Portfolio

Tropical Pool, Otaihanga

The owner of this rural property wanted a tropical holiday atmosphere for the new swimming pool and surrounding gardens and entertaining areas. The paddock out in front of the house was set aside for the development and a large overgrown and leaking pond was unceremoniously removed along with a few shelterbelt trees which were blocking sun and light to the area. The space was sheltered by surrounding trees, creating a microclimate suitable for the kind of palms etc which the client had his heart set on, but I was surprised how well these truly tropical species have established and grown. The palms and other lush-foliaged plants surround the pool and courtyard and create a real “tropical escape” atmosphere. The new pool is framed by generous hardwood decking areas on 3 sides and the fourth side features a retained edge which drops away giving open views...
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Historic Cottage Charm

This charming early 1900’s cottage had a distinctive central axis and structure yet the garden consisted of meandering rose gardens which, whilst beautiful, did nothing to enhance this feature. Also, typically for this era, the outdoor living was non-existent. The new owners wanted a more structured, simple and less cluttered garden and a variety of places where they could sit outside and enjoy the garden. They also wanted to retain the cottagey, traditional feel of the property. The design – inspired by Edna Walling – makes use of recycled terracotta tiles from  the site and recycled bricks to create  two courtyards which sit easily against the historic cottage. The entrance path begins under an existing pergola and looks out over a fragrant, buxus-edged garden, with a stepping stone path leading the eye through informal gardens to the main lawn. A simple gravel chip path leads...
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Makara Magic

Since moving to MakaraBeach in 2008 Rebecca has been taught a thing or two about wind! Extreme winds and driving salt storms lash this little beach village frequently. Rebecca has managed to create a charming and dramatic beach garden which defies the local sceptics who assured her that gardening in such extreme conditions was just not possible. Basing her scheme on the traditional medieval “Paradise Garden” as a safe garden retreat protected from external hazards ( in this case more of nature than marauding armies!) the garden relies on a series of wind screens, roofed areas and tough peripheral planting to allow her to grow a surprising range of native and exotic plants. A dramatic covered deck and a series of coloured tile and mosaic courtyards provide sheltered outdoor living areas in most weather conditions. Built by: Rebecca Wilson and Colin Grimwood   Tweet...
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State House “Gone Troppo”!

This bungalow was renovated in a unique style by the previous owners under the guidance and inspiration of architect John Mills. The garden takes its cue from the wonderfully quirky details on the house. A daring paint palette inside the house and interesting paving details outside add drama and colour to balance the predominantly green, highly textural planting scheme. Sweeping forms in the paving, intercepted by large river boulders create a welcoming entranceway with intriguing glimpses to the colourful entrance steps and gardens beyond.  The garden has changed hands since it’s inception but the new owner has embraced it’s character with full enthusiasm and has made it her own, managing the development of the planting with great expertise and a wonderful eye for form, colour and texture.  When this happens the designer can step back and just enjoy the developing scene!               Tweet...
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Waikanae

This redesign of an existing garden and pool was primarily concerned with improving the flow from the house out into the garden and creating a flexible range of outdoor living areas for family use and entertaining for large groups of friends. Previously the drive ran right through the garden next to the house – and cut the pool off from the garden. Also the house was about a metre off the ground and therefore felt isolated from the garden. The clients fortunately agreed to take the important first steps of rerouting the driveway to  the outside of the garden and raising the lawn to reduce the drop from floor level. Several generous sets of steps were included off the verandah and hedging around the base provides a soft yet defined edge. A large pergola provides semi-sheltered access from the parking area to the front door, and...
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Arts and Crafts in Otaki

This magestic Arts and Crafts house has been lovingly restored by a dedicated couple from a virtually derelict state and now is a beautiful example of what can be done within the Arts and Crafts style. The garden was in a similar state of disrepair – a few lovely old trees and a nice set of steps in need of repair were the only things worth keeping. A concrete driveway completely surrounded the house. The first issue was to get people out of their cars sooner and make the trip to the house worth the effort (although a service driveway was maintained to the back of the house). This involved restoring the steps and adding an arbour with beautiful framed views out into the garden on both sides. There was no outdoor living so a few courtards were included around the house for family entertaining etc and to link the...
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Asian Fusion

