Words: Kerry Speirs Lead Garden Designer

We all love a beautiful garden. So, with all the lovely gardens out there, what is it that makes one stand out from the rest, attaining a kind of celebrity status in the garden world?

After all, we all have our own definition of what makes a garden gorgeous, beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all that. Yet, some gardens have universal appeal. They pop up in garden tours, magazines and, like our featured garden, they win awards. As professional garden designers we are often shown photos of these types of gardens by those who want to transform their own garden into similar creations. Though that is a good starting point in the design process, it is not necessarily the way to achieving a standout garden design.

1. Seek inspiration close to home.

Just because everyone else on social media loves timber filled Balinese-themed gardens, it doesn’t mean it’s the right direction for your garden makeover. Great gardens are designed in response to their own environments. They have context, as do the elements contained within them.  Look to your existing garden and neighbourhood for design drivers. In our 2019 award-winning courtyard garden, the pierced brick walls and masonry arches of the house, located in a heritage neighbourhood, were key influences in our design thinking

2. Be brave.

Once your ideas have some context, bring your individuality to the design. It’s easy to get hung up on playing it safe, especially if thinking about resale in the long term. We say, be brave! Let your unique personality shine through, and don’t be afraid to include a touch of whimsey. Whether it’s the arched gate you’ve always wanted, hot pink flowers or even a black and white tiled courtyard as a star feature, these personalised features, when implemented well, undeniably give a garden the wow factor.

3. See opportunities, not problems

“Wow” features used to deal with specific site challenges provide opportunities to create unique solutions that give your garden that star quality. The Stoneset ™ patio began as a response to site coverage restrictions and our client’s request for a low maintenance garden, evolving to include fresh green bands of mondo grass which create visual interest and bringing the seating nook to life.

Mondo and Paved sections garden
Stoneset and mondo grass

4. Look for treasures

Think carefully about what you take out: there may be treasures waiting to be discovered. A clever garden designer can weave established garden features into a garden makeover in a way that is seamless, giving instant impact that could otherwise take years to develop.  The pink rose long enjoyed by Mewburn Ave residents now twines around a gracious twisted-steel rod. This is threaded through the masonry pillars of the heritage boundary wall and now looks as if it has always been there, unifying and enhancing the garden frontage.

5. The flow on effect

A winning garden is not about achieving universal appeal.  Rather, it is about creating a cleverly and thoughtfully designed garden that fulfils the vision of the owner and is appreciated by others for its originality and design integrity. Be it with a small glimpse visible from the street or by opening it to the public, for those open to sharing the beauty of such a creation this can create a flow-on effect. Even if it’s not what others would choose for their own space, they will tell others about it. This can lead to it winning awards and featuring in garden tours and magazines, which builds recognition and underscores the fact that your creation is now a stand-out garden!

Learn more about this gold award winning garden in the October 2019 issue of NZ Gardener magazine; or experience it in person and talk to some of the people who created it during the Auckland Designfest. 16th & 17th November 2019.