We were lucky enough to enjoy an afternoon at this beautiful house on the cliff in Castor Bay late last year. The wonderful garden design framed the view perfectly - out over the Hauraki Gulf to Rangitoto and beyond. And yes - the pool was as cold as it looked for Molly & Charlie.
Sadly, we aren't all lucky enough to have a wonderful view like this, but we can all create a view within our own garden.
First, find an appealing object or view that deserves attention. That might be within your garden or you could "borrow" a view from outside your garden, as the owners have done here. This could be the point where the sun sets, a neighbour's beautiful tree or the Waitakere's in the distance. Within your garden, look for your focal points (if you don't have a focal point in your garden, it may be time to create one!) such as a bench, an impressive plant or tree, a water feature or an urn or vase.
You can also frame views within your garden too with arbors, gaps in fences, plantings and gates. Create a sense of excitement and intrigue as you move into the space.
In both cases learning to recognize axial relationships in your garden is one of the best ways to site your framed view. A visual axis or sight line is simply the line or view the eye follows from one point to an object in the distance. Stand in the area of your garden with the strongest or most appealing vantage point. This could be your front door, back deck or even inside your house looking through a window or open door. Look out from your vantage point and select the strongest object in view. This may be the vista of a river beyond, or a potting shed, a large tree or the steeple of a church in the distance. This line between point "A" and point "B" is your primary axis.
Once the scene or object has been identified and the sight line has been established, the next step is to consider ways to frame the view to screen out surrounding distractions and direct the eye toward the object or vista. This is much easier than you might think. The pendulous branches of a weeping tree can be removed above a path, thereby framing the path itself, heightening the pleasure for anyone who walks along the path. Allowing a climbing rose to trail around your kitchen window or offering a glimpse of your house through a grove of cabbage trees are just a few ways of framing your garden without a lot of effort.
In some cases, it will be important to screen undesirable views or objects to eliminate distractions, such as a neighbour’s house, power lines, or rubbish bins. Once you determine the view that you want to highlight, look for existing elements to help build your screen. Privacy fences, buildings, existing trees and evergreens can all be incorporated to eliminate distractions and frame the attractive components.
If you have a view that you would like to enhance or undesirable objects that need to be eliminated, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us help you with some free advice.
1. You don't spend any time in your garden!
It's summer and you want to be relaxing after work in the garden on these balmy evenings. If you aren't going out into the garden, it must mean it isn't a great place to be. Maybe you have nowhere to sit, either alone or with your friends. We can design these social spaces into your garden - so entertaining just happens effortlessly.
2. You don't invite your friends over in the summer as there is nowhere comfortable to sit with them.
Leading on from point 1, if you like to have people over, you need the right space to put them. Is your garden table big enough to accommodate them - do you have seating to cater for your friend's family & children plus your own? I've never heard anyone say their deck is too big, but I've seen plenty of decks that are ridiculously small. Our designs ensure that you will have spaces big enough to entertain successfully.
3. People aren't quite sure where your front door is.
If you have had the courier man turn up at the wrong door and give you a fright or you have to give friends clear instructions on how to find you, we can design clear indicators to your front entranceway - pots, letterboxes, stylish house numbers and taller entrance trees can all signal your front door.
4. You can look directly into your neighbour's house.
No one likes people staring straight into their home and we are asked all the time to screen out undesirable views. We offer some great planting options to increase your privacy from neighbouring properties.
5. Your garden is untidy and covered with weeds.
This is a sign that there is a mismatch between your garden and your ability to keep on top of it. Either you dislike the garden so much you don't care about it (mismatch between your style and the garden's style) or the garden requires more maintenance than you can manage (mismatch between your lifestyle and the garden's requirements). Either way, we match the garden to your ability to look after it and your own personal style, so you'll love to keep it looking great all year round.
6. You step on only grass when walking around your property.
Wet, muddy shoes and feet and mowing funny little strips of lawn. In NZ, the land where people go in bare feet, sealed or hard surfaces are great when you need to pop out to the veggie patch, hang out washing, use the BBQ or hop into the spa pool. We learn about how you behave, so we can design a garden which is comfortable to be in.