This garden, owned by a couple with Pacific and Asian roots, incorporates a mix of both subtropical and Japanese themes in both the planting and detailing. The courtyard area makes use of the sunny, sheltered aspect with a riot of flowering, bold foliage plants, whilst the lower courtyard is shady and used more as a viewing garden. Here a Japanese shade garden has been created, with a waterfall style water feature at one end which turns an ugly shady concrete retaining wall into a dramatic focal point. Plants have been selected which play on varieties of greens and textures, with seasonal “special effects” provided by the deciduous maples and flowering orchids.  A dramatic, loose checkerboard pattern is created with the various textures of decking, gravel and Irish Moss ground-cover planting.               Tweet...
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Mosaic Pool

  This pool and garden was of necessity located on a newly-acquired section on the south side of the house. The design needed to strengthen the linkages to the house and also re-orientate the area to the north. This was done with a new garage with a poolhouse attached and substantial planting which created a strong southern edge. The poolhouse faces northwest and also provides handy facilities – a bar, kitchen and casual lounge –  and a “2nd home” for the summer months. Two matching pebble-and-tile mosaics create dramatic features in and out of the pool. The pool is a delicious deep, soft blue  colour from the custom-made fibreglass lining and a waterline tile strip which further enhances the colour and is a feature in itself. The whole pool area looks out over the fence and planting into the garden beyond which is an eclectic mix of flowering exotic colour...
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Japanese Woodland

The beautiful mature trees in this garden set the scene for a Japanese style woodland garden and the client’s love and understanding of Japanese gardens and their attention to detail ensured the success of this project. The entrance features a more formal Japanese garden with lantern, water bowl and traditional Japanese planting, with a stone path leading out into the main garden. Boulders were carefully selected and located to provide sculptural interest and a balanced composition to the views from the main deck. A smaller deck down in the garden has a Japanese style pergola overhead. This leads the eye through to the end of the garden and provides a lovely spot to sit and enjoy the ever-changing planting. The dramatic beauty of this garden is arresting in all seasons with the planting providing a constantly changing tapestry of colour, texture and light. The clients,...
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Historic Masterton Masterpiece

This absolutely gorgeous historic house was sitting in a pretty sad old garden which had tragic notes of 1950’s makeovers throughout. A kidney-shaped pool, asphalt driveway around three sides of the house and an under-sized tennis court dominated the scene, capped off by a grim row of large Yew trees up the drive. Several beautiful specimen trees remained, however, and a lovely old arbour sat over the disused entrance path. The design creates a series of defined and structured spaces around the house to give dignity and a sense of arrival to the entrance area and a range of outdoor living areas to suit the seasons, time of day, etc. The grass tennis court has been replaced with a large formal lawn and peripheral gardens which allows it to still be used for casual games. There is a generous edible garden developed in the northern...
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Heart Of The Beachfront

The owner of this beach-house is a very keen gardener and was keen to create a variety of spaces for plants and intimate areas for sitting within the gardens. The  heart-shaped layout creates several small usable areas for sitting out in a variety of conditions/seasons etc and creates interesting spaces for planting. The garden has also spilt out onto the road reserve where it provides a wonderful feature at the end of this quiet street. The client says: “I had the house ‘rearranged’ for an indoor – outdoor flow, but outdoors was not cooperating.  The garden had rather an old-fashioned look and the seafront I soon discovered, was not the place to grow a luscious lawn. To me, the foundation of any good garden is the design, especially for a small one, which can be very unforgiving if the proportions are not just right.  I didn’t have the courage...
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Porthole Pool

This pool makes use of an old tennis court behind the house which was raised about a metre above house floor level. Being situated on the east side of the house it made sense to keep the area raised to allow the afternoon summer sun to come over the house. The clients wanted to feel like they were on holiday with their new pool environment so a semi-resort atmosphere was required – notwithstanding the limitations set by our Wellington climate! The planting, materials and the sheltered, sun-trap orientation have all helped to create this.  The levels were adjusted to maintain a 1.2m wall between the house and the pool – this became the pool “fence”. In order to highlight the existence of the pool from the courtyard below, a large porthole window has been created in the pool wall, giving those in the courtyard an...
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Resort Style

The American-style woodland garden is the inspiration for this garden. The client’s love of this style fortunately fitted well with the climatic conditions of this site – reasonably sheltered with cold winters and warm summers. The brief was to create “a resort in our back yard”! So a pool, poolhouse, tennis court and spa were included as well as the complete layout of driveway, entrance, vege gardens, lawns, woodland walkways, boardwalks etc. The seasonal change in this garden is spectacular and will continue to improve as the garden matures. The client’s love of conifers was also catered for and the effect is very successful with the contrast between solidity and transparency of foliage and form.   The client says: “Rebecca has helped transform a farm field into a beautifully classic garden that is a joy to be in. There are different zones to enjoy that...
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Treetops Pool

