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  • Writer's pictureMartin Steel-Brown

A Garden Designers Home Garden: Part 1

I spend the good part of my weeks either digging in my client's gardens or designing garden spaces for new clients to enjoy, and I absolutely love it. For me, creating gardens is the perfect balance of working outdoors, having a creative outlet to explore, and running the day to day aspects of my own business. Rarely though do I get to design my own garden space from scratch, so when the time came to design and build a garden in my new home, I thought it was a great opportunity to share my journey with my followers and provide insight into the process of creating a garden retreat in a small space yard. THE SPACE

My husband and I purchased a new home in Hobsonville, Auckland and moved in at the end of January 2020. The townhouse property sits on about 190 sqm with the back yard consisting of only 45 sqm. It is medium density housing at its best and something that most Aucklanders are not normally accustomed to. However, my previous living arrangements consisted of a 4sqm balcony and a 15sqm courtyard, so for me, this feels like garden luxury! The yard itself hadn't really been touched since the property was built 5 years ago and in typical developer and builder fashion, the finished space was far from complete. The ground was hard compacted clay, the fence was roughly painted with a single coat, the deck poorly built and what was suppose to be "a lawn" was a patch of ground overrun by weeds and mostly dead by the end of the dry summer. Funnily enough, though, it was its simple finish and lack of character that excited me the most! A fresh canvas, waiting to be developed.

THE DESIGN PLANS My original idea was to develop the plans over many months while watching the garden change over the seasons. Mostly because I wanted to take my time to piece together my perfect garden and making decisions in my own space as a garden designer is very challenging, but also because I didn't think I would have much time to work on the yard while trying to run the business. Then lockdown came and suddenly I found myself with plenty of time on weekends staring at the bare yard watching the weeds multiple, and so I decided to start the design process. Measuring up the site and taking note of the aspect was easy and determining that the existing soil was pretty awful wasn't hard to pick either! The hard part came when I had to decide on the design style and direction. When you are a designer with all of the choices in front of you with a long wish list, it's a hard decision to make! However, after 3 well thought out design alternatives, I settled on one that used straight angled lines to maximise the size of the garden beds while still providing easy access through the garden.

THE PLANTS I absolutely love flowers and can't get enough of them. There are just way too many in the world for me to appreciate in one lifetime! So it was an absolute given that my own garden would feature a heavily floral planting scheme. Overall I wanted to achieve a cottage garden feel, but in a structured and well-defined way that wouldn't over dominate the small space and yet would still provide plenty of seasonal interest over the course of the year. Normally I present a detailed plant list for my clients so they can clearly visualise what it is that I will be planting in their gardens prior to installation, but in the instance of planting for myself, I wanted to let my inspiration and creativity run wild by selecting and collecting plants over many months while visiting nurseries.

So with the plans in place and the planting direction decided, it was time to begin installing... Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 of my personal garden journey...

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