7. You can see your washing line when relaxing on your deck / in the garden / in your living room.
Do you want your friends to see your underwear collection when they pop by? Exactly - let's place the washing line in a spot where you don't have to see it when you are relaxing and having fun.
8. Your washing line has grass underneath it.
Oh dear - it's got really windy and washing has fallen onto the muddy grass. Concrete pad or pavers under the washing line please - say no more!
9. Your lawn doesn't have a defined edge to it.
Problems - grass migrating into the garden beds, messy edges, visually untidy = solution of mowing strip to keep your garden looking neat and tidy.
10. Your dustbins clutter the driveway or your front door.
Let's put the bins either in a bin unit or create a utility area in a suitable place where all the visually unattractive bits and pieces can go and it can be screened out of sight.
If your garden displays the signs that it needs a redesign, here's my email. Get in touch - I offer a FREE consult where we can chat about what you can do to create a garden that works for you, makes your life easier and adds value to your home.
1. Buying pots of differing colours, shapes, sizes & material
When buying pots, either buy the same colour or the same shape in the same material but not everything at once. The image above shows pots of a similar shape, material and colour but in different sizes.
2. Not buying big enough
When you buy a pot, the pot, or the grouping of pots needs to take up a third of the space it will sit in. This often means investing in a really large pot, or many large pots. The image above shows just how generously sized pots can look really great in a big space.
3. Not buying enough
Repetition works well when it comes to containers - buying the same container and running it along a pathway with the same planting can look striking.
For help sourcing, styling and planting your pots and containers, contact us via email today.
Was just asked this question by a client....
Can I spray the weeds around kowhai, without getting the kowhai – or do I just weed them out as best I can?
Well Kathryn - in an ideal world we would all have the time and patience to keep on top of all the weeds in our gardens and carefully weed each one by hand, but weed killer does do the job faster. You can now get good organic weedkillers and you can find them in the "organic" section in your local garden centre.
This is a great weeding hack using a plastic bottle. Remember, only weed on dry, still days, so the spray doesn't carry - but using this method, the spray is all targeted directly onto the plant you want rid of.
I know some gardeners who tape the bottle onto the nozzle of their backpack sprayer or pump sprayer - that works too.
To book one of our sparkly gardeners to come and weed your garden, send me a text on 021 549 161 and before you know it, one of our gardeners will have made all your weeds disappear as if by magic!
Successfully combining plants is a wonderfully creative art. Successfully combining plants that then thrive in the spot you want them to, takes it to the next level.
Here are a collection of stunning and effective plant combinations, that if put in the right spot are guaranteed to look amazing!
If we can help finding that spot, we'd be delighted to come and help you. Email me at email@example.com
I always notice when people get new fences put up around my neighbourhood. I like to see how they are constructed, good quality workmanship and any new ideas I can poach for my designs!
In the past few months, I've seen quite a few solid fences being constructed around my way. Lots of solid fences at 1.8m tall running right along the front of the section.
For new builds, the Unitary Plan is very specific on new front fences and walls, depending on your zoning. The following regulations are for the mixed housing suburban zone.
H4.6.14. Front, side and rear fences and walls
Purpose : to enable fences and walls to be constructed on a front, side or rear boundary or within a front, side or rear yard to a height sufficient to:
(ii) 1.8m in height for no more than 50 per cent of the site frontage and 1.2m for the remainder, or
(iii) 1.8m in height if the fence is at least 50 per cent visually open. (b) Within the side and rear yards: 2m.
What I understand from this, is that it is important that we can still see what is happening at the front of our neighbours' houses, in a passive, non-obtrusive way. In Hauraki, where I live, there has been a recent increase in burglaries. It would be interesting to know if those poor homes targeted are more "hidden away" from the main streets than others.
