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DIY Garden Design: Create Your Own Dream Garden

Lynda Hallinan | NZ Gardener Special Edition, republished 2019

Here is the section on Vege Patch Pointers in an interview with Rachael Matthews.

Vege Patch Pointers to create your dream garden

The days when vege patches were hidden down the back of the garden are over, and about time too, says Rachael Matthews from HEDGE Garden Design & Nursery in Wellington ( In 2012, she won the Student Designer of the Year title at the Ellerslie International Flower Show for her innovative vege garden (above).


Start with structure


  • Rachael approaches the design of an edible garden in exactly the same way as other garden: “I look to create the structure first.” That might mean dressing up boundary walls with steel mesh to provide a framework for espaliered fruit trees, grapevines, or a diamond pattern of criss-crossed columnar “Ballerina” apples.


  • Plant edible hedges of feijoas or blueberries or clip Myrtus ugni into dense balls or cloud topiary.


  • Aim for at least four vege beds for a balanced design and easy crop rotation.


Find Creative Solutions


  • “Instead of using boring bamboo canes for bean poles,” says Rachael, find sculptural alternatives – from flax storks to bulrushes or bespoke steel structures.”


  • No room for a triple bay compost bin? Sweep your green waste under the carpet – or in the case of Rachael’s award winning Ellerslie exhibit, under a trapdoor in a wooden boardwalk. “I’m also a fan of bokashi bins and worm farms for city gardeners.”


Design Basics


  • Position vege patches – herbs and salad green in particular – close to the kitchen and outdoor entertaining areas.


  • The construction materials – rusty steel, concrete, and untreated timber – will determine whether your garden looks rustic or contemporary. “The type of material you chose for your paths also makes a difference.” Use bark chips for an informal finish, or concrete paving for a modern design.

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