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  • Writer's pictureMartin Steel-Brown

A Garden Designers Home Garden: Part 3

This is the final part of a 3 part series.

To read Part 1, click here.

To read Part 2, click here SEATING ZONES

Creating seating zones are a fundamental element of a functioning garden. Without them, we are rarely encouraged into our gardens and therefore we miss out on opportunities to enjoy them. Seating zones can be formal or informal. Formal seating usually includes a dining table for large gatherings where informal seating provides a more relaxed setting that can be versatile in its use. Sometimes it is not always possible to create both formal and informal seating in small gardens, so it is important to really prioritise how you will use the space. If you only plan to have a formal sit down meal with guests once or twice a year, perhaps a dining table and chair isn't the best use of space for year-round functionality.

A casual seating zone positioned to capture the morning Winter sun

This was the approach I took with my garden. Sacrificing the dining table meant I could free up space for better flow while creating two distinctly different seating areas that take advantage of different views and aspects of the garden. One receives no morning sun in winter, where the other does. In summer, the other provides a reprieve from the hot afternoon sun. If formal dining was required, I was happy to simply move this to the inside dining table which faces the garden anyway.

Comfortable furniture was chosen to maximise space but to also allow for seating to be moved together for extending the seating area when entertaining, providing a relaxed zone for casual eating and drinking.

A third seating zone was created off the deck providing a different viewpoint of the garden.

The aim here is to provide a peaceful place to have a coffee or drink while feeling completely immersed amongst the plants. Shaded from the midday sun and placed up against a brick wall to maximise the use of space, this zone is an area for reflection while watching the bees do their thing. A concrete bench has been chosen for the seat and the ground surrounding it was paved with space between for a creeping groundcover. This not only helps define this seating zone, but the groundcover helps to soften and break up the grey concrete bench with the grey river stone pathway.

The third seating zone with creeping groundcover to soften and break up the grey bench and river stones


Planting out is always an exciting part of installing a garden. It is now that the garden comes to life and you get a real sense of how the finished space will look. For me, the hardest part here is making a choice on the plant list from a large list of wants! I wanted my garden to provide year-round interest, ensuring that there are plenty of flowers through the warm months and lots of structure to the garden in winter.

A mixture of topiary pruned plants, grasses, annual bulbs, and perennials were narrowed down based on their foliage texture, foliage colour, flower colour, and ability to survive the full sun, part shade, or shaded conditions, depending on which area of the garden they were to be planted in.

A soft cool colour palette was chosen to maintain the overall relaxed vibe, with