With a client’s brief desiring a cool and tranquil garden space to inhabit during the summer months, a redesign of their rear and front gardens was to achieve congruence between the existing formal layered planting scheme, and the new garden.

For the rear garden, “our clients were chasing an outdoor area that was undoubtedly beautiful to look at from within the house but would entice people out,” according to a statement by Ian Barker.

“With a love of being outside in the warmer weather, our clients wanted a space where they could sit informally as a family under the mature Elm trees. Their key request was for the Elms to be retained and the landscape to remain a calm and peaceful space.”

Working parallel to the openness of the loungeroom, a water feature was designed to be the focus of the garden.

The feature consists of a 290mm deep rectangular black tiled pond constructed on a 100mm reinforced concrete base with masonry block walls, finished with a polished black granite exterior.

Three white porcelain bowls sit atop the surface of the pond, with the illusion of the water floating out of the bowls into the pond.

“When the water feature is running, the sound of greatly cascading water and the lovely ripples created on the water is still, the pond is highly reflective, resembling black glass and providing a mirror image of the bowls, the sky and the magnificent trees above.”

Encasing the pond is a hedge of clipped Buxus sempervirens – the manicured hedging reinforces the formal style of the space and ties in with the existing garden, “ensuring a consistent look.”

With a bluestone paving with brick inserts replacing a small existing deck, the paving is designed to match and extend from the existing paving in the side garden.

A paving step was also added between the lounge room entrance and the garden in order to provide an integrated and accessible transition between the garden and the house.

An intimate seating area designed to fit three to four people was positioned to the left of the water feature and is under directly under one of the large Elm trees, making it a cooling spot to sit and relax in summer.

The seating area is private, being out of view from within the house, being sure not to detract from the visual impact of the water feature, but close enough to create a peaceful atmosphere amidst the running water feature.

“When it came to planting, we introduced a mix of lush, leafy and flowering plants to soften the space.”

“In doing this, careful consideration was given to choosing plants that complement and enhance the existing formal planting scheme, rather than work against it.”

Three Forest Pansy trees were placed in different garden beds as anchor points, “creating balance and harmony in our garden design.”

“When in leaf, these trees add beautiful colour and texture to the garden, and they produce stunning pink blossoms in early spring. In winter they add structed qualities of the garden.”

The garden beds contain a mixture of flowering plants including Winter Rose, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Dwarf New Zealand Rock Lily, ‘Royal Purple’ and Kaffir Lily.

In the rear garden bed, Buxus spheres of varying sizes were placed in amongst the softer planting, and in front of the pre-existing pleached Ficus hillii hedge to add structure and create sculptural interest.

The Buxus spheres also tie in with the front and side garden areas, echoing the shape of the existing standard Figs and newly planted Buxus spheres in pots.

“Just as our clients had envisioned at the outset of the garden design project, we have created a beautiful and peaceful space that is still in keeping with the traditional, structured style of the existing home and garden.”

“The garden is incredibly functional, flows brilliantly and offers ample planting to soften the hardscape. We believe the overall result is a carefully considered, cohesive space that has some serious wow factor.”

Key products used:

-Water feature was a 290mm deep rectangular black tiled pond constructed on a 100mm reinforced concrete base with masonry block walls and finished with a polished black granite exterior

-Three white porcelain bowls atop the surface of the pond

-Existing Elm trees

-Buxus sempervirens (English Box)

-Cersis canadensis (Forest Pansy trees)

-Helleborus x hybridus (Winter Rose)

-Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea)

-Arthropodium ‘Te Puna’ (Dwarf New Zealand Rock Lily)

-Liriope muscari ‘Royal pURPLE’

-Clivia miniate (Kaffir Lily)

-Pleached Ficus hillii hedge

What were the solutions?

“To create a view from the lounge that would be a showstopper,” subsequently designing a water feature, surrounding the pond with a hedge of clipped Buxus sempervirens (English Box).

Surrounding the pond with manicuring hedging to reinforce the formal style of the space and tie it in with the existing garden to ensure a consistent look.

“Fulfilling the client’s wishes for an intimate seating area designed to fit three to four people to create a cooling spot to sit and relax in summer [that is private and also enjoys the peaceful atmosphere created by the running water].”