I personally think that running a solid fence along the front of your home doesn't add street appeal. It looks unwelcoming and harsh, especially without some planting in front to soften it. The Unitary Plan refers to that as "visually dominating". Imagine what our neighbourhoods would look like if everyone ran a solid fence / wall across the front of their property.
My advice for anyone thinking of replacing their front fencing is to contact the Council to ensure that it is compliant or ask your fencing contractor to check for you. I would hate for people to spend a considerable sum building a fence, only to have someone from the Council request you to comply with the new regulations. Currently it seems a bit of a grey area whether the new fencing regulations apply to new builds only.
Finally, what this means for garden designers is that we are having to be really creative - which is great! Here is a design we did recently for the front of a client's property, where 50% of the front is solid, with the remaining 50% being visually open.
If you are thinking of redesigning the front of your property, we would be delighted to assist with a creative solution! Contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: Emma Lakauski
More often than not, when we design for new clients, they ask for a low maintenance garden or even a no maintenance garden, to which we always respond that there is no such thing.
What you can do however is make some great choices on garden layout, plant & surface choices.
1. Opt for big garden beds rather than small ones. A densely planted garden bed filled with a tightly knit matrix of plants requires little grooming and pruning to control its size. Know how large each plant is going to grow so you can space the plants accordingly.
2. Don't forget to plant ground cover plants - they create a carpet on the earth, which makes it more difficult for weeds to take hold.
3. Keep lawn areas to a minimum and make sure they have distinct borders or edging. Install deep gravel paths instead of grassy walkways and think about increasing deck or patio sizes. I often say to clients that I have never heard anyone say their deck is too big, (say that in a Kiwi accent for a giggle).
4. Select plants for their drought-tolerance, suitability for soil type and hardiness. It is a great idea to employ the services of a garden designer at this stage who can suggest a portfolio of hardy, low maintenance plants that will complement each other and your home.
5. Make sure that if you are planting hedging plants, you know how tall they can grow. Nothing can be more expensive or high maintenance than keeping hedges in check.
6. Mulch, mulch, mulch - the best way to improve your soil and keep weeds down.
If you need advice on plants that would be ideal for a low maintenance garden, contact me via email on email@example.com and we'd be delighted to help.
Great gap fillers
Here is our pick of the bunch for great plants which can fill the gaps in your garden, between your show stopping plants and the ground covers.
If you need help choosing your garden's fillers, contact us. We'd be delighted to pop round and give some advice. Email us to book an appointment
I stopped my car to take photos of the front of this Westmere house today. Great architecture and great native plant selection for garden design.
The Poor Knights Lily, Xeronema callistemon looks great mass planted on the left. This is a fascinating plant as there are only two in the genus Xeronema. Its sister (Xeronema morrei) lives in the mountains of New Caledonia, whereas callistemon emerged from the Poor Knights and the Hen Islands near Whangarei. Looking great mass planted in pots too, it doesn't mind being root bound, and does well growing between rock features too. What it does mind though is getting wet feet, so it must be very well drained. Slow growing, the stunning bright red flower is well worth waiting for.
The plant combination on the right mixes Oioi (Apodasmia similis), with the striking form of the juvenile savage Lancewood (Pseudopanax ferox) with mounds of Muehlenbeckia axillaris. This low garden maintenance design combines the best in New Zealand native plant textures and forms and looks super stylish in front of this modern urban home.
This lovely front garden spotted in Rothesay Bay has a perfect contrast of texture, colour and form. The brown red Coprosma 'Red Rocks' winding its way through a contrasting Coprosma 'Poor Knights' as they both start to cascade over the retaining wall.
Climbing in the other direction, the Metrosideros perforata is a great choice if you need to cover a mass of retaining timber or block work. You'll be rewarded with a mass of white flowers in mid summer, which the bumble bees just love.
The background wallpaper of this composition is Macropiper excelsa, or Kawakawa, with its big heart shaped leaves. Kawakawa leaves are known for their medicinal properties too.
