avenue of Kowhai adjacent to the new driveway which, in time, would soften that area and in the summer would provide a colourful and melodic bird song filled area.  

The pathway through the centre of this was purposefully made narrow for Uffie and her family to suffle down under the canopy and enjoy the ambience of this newly defined area. 
Eclectic and eccentric gardens can be so much fun and some of Uffie's garden jems and relics made it back to the new design while others were wisked away for her own good. 

To have a more manageable garden would mean that she would not become overwhelmed with the work apparent every time she came out of her back door.

A special request to have a barrier between her outside loo and the neighbours beyond was very easily taken care of by installing a large border garden right outside the kitchen with oversized planters brimming with cabbage trees and cascading carpet roses. 

I think that driveways in the country should always be crunchy gravel.  Now she could hear her guests if she was in the outhouse and give her plenty of time to prepare herself for the welcome.  

I hope that as the years go by the woodland garden will once again be rambling but without embalming old cars and decaying relics.