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Mucking In

Sundays at 7pm | TV ONE

Episode 3: Ladi and Linda Samuel

This week's recipients Ladi and Linda Samuel had lived in the Tauranga suburb of Merivale for about 16 years. Merivale is not the most privileged of areas but Ladi and Linda's work with young people has changed the face of their community and given help and hope to dozens of children and their parents.

Ladi was the big-picture person coming up with ideas; Linda was backstage making the ideas realistic and supporting Ladi in his dreams. We received many letters of support for this nomination.

Firstly there was the Merivale Community Centre which Ladi instigated and helped build. The community centre is for everyone and offers a wide range of courses and advice for adults and children.

Over the years Linda and Ladi have organised countless camps, holiday programmes, sports events and courses to get Merivale children and teenagers motivated, employable and out of trouble. Linda is also a teacher's aide at the Merivale School where she is very highly regarded.

Recently work began on the Merivale Community Hall- another of Ladi's dreams.  Unfortunately he won't see it completed. About six years ago Ladi was diagnosed with cancer but earlier this year he lost the fight.

We had been preparing to surprise Ladi and Linda for several months before he died, so in an unprecedented move we decided to go ahead and honour Ladi's memory with a new garden and to show Linda how treasured both she and Ladi have been to the people of Merivale.

If you'd like to find out more about The Merivale Community Centre, you can reach them at:

10 Kestaven Ave
Tel: 07 578 6450

Ladi and Linda's garden

  • As with so many people who dedicate their lives to helping others, Ladi and Linda had not spent much time or money on themselves or their property and to some extent the garden is a blank canvas.
  • The house is on the corner of two streets. To the rear was a small concrete platform outside the back door, a sloping lawn and very overgrown hedges. On the lawn was also a large trampoline. To the front of the house there was a small shed, a concrete drive which had seen better days and an area the children used to shoot baskets.Linda was concerned that because there was no fence to the front corner of the section, people kept walking across the property.
  • For a time Linda, with a friend, went for nightly walks to keep fit- passing many gardens that she admired. She told us that she loved looking at the plants and had wanted a garden of her own to care for if only someone got it started for her. To that end Michael, our landscape architect, decided to give her a garden full of plants.
  • Ladi and Linda had always attracted people to their house. Linda had fed many extra children over the years (as well as four of their own!) and visitors would drop in for advice from Ladi. Michael knew that Linda would continue to need an area to entertain a good crowd, so that was another consideration.
  • To counter the problem with people cutting across the front garden Michael opted for a heavily planted raised bed, rather than a fence or barrier. It also gave Linda the chance to share the beauty of this colourful corner of the property with neighbours and the community.
  • Michael had a strong sense that Linda would appreciate a spa pool- for some pampering- and some respite from the difficult times ahead. He developed the concept of a series of outdoor rooms which would offer different atmospheres - either quiet and restful or thrown open for entertaining.
  • Michael chose many of the hundreds of plants for this garden from Seaview Nurseries.  He was looking for texture, colour, shape and size. Seaview's generosity allowed him to choose a wide selection. These plants were supplemented with some very striking mature plants from Del Costa Palms. Michael also incorporated some of Linda's existing ones. (See the plant list under Garden Details)

For the back garden:

  • Three paved levels leading from the back door - different coloured pavers on each level (see Pavers in Garden Details following) to create three distinct but connected 'rooms'.
  • Huge rocks to create a retaining wall for the paving. Succulents and palms were planted between the rocks.
  • A spa pool surrounded by semi-tropical plants and screened with stained oriental trellis and pool fencing.
  • A "Combi-Setting" from Devon Outdoor Furniture - this has the feature to be either one enormous table or two smaller ones. Plus a professional barbecue and patio heater from our friends at Rinnai. This area has been made more private with what will be a thick grisilinia hedge.
  • Hedges replaced with a step-down fence

For the front garden:

  • New concrete drive and basketball pad
  • New shed and a lawned area for the trampoline
  • Raised mounded flower bed incorporating existing puriri tree to impede public access

Special considerations and tips:

  • Whilst we were excavating to level the back garden, we uncovered an old disused bi-par septic tank. It is not uncommon to stumble upon (or into!) these now that most properties are on reticulated sewerage- a service provided by the council. However, it is worth a quick call to your local council to check that your property is now on a municipal system. If you've just disturbed a working septic tank it can be very costly to put right! Sometimes these disused tanks are still wet, and you'll need to ring a company who pump out septic tanks. You can find these companies under "Septic Tank Services" in the Yellow Pages. Once the hole is dry, ensure you fill it in with sand to avoid further danger.
  • It's the usual story with the spa pool safety fencing- you have to have it. Lockable spa or pool covers are no longer acceptable and don't forget that the fencing must be fully erected and signed off before you can fill your spa pool. We used oriental trellis and pool safety fencing (with a self closing gate kit) to safely enclose the spa. Most councils will allow this but the trellis must not have gaps larger than 10mm and must be very durable and strong. It's best to check with your local authority.
  • We painted the safety pool fencing using a spray gun - one person painting; one on the other side of the fence with a drop cloth to stop the paint going everywhere. You must use a primer especially for galvanised steel.
  • We used large flat-faced boulders to create an attractive retaining wall. This was suitable in this area because of four reasons - the drop between the two levels was below 1.5m, we were only retaining soil, we had the space and we wanted the wall as part of the landscape. There are different methods of building a retaining wall and you should check with your local council that the method you want to use is suitable for the material, height and site. For example, if you were wishing to retain below a driveway (ie supporting a load) you will need a civil engineer to design the wall plus a building consent. As well as timber retaining walls and crib retaining walls there are also a range of  "key stones" available (interlocking concrete units) which are easy to work with.  Basically if you are considering building a retaining wall you should talk to the building department at your local council.
  • Succulents are very easy plants to grow and propagate. Michael has used a lot of them in this garden- in particular they were planted throughout the retaining boulder system.  The most common cause of succulent death is over-watering. However, while growing, cacti and succulents cannot go for prolonged periods without water. During the summer when it is very hot, water once a week, giving the soil a good soaking. When the weather is cooler, increase the interval between each watering. The soil should dry out between waterings.
  • The concrete used for the new drive and basketball pad was coloured with black oxide (5kg per cubic metre of concrete) to make a dark grey colour which worked well with the house colour. There is now a huge range of colours available to make concrete a very fashionable building material again. If you are considering coloured concrete as an option, one of the best places to visit is Peter Fell Limited is New Zealand's only coloured concrete specialist. All concrete companies can add a Peter Fell coloured oxide to your readymix concrete.

The last word

Linda had longed for a garden to tend, if only someone could get it started for her. And she started the minute we'd finished! The next day after our Mucking In, we arrived to find her and the whole family having breakfast out in their new outside 'dining room'. Linda had already planned to extend the fencing and was set to contact Bay City Fencing. We gave her a new lightweight battery-powered lawn mower so she could easily manage the lawns and carry on looking after her new garden as she had dreamed.

Special thanks to:

  • Paul Wood, at Shrimpton & Lipinski for all his help including ground plans and pegging out boundaries prior to our arrival.
  • Brian Swale, at Tauranga City Council's Building Department, for providing information about our site, building codes and consents, and inspections - a wealth of knowledge.
  • Ray Campbell from the Tauranga Resene Colourshop for all her hard work on our large order of paints and other products.
  • Aroha for all her hard work organising the food - we dined like kings, even breakfast served at a very early hour!

Garden Details

Landscape Architect:
Michael Cassidy
Boffa Miskell Limited
Tel: 09 358 2526 

Project Manager:
Chris Skinner
Group Landscapes Ltd
Tel: 09 810 9381

Our thanks to all of the following companies and individuals, without whose kind donation of products and services, Ladi and Linda's new garden would not have been possible:

LIANZ Landscaping Contractors:
LIANZ - Landscape Industries Association of New Zealand (Inc)
Freephone: 0508 444 345
Website: .

  LIANZ Co-ordinator:
Bill Holden
Bill Holden Landscape and Design Ltd.
Tel 07 362 8552.

Bill Holden Design and Landscape Ltd - tel 07 362 8552
Gardening Angel - tel 09 832 7155
Landformers Creative Landscaping - tel 07 855 6552
Landscapes for Lifestyle Ltd - tel 07 308 0088
Landscapes New Zealand Ltd - tel 07 345 9010

Page Transport Ltd
Tel: 07 578 2887

Dingo NZ Ltd
Tel: 0800 1 4 DINGO

Equipment Hire:
Tel: 0800 15 15 15
Mt Maunganui Branch
Tel: 07 572 3436

Readymix concrete black oxide supplied by:
Supacrete Concrete Limited

Concrete laying and finishing:
Kerbline Limited
Both contactable at:
Tel: 07 541 2565

Rocks, Boulders and Paving Sand:
Fulton Hogan Ltd - Bay of Plenty
Poplar Lane Quarry
Te Puna
Contact: Arthur Fulton
Tel: 07 575 6157

Timber, Hardware, Pool Fencing and Rapidset (quick-drying concrete for fence post holes):
25 MacDonald St
Mt Maunganui
Tel: 07 575 4009


9 Marsh Street
Mt Maunganui South
Tel:  07 575 4009

Oriental Trellis (made to order), steel shed:
Tanner Outdoor Centre Limited
Tel 07 578 1459

The Bay of Plenty Cobble Company Ltd
Tel: 07 541 1308
Natural (back door area)
Charcoal (spa area)
Belmont (dining area)

Boundary Fences:
Bay City Fencing Ltd
Tel 07 576 1756

Planting Mix and Fertiliser:
Mucking In uses only Redvale potting mix, planting mix, mulches and barks in its gardens:
Redvale Garden Care Ltd
Tel: 09 232 6885 (Ring this number for your nearest nationwide stockist).