New Zealand native planting is all about using these wonderful textures and forms in interesting and modern ways, which can be brought into our home gardens. Native plants are often cheaper to buy than others and of course they are perfectly suited to living here!
For more advice and ideas on bringing native plants into your garden, get in touch with us below.
At this time of the year, when garden growth is on ‘turbo’, it’s great to give your soil a boost with our Fabulous Feed – a specialised blend of organic fertiliser that’s designed to give North Shore gardens what they need most.
A Fabulous Feed will improve the quality of your soil, increase and support growth, and strengthen plants’ resistance to drought and disease.
Contact us below to organise your Fabulous Feed.
October in New Zealand is one of the most exciting months for the garden. There is so much potential with Spring, springing forth, especially after all the rain.
So what are the big jobs?
Basically - FEED & MULCH. We are talking feeding citrus, lawns, roses, your vegetable beds, your plant beds, large leaved tropical plants, everything that needs a boost after the winter.
If you don't have dogs, then I love chucking sheep pellets over the garden. Not only do they feed but also improve the quality and texture of the North Shore clay soil. If you do have dogs, (dogs love to each sheep pellets!) get some of the plug and hose seaweed products and do a liquid feed.
Other jobs include:
Rose lover? - then it is time to plant, spray and feed.
With all this rain, get some Quash, slug and snail pellets and scatter those through the garden, around the plants that get munched.
With all the stunning Magnolia blooms bursting out, spring is nearly here.
The warmer soil prompts new spring growth, so it's a busy time in the garden.
Now is the time to get planting your veggies.
New herb plants can be planted into your pots or herb garden - basil, coriander, and parsley, ready for those summer salads and dressings.
As it is a little warmer with still the rain, now is the perfect time to sow new lawns.
If you suffer from prickles in your grass, spray for Onehunga weed.
In warmer areas, early tomatoes can be planted directly into the garden.
Spring is one of the best times to plant a new garden. If your garden is needing some TLC, some rejuvenation and a good tidy before summer BBQ's, give us a call and we'll pop over to turn your garden of need into the Garden of Eden!
Call Claire on 021 549 161.
Silver plants do a great job of reflecting the sunlight throughout your garden. In a shady corner, the silver gives a real depth between light and shade, reflecting light back into the garden.
My favourite (seen above as the main focus of this planting) is Astelia 'Silver Spear', a NZ native with large architectural foliage, which makes a bold statement in a bed or container. This plant can get to a grand size - 1.5m tall with a spread of up to 2m.
Convolvulus cneorum 'Silver Bush' is a good rock garden evergreen shrub with silvery, silky leaves & large pale pink & white funnel shaped flowers. It prefers a full sun & well drained position and not to be watered in dry periods. It is coastally hardy and prune it severely for new growth. It sprawls as a groundcover 60cm high by 1m spread.
Heuchera 'Prince of Silver' has shimmering leaves, overlaid with dark purple veins which age to a gentle shade of mossy green. In spring, the eye-catching foliage is joined by delicate sprays of creamy flowers that emerge from pink buds, 45cm high by 30cm spread
The last silver foliage plant that I have grown both in containers, spilling down the sides and also as a ground cover is Dichondra 'Silver Falls'. This fantastic silver foliage is drought tolerant and prefers full sun.
Silver plants never look better than when planted alongside lavender blue flowers such as Lavender, Agapanthus cultivars, Salvia, Sage or Iris.
So bring a bit of silver into your garden and breakup all the green. And for a free onsite garden consultation, where we can advise you on which plant to place where, call us on 021 549 161 today.
Pruning is the removal of dead or unneeded branches to encourage the growth of flowers. Usually a tree will end up devoting energy to branches that don't need it, while neglecting branches which are bearing more fruit. If you remove the branches that are taking all the nutrients, you will begin to see a flourish in the other ones. Pruning also keeps the tree in shape by keeping the branches even. This prevents it from becoming weighed down on one side. Having too many branches on one side could cause the tree to become permanently crooked.
