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Kelburn Beauty: Design Case Study
Words: Sarah Thornton |, August 2011



Rachael from HEDGE Garden Design & Nursery takes us through a recently completed garden renovation project close to home.

Beautiful garden renovation for family living

For the past year in Rachael’s neighbourhood of Kelburn, Andrew and Samantha Murray’s family home has been undergoing extensive alterations.

As part of the renovation, the builders did much of the external landscaping including creating retaining walls, steps and paving. The Murray’s asked Rachael to come and “finish off” the outside and complete the planting.


“The building company won the overall Wellington Region Master Builders Supreme Award 2010 for their renovation & landscaping work on this property.


“My main challenge was to do justice to the beautiful high quality renovations just completed inside the house, and to convince the owners to spend just a little bit more on the garden than they were perhaps expecting, to achieve this,” says Rach.


Although the garden will take a few years to develop, it is shaping up nicely.

Autumn flowering Japanese Anemones
Green & white plant combinations
Black retaining & white concrete paving

“A levelled area and terrace has been added for a vegetable and flower cutting garden. We also added an area of concrete pavers bordered in mini Mondo Grass and we stained all the different styles of boundary fences and retaining walls black to unify them. We then added XL Versailles planter boxes to break up expanses of paving.


The wow factor comes in the form of a large contemporary stainless steel tube & wire framework for espaliering Chinese Star Jasmine” explains Rachael.

Custom designed stainless steel framework for climbing jasmines
Classic white standard Iceberg Roses
Summer flowering Penstemon White Swan

Rachael’s designs tend towards semi-formal, which she describes as “contemporary classic” – a backbone of structure and formality with splashes of colour and flowers. She creates beautiful and interesting plant combinations using proven classics and contemporary plants together.


The planting for this project adheres to Rach’s philosophy and features a structured planting plan with plenty of pretty dark greens, apple greens, lime greens and white hedging and flowers.

Summer flowering white Hydrangea Bridal Bouquet
Cafe cool stainless steel garden structures
Fragrant white summer flowering Chinese Star Jasmine

And Andrew and Samantha are thrilled with their new outdoor space. “Rachael quickly grasped the exact look and level of maintenance we were after in our garden. She then executed the plan to precision, on time and on budget. We’re delighted with the results” says Samantha.

Rachael’s Topiary Tips


  • Think beyond Buxus. Other plants suitable for topiary and hedges include Corokia, Euonymus, Teucrium, Yew, Lophomyrtus, Manuka, miniature Holly, and Vibernum.


  • Keep an eye on the basics; it will make a big difference. With regular feeding and watering you will get more lush growth and healthier plants that can fight off pests and diseases.

  • It's better to trim little and often so all the growth is going in the right direction, rather than cutting off a large amount of unwanted growth once a year, which is a waste.


  • Plant several plants in the same pot for a fuller look, sooner. For example, plant 3 Buxus together to grow into a large ball.


  • Walk around your plant and look at it from lots of different angles when you're trimming including from above.


  • Rotate your plant for even growth.


  • Rachael stands her plants on an upside down pot to raise them up, for trimming.


  • It’s important to move your plant onto level ground when you're trimming it for instance onto a deck.


  • Water your plants at wine o'clock time - but don't trim. You may get emboldened after a glass of wine an make a rash decision. On the other hand it’s a good time to enjoy your garden and be creative.


  • Don't trim when you're in a rush. However, if you do make a mistake and cut too much off, it’ll likely grow back, it might just take a while.


  • Rachael uses the shape of the pots as a cutting guide, and cuts in proportion to the pot that the plant is sitting in. For example, use the straight edges of a square pot to cut the base of the pyramid.


  • If you are worried, buy a plant that's already been shaped and then you can just maintain it.


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