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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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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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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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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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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Blue Bay, Mahia

This development, the landscape component of which was completed in 2006, was sited on a retired camping ground and pine forest block. The concept involved the removal of the pines and restoration of the original dune landscape. Houses will be nestled into natural dune and vegetation on the foreshore properties and within more lush, coastal forest style planting for the inland properties. More than 25,000 native dune plants and coastal forest trees and shrubs were planted to define property boundaries, enclose the development and create natural privacy between each building site, and generally set the scene for an informal community- based beach holiday-style settlement. In addition to the planting, distinctive built elements lend an informal semi-rustic coastal character to the development. A major element is the natural swale drainage system with no roadside drainage channel and minimal mountable kerbs used throughout. Lighting is distinctive, with timber...
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Olive Grove

This Olive farm in Martinborough, as yet without a house but with rapidly maturing olive groves and amenity plantings, is again an excellent example of how planning can help to create a semi-mature landscape to support a future house. The olives have been planted along the natural contours of this undulating site, and this lends a wonderfully informal atmosphere to the landscape, with a range of unexpected and ever-changing scenes as you walk through the trees. The whole farm is designed to be walked around – avenues of trees and hedges lead down to special plantings, and a South-African themed walk leads along a ridgeline from the from the house full of South-African plants of special significance to the owners. Native plants form a sheltered enclosure for the olive, citrus and nut plantings. The driveway, originally a short “dive” off the straight right-of way, now meanders through the...
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Rustic Textures

This is the internal courtyard of a very groovy architecturally-designed house set on a hilltop in Wairarapa. It makes maximum use of texture as a response to the clients’ love of texture – she is a textile designer. Rustic, locally sourced materials make reference to the rural location and give an informal flavor to the simple hard-edged design.         Tweet...
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Sefton School

This small but extraordinary school, inspired by a wonderfully enthusiastic band of teachers, parents and students, wanted to embrace the  broader concept of  the “outdoor classroom”. The brief was to include everything from an outdoor “room” for classes to a small paddock for pet lambs and even chickens! Vege gardens, a large orchard, worm farm and composting are well under way, but also included in the plan is the decked area with built-in seating etc for classes and outdoor performances, set around a lovely old oak tree. This is to be built after the next  fund-raising effort. Proposals for improvements to the extremely popular and well-used swimming pool area  have been put on hold after structural damage to the pool during the earthquakes but there is no doubt this little school will soon have this under way too. Sefton School Plan   Tweet...
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Farmhouse Back Yard

This lovely old farmhouse is surrounded with mature woodlands, a sheltered home paddock and a grove of ancient pear trees. The design of the back courtyard opens up to this with wide, curving steps. This curve continues as hedging around the edge of the area to define the courtyard space yet retain views to the scene beyond. Originally designed as a riding arena, the paddock above is still just a paddock but if the arena eventuates it will provide a good extension to this structured space. Materials are rustic and simple, using materials which would have been used originally for homes of this era. The raised gardens are for veges and smaller fruit/citrus planting in keeping with traditional farmhouse back yards.   Tweet...
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Minimalist Country

The concept design for this property was completed prior to the new house being designed to allow the owners to begin planting the largely empty paddocks. Once the new house plan – by Architect Gerald Parsonson – was completed the landscape plan was able to be adjusted to fit. The house is a dramatic and bold architectural statement but still manages to sit quietly within this rural setting, and the landscape needed to build on this atmosphere. The front courtyards are low-key and plain, divided into informal spaces with the careful placement of rectangular, offset gardens. Views from the house vary from native bush to open farm paddocks and a formal, hedge-enclosed garden  soon to feature a dramatic modern sculpture. The back garden has a substantial orchard and vege garden area. The existing native bush has been fenced off from grazing and a walking track...
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Waikanae Woodland Drive

A mere 15 years ago these clients bought this property as a bare undulating-to-steep paddock and set about transforming it into a place where they could eventually live and retire to. A house site was confirmed and a prefunctory driveway route drawn in by the engineer – straight from the gate to the house site with considerable cutting/filling of ridges and gullies etc. The clients wisely saw the shortcomings in this plan and asked me to come up with an alternative. I was immediately struck with the potential for the experience of driving through this beautifully 3-dimensional landscape, especially as the owners had expressed an interest in creating a series of ponds in the lower parts of the property. There were some small remnant bush areas remaining and a quite a few scattered Kohekohe trees in the paddocks so these were fenced off from grazing...
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Martinborough Tradition

The owners of this established garden had purchased a large empty paddock next door, and the challenge was to develop the new garden areas as a natural continuation of the existing garden. The driveway was rerouted to make full use of the new area and also to reduce the impact of the existing driveway which cutt off the existing house and garden from the proposed garden extension. The existing drive avenue was instead developed as a formal pedestrian entrance, making use of the existing planting and structures. The new garden areas employ traditional formal garden design elements to draw the eye down the various view shafts and lure visitors into the garden from the cottage. A water feature with a rill leading to the sunken garden and a growing arbor formed by trained Lime trees (Linden) create interesting focal points and give structure to a young but rapidly establishing extension to...
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Waikuku Woodland Garden

This garden, owned by my parents and the first garden I ever designed, is an informal, rambling country garden in which I have learned a lot. The budget has always been tight but this has worked to our advantage in that the use of natural, low-cost, local materials gives an informal, handcrafted character to the place. The courtyards are entirely paved with free broken pavers, collected by the trailerload as they accumulated at the factory. Woven willow screens make a welcome change from the usual trellis, and ornamental grape and wisteria add seasonal drama. Part of the charm of this garden lies in the way the materials have aged so gracefully and the seasonal moss, leaf fall etc add greatly to its restful personality. Native planting in the more exposed areas of the garden adds textural interest and a dramatic theme change. Low maintenance mass-plantings help to reduce the...
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Kanuka

This dramatic contemporary home, designed by Novak and Middleton Architects, was set within a mature Kanuka forest. As much as possible of the Kanuka stand was retained, with trees up to and overhanging the house in several areas. The existing dramatic, simple forest cover meant little was required in the way of extra trees, but the forest floor became the potential area for development. Access around the site was created primarily with a series of boardwalks. These structures have minimum impact on the foliage cover below, and one appears to cut across the grass and sedge garden. The only impact on the plants below is to enhance the textural beauty of these mass-planted swathes. Stone has been used sparingly through the site. Stone cairns have been used to subtly highlight the entrance to the property, and steppingstones pick tracks through the forest floor.   Tweet...
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Waikuku-Rural

This development was completed in 1998 and is now fully completed with established homes and gardens on every section. The subdivision was  created on gently undulating inland dunes with views west over farmland to the Southern Alps – a highly conspicuous site which necessitated sympathetic treatment for it’s success. The boundary between the development and the adjacent farmland has been set aside as a planted reserve with native wetland species (originally this was designed as a series of ponds connected by wetland areas but the ponds were eventually overcome by the plants). These now form a wonderfully natural buffer zone between the two areas whilst allowing views over to the paddocks of grazing cattle with the plains and Southern Alps in the distance. The design included an informal section layout with the general undulations in the topography retained. Informal groups of trees and coastal shrubs were planted along the roadsides with...
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