These clients love space! The problem was that the best, most sheltered part of the garden - and the area best connected to the house - didn’t look big enough for their taste. The lawn fell away into a small gully only a few metres from the house.  I have always loved those tropical treehouse type designs which have decks, complete with spas and pools, suspended in space and surrounded by the tree canopy. I suggested we could do a similar thing here, and they eventually agreed. The pool is built as far away from the house as possible, but still with the base (2 metres down) on solid ground with the far side built up against a retaining wall. The deck extends the space on three sides of the pool (one end housing the pool cover)and the main sundeck is suspended out over the gully woodland area and into the tree canopy. This has worked extremely...
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Access issues

These clients have a problem common in Wellington – a pretty arduous tramp up to their house! Rather than install a cablecar they opted for a redesign of their path and steps. The new path and steps bring the visitor up into the garden through a series of spaces, with plenty of interesting features and planting to pause and admire (whilst catching your breath!). The journey begins with the council path which has been improved simply with planting, handrails and stone steps at the base. Once on the property the stonework, By Carl Gifford, is a feature in itself, and the spiral staircase is a delightful example of his skills. The steps emerge onto the small formal lawn where the paving breaks up into strips divided by creeping ground-cover plants, providing textural and seasonal interest. The water feature planned for the far end of the lawn is waiting for the lotto win…...
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Taita Playground

The Hutt City Council commissioned this design to provide a playground for local pre-school children. The design incorporates a range of rustic structures to encourage creative play and allow the children to invent their own ways to use these elements. The essential slide and swings are also included but designed within structures which allow multi-use. Planting and sculptural pieces complete the atmosphere and appeal to the largely Maori and Pacific Island community. A large, rustic picnic table with built-in seating is located in the central decked area to provide a place for local mothers and children to gather for casual get-togethers and picnics etc. This playground has been most successful with the local community making full use if it. Tweet...
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Petone Cottage

These clients wanted to draw on their Maori heritage in the design and detailing of their garden, with more than a drop of Kiwi Back Yard thrown in! The entrance to this little cottage is past a manuka pole screen , following a double koru path featuring bright red tiles, charcoal pebbles and Black Mondo grass. The porch was left in its original style despite my enthusiasm for lowering the front wall and installing a bench seat over it… the clients still enjoy using this area for casual sitting. The back garden has an enlarged deck and steps down to a low-maintenance courtyard. There is a outdoor shower for washing down after trips to the nearby Petone Beach, and a well-used brazier area. The curved slab seat and raised garden under the Ngaio provides an interesting focal point and a nice place to relax in the last of...
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Glasshouse pool

This property, a lifestyle block in Pauatahanui, is elevated with great views over the surrounding countryside… but the wind really hits the garden and the thought of investing in a pool which was too cold and windy to enjoy was too much to cope with. The pool was located around the back of the house on the east side so the house provides some protection. The northerly winds are kept out of the area with a glass “wall” which also doubles as a safety fence, and this end of the pool is also covered by a glazed pergola to ensure the wind carries on over the roofline rather than dumping down into the pool courtyard. The whole area is remarkably sheltered and is now the main focus for family outdoor living. The pool features a waterfall and a curved bay at both ends, one of which...
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Contemporary Country

The brief for this project was to create a restful yet contemporary series of spaces around the house for relaxing and socialising. I was keen to ensure that this sat well within the rural scene and reflected where they were. There was limited flat space so the pool and lawn were built out into the paddock with a large, curved retaining wall. The distance from guest parking and garages to the house was made into a pleasant garden walk with a large, semi-rustic pergola which is festooned with Wisteria to create a sheltered, leafy walk in summer and a more airy structure in winter. Located north of Otaki (with a lovely dry climate) this wasn’t a major issue. The pool sits on the edge of the garden with views over the lime citrus orchard below. Views to this orchard and the countryside beyond are kept open with just a small...
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Mt. Vic Courtyard

This garden included a courtyard for outdoor living and a separate entrance walkway. The courtyard is completely sheltered and private, with visitors not treated to a view of the area until they are inside the house, due to the tall concrete wall between the two areas. The courtyard materials are simple and understated, with the drama provided by the water feature between the pillars of the new garage.  This water cascade also draws the eye away from the imposing new garage and also provides a subtle distraction from road noise beyond. The planting makes use of a limited variety of species, mass-planted for simple dramatic effect with occasional specimens chosen for seasonal interest. Tweet...
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