“I want this garden to be an exemplar of what you can do with a standard urban site, in terms of how much can be produced, how beautiful it can be and how much biodiversity you can encourage.”
The backyard produces leeks, courgettes, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, red onions, garlic, potatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, pumpkin, carrots, silverbeet, lettuce, onions and climbing beans, the majority of which grow in raised beds. Chris cultivates potatoes and kumara in plastic buckets dug into the soil, which saves digging up the garden in search of wayward tubers.
He built the raised beds to his own modular design, with interchangeable chicken-wire nets and UV plastic to create a mini-hothouse environment.
Chris says rigorous planning and infrastructure, such as raised beds and quality soil, will establish a garden that will endure for years.
“My lesson from landscape gardening is to get the design right from the get-go. Make the upfront investment to quickly achieve a much better result,” he says.
While the front yard is dedicated to ornamentals, the rest of the garden is dedicated to food production, with some components combining the two. Two dwarf nectarines and a peach tree (all from Waimea Nurseries) are underplanted with masses of marigolds, which creates an attractive feature that produces oodles of fruit.
“Dwarf varieties are fabulous for an urban setting – they produce and produce and produce. The marigolds are purely decorative, and once they’re in full flower they reflect a delightful orange glow back into the house.”
Chris irrigates the garden with rainwater from a 20,000-litre harvesting system, which tends to run dry as early as January.
“That shows how much water is needed, but rainwater is so much better for the plants,” says Chris, who follows up with town supply until the tanks are refreshed.