Many gardeners don't even think about pruning their trees until they start to bear fruit. This is a big mistake, and you should never neglect to care for a tree just because it hasn't yet beg to produce. During the entire process of growth, you should prune the tree in a way that it is even and uniform. Then, when it does start to produce fruit, the results will be significantly greater. It is very easy to tell the difference between a tree that has been pruned regularly during its growth, and one that has been neglected. Generally the shape of the tree is much more natural looking if it has been pruned. The shape you are wanting to aim for is an open vase like shape with 3 or 4 main outward facing branches.
The first thing to look for when you start pruning is any branches which are dead or diseased. These are quite easy to recognise. Usually they don't bear any fruit, and might be misshapen or discoloured. Don't hesitate at all in chopping these guys off, as they are nothing but detrimental to the health of your tree. Sometimes a branch can be dead or diseased without making it too obvious. If this is the case, simply wait until the tree is flowering and it will become obvious by not growing anything.
The second type of branch to look for is the branch that is too close in range to all the other ones. If it grows at such a length and angle that the end is right next to all the other branches, they might end up crowding each other out. Take off the smaller of the two branches to allow the larger one to have the breathing room that it needs. This same rule applies to the weight balance of your tree. Sometimes, for reasons we will never understand, a tree will grow several branches on one side and weigh itself into being lopsided.
So hopefully I have provided you with a basic knowledge of pruning. There are more situations and types of branches that require pruning, but what I've outlined is the very basic parts. These can alter depending on how old your tree is. For example, for the first 3 years of a tree's growth it requires pruning that follows more informative guidelines. After the tree is well established, you will need to use regular pruning to keep it where you would like it to be. There are entire books written on how to prune trees depending on how old they are. There are far too many techniques for me to go over, so if you want to use these advanced techniques then head to your local library and check out a pruning book.
Sooty mould affects citrus trees and it is at this time of year when we are wanting to pick our lovely lemons for hot lemon and ginger to ward off colds and flu.
Sooty mould is a black fungal disease that develops on the fruit, stems and leaves. It is a secondary infection as it grows on the secretions of scale insects like aphids, mealybugs and whitefly.
To treat it - wash off the soot by wiping with a strong detergent / soap solution over the tree in the cooler months, like now! It is important to wipe off the soot as it can block the sun's light to the plant and reduce photosynthesis, which is essential for plant growth.
To prevent it - you need to deal with the pests that created the secretions - so spray the plant with a insect control spray, such as Yates Success Ultra at the first sign of bugs being present. If you dont like spraying, then an open shaped tree discourages insects, so give your tree a good prune this winter to reduce the density of its branches.
Autumn is nature's best planting time
This is a great time of year to plant, feed and fertilise. The soil is still warm and plants have the longest possible time to establish themselves before summer.
Feeding now means that plants go into winter healthy and ready for the next growing season - a liquid feed and sheep pellets will do the trick.
Mulch acts as a barrier, so a good layer now will help suppress those spring weeds.
Dig a hole twice as wide as the pot your plant came in. The hole should be the same depth as the pot your plant came in.
Gently remove the plant from its pot and into the hole. If the roots seem congested around the base, you can gently prise them loose.
Backfill with a mix of topsoil (the soil that came out out the hole), a handful of compost or garden mix and sheep pellets.
In heavy clay soils, like those on the North Shore, in Auckland, if you are planting a tree or shrub which prefer free draining soils, plant into a mound and improve drainage with some gypsum and compost. Add a slow release fertiliser too, for a great start.
Love your hedges & lawns and feed your plants. Here are some jobs in the garden this month.
Now is the time to trim, feed and mulch your hedges. Nothing looks better than a sharply defined hedge in a garden. Trimming now will mean the new growth will harden off before winter. I use Travis at Greengrass Property Maintenance for all my clients’ hedge and tree trimming and shaping needs, on Auckland’s North Shore. Travis has a great eye for detail – he used to be a picture framer! You can contact Travis on 021 619 266 for a quote.
Now’s the time to cut it back by a third. If you don’t, it gets leggy and woody. Cut at least two thirds of the new growth back into the old wood. This leaves new shoots below the cut, which is next season’s new growth. I know it is hard when it looks so lovely, but you have to be cruel to be kind.
Autumn is nature’s best planting time, so if you want to add something new into your garden, dig plenty of compost through your soil and get planting. Just remember to water new plants deeply at their roots every few days. Add general fertiliser around the garden to obtain that extra flowering and encourage growth - and don’t forget your citrus too.
Love your lawn
This warm weather is an ideal time to makeover your lawn. Sowing now means your new grass will be well established before the winter chill hits. I like the “Weed & Feed” combo products, which kill weeds and fertilise at the same time. Wait a couple of weeks to let the weed killer do its thing, then bare patches in the lawn can be filled with “Lawn Mix” to a maximum depth of 30mm. Dampen the soil then sow the lawn seed, raking or lightly topdressing (scattered layer of lawn mix over the top of the existing lawn) with more Premium Lawn Mix afterward. Lightly water in the dry days following.
Watering, weeding, mulching and feeding are the most useful jobs you can be doing this month in your garden.
Applying mulch around the base of your plants can conserve up to 70% moisture in the soil and suppresses weeds too.
Get your fruit trees ready for winter. Feed citrus trees with a citrus fertiliser for best results.
It is not too late to plant end of summer crops of lettuce and herbs to enjoy summer salads for as long as you can.
With forecasters predicting this summer’s El Nino weather pattern to be one of the top 3 or 4 driest on New Zealand’s record, what is the best way to water your garden?
Water more seldom but thoroughly
One to two watering sessions per week are usually sufficient: better to water more seldom but with plenty of water rather than a little water often.
Keep leaves dry
Water at the roots using a soaker hose, rather than shower setting if you have a sprayer – it’s the roots that need the water not the leaves. Wet leaves can become diseased leaves and leaves that are made wet in the sun can develop slight burn marks. Use the soaker setting for efficient watering at the root zone.
Water late in the evening or early in the morning
When you water in the evening, less water evaporates off the cooled soil and the plants can sufficiently supply themselves with water before the next day’s heat.
If you water in the morning and you do get moisture on the leaves, this gives them time to dry out. It's much more difficult for plant diseases to get a foothold when the foliage is dry.
Give the right water quantity
This means that the water must sufficiently reach the plant's roots. Low water quantities often only reach the top few centimetres of soil. Lawns and annuals concentrate their roots in the top 15cm / 6" of soil; for perennials, shrubs and trees, it is the top 30cm / 12". This means that in heavy clay soil, it may take hours for water to percolate down. Use your finger or a shovel to check the progress.
Water in stages
Water needs a moment to seep into the soil. To stop the water flowing away unused, it’s better to water repeatedly in stages.
Mulch reduces surface runoff and slows evaporation from the soil.
We feel a sense of well-being living in spaces that are light and look out onto attractive gardens and the views beyond.
A small investment in our garden can make a huge difference to how we feel and spend our time outdoors, alone or with friends and family.
A well-designed outdoor space can make life simpler, easier and more enjoyable. A place to entertain or sit with a cup of coffee in the morning sun; a place for children to safely play, without need for constant supervision; a place to park the car, store firewood, hide the dustbins and hang out washing on a sunny day.
Excellent garden design provides creative solutions to our needs and desires for our garden and when combined with thoughtful plant selection results in a beautiful yet functional, garden space which makes our life easier, healthier and more enjoyable.
We are thrilled to announce that Naomi Gray, landscape designer is working with us at Claire Talbot Garden Design.
Naomi brings award winning excellence in landscape and planting design to our team. Naomi was awarded the Landscape Industries Association of NZ Top Student Award, Landscape NZ Award for Excellence, Deans Award for Academic Excellence and the Anthony Tesselaar Award for Excellence in Plant Selection.
Naomi is passionate about creating garden spaces with beautiful planting design for our clients