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Open Season

Words: Shelley Bridgeman | NZ House & Garden, October 2012



Summer is on its way – it’s time to make your great outdoors even greater. We reveal the latest alfresco trends and a line-up of local landscape design experts offer ideas for handling challenging sites ...

It's time to make your great outdoors even greater

The same principles that apply to interiors can be used to create successful gardens and outdoor living areas. Pavers, lawn or decking form the “floor”; hedges, trees and planter boxes define the space; and the notional “ceiling” could be an umbrella, a pergola or a well placed tree branch.


Using these elements, atmosphere, personality and seamless functionality can be achieved with a sympathetic colour palette, interesting mixes of materials, a well considered layout and savvy accessorising. And of course other factors come into play, such as climate, orientation of the site and contours of the landscape. In the following pages, we reveal the latest alfresco trends and a line-up of local landscape design experts offer ideas for handling challenging sites.


WE LOVE ....


Green gardens, classic style, shots of hot colour, modular furniture, kitset garden cabins, dramatic lighting, handscrafted components, fire & water, and edible gardens.


“Surround yourself with plants that are good enough to eat such as feijoa topiary and chive edging. “A beautiful edible combination includes strawberries, rhubarb, globe artichokes and apple espaliers,’ says Rachael Matthews, who also loves the striking form of the Italian favourite Cavolo nero.




In-fill housing means many gardens are compact. And even those lucky enough to have a large garden are increasingly opting to create one small, well defined and highly polished outdoor zone within it, rather than spreading their attention and budget over a large area. We asked the experts for their tips.


“Make a statement with one oversized object; don’t be tempted to clutter up a small space with lots of little things. When planting, keep to a restrained palette with contrasting shades, textures and leaf shapes for visual interest. Choose evergreens, as foliage gaps will make your small garden feel empty,” says Rachael.




Many New Zealand house – especially in hilly Wellington – are built on steep slopes. That means terraces, decks and steps are necessary. Initially this may seem daunting, but local landscape designers are full of ideas to maximise opportunities.


“If you want to plant directly onto a steep bank, I recommend using young plants with small root balls, so you don’t have to dig big holes that may undermine the bank’s stability,” says Rachael.


Please note: this article has been abbreviated. For more tips from other landscapers, please see the October 2012 issue of NZ House & Garden.

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