Tauranga stockist:
Carine Garden Centre
Veg-gro Supplies Limited


Large feature plants:
Del-costa Palms
Tel 07 552 5552

  • 1x Trachy Cluster (Trachycarpus Fortunci)
  • 1x Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea 'Recurvata')
  • 1x Dragon's Blood Tree (Draceana Draco)
  • 1x Aloe Bainzii
  • 2x Giant Yuccas (Yucca Elephantipes)
  • 1x Cabbage Tree (Livistonia Australis)
  • 1x Agave Attenuata

Perennials, Natives, Succulents:
The following plants were supplied by Seaview, who supply to Palmers, Kings, and all major nurseries throughout New Zealand.

  • 20x Cone Flower (Echinacea 'Kim's Knee High')
  • 20x Bugle 'Caitlin's Giant' (Ajuga)'
  • 15x Bugle 'Jungle Beauty' (Ajuga)
  • 10x Cordyline 'nigra'
  • 10x Cordyline 'atom'
  • 20x Cordyline 'Celestial Dawn'
  • 10x Cordyline 'Purple Tower'
  • 15x New Zealand Flax (Phormium red fountain)
  • 30x Fantasy Impatiens
  • 20x Rohoeo Discolour
  • 10x Phellodendron Selloum
  • 20x Octopus Tree (Schefflera actinophylla)
  • 6x Flower carpet 'coral'
  • 6x Flower carpet 'red'
  • 8x Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea 'Recurvata')
  • 10x Alocasia Jade Millie
  • 15x Furcraea Selloa marginata
  • 10x Hibiscus west coast jewel
  • 10x Hibiscus west coast red
  • 10x Canna Lily - Tropicana gold
  • 30x Canna Lily - Tropicana
  • 20x Cilvia miniata orange
  • 20x Cilvia miniata yellow
  • 10x Ligularia britt marie
  • 8x Echeveria pearl von
  • 10x Gaura
  • 10x Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos bush blaze red)
  • 10x Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos bush nugget yellow)
  • 20x Pigsqueak (Bergenia Britte)
  • 20x Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum zulu dawn)
  • 10x Carex Buchananii
  • 15x Carex comans green
  • 15x Carex testacea
  • 10x Lemon grass
  • 10x Aeonium arboreum
  • 10x Aeonium swartzkoff
  • 10x Cyperus
  • 15x Gossomar Grass
  • 10x Libertia
  • 15x Cuphea starfire
  • 30x Aloe reitzii
  • 10x Aloe polyphylla
  • 10x Bitter Aloe (ferox)

Trade enquiries only to:
Philippa MacCormick
Seaview Nurseries Ltd
Tel 09 266 5836

Mucking In only uses Readylawn instant turf in its gardens.  For this garden it was sourced from:
Turfgrass Specialists Ltd
Tel: 09 274 0831

Mucking In only uses Resene paints, stains and accessories:
Resene Paints Ltd
Tel: 0800 RESENE

  • Lumbersider Cocoa Brown on the house roof
  • Lumbersider Ath Special Low Sheen on the house walls
  • LumbersiderWhite on the eaves
  • Natural Brown stain on the trellis
  • Lumbersider Schooner on the boundary fences
  • Galvo 1 as the pool fencing primer
  • Lumbersider Black for the pool fence

For further advice on paints or stains, call 0800 RESENE or email
Technical Advice: 0800-RESENE (800-737-363)

Spa Pool (Plug In Spa):
 Spa International Ltd
Tel: 0800SPAPOOL / 09 570 0188

Garden Lighting:
Advanced Lighting Technologies
Mt Maunganui
Tel: 07 579 0163

Furniture - "Combi" Complete setting in navy blue:
Devon Industries Ltd
308 Ti Rakau Drive
East Tamaki
Tel: 09 274 6260  (to find your nearest stockist & see full range of products)

BBQ - "Professional 4 burner" and Patio Heater:
Mucking In uses only Rinnai barbecues and patio heaters in its gardens:
Rinnai New Zealand Ltd
Tel: 0800 RINNAI or 09 625 4285 (for full product range and your nearest stockist)

Luxury Accommodation for Linda, Tyrone and Cory:
The Grand Tiara Hotel
T 07 349 5200

Other garden supplies:

From The Big Tree Company (T 09 274 4934) we purchased 30x Griselinia 'Broadway Mint' plants to form the hedge.

From Naturally Native (T 07 543 1494) we purchased the following plants:

  • 40x Hopbush (Dodonaea viscose)
  • 15x Daisy Bush (Olearia Albida)
  • 8x Alectryon excelsus
  • 30x Snow Grass (Chionochloa rubra)
  • 10x Flax Lilly (Phormium 'sundowner')
  • 10x Flax Lilly (Phormium 'surfer bronze')
  • 25x Rock Lily (Arthropodium cirratum)

From Omaio Nurseries (T07 552 5423) we purchased the following plants:

  • 10x Cordyline Australis 
  • 10x Cotton Palms (Washingtonia robusta) 

From Bay Farm Services (T 07 578 4405) we purchased riverstone pebble, which was used on the gardens beside the spa pool.

From Rebel Sport Tauranga (T 07 578 6300) we purchased our Huffy Basketball hoop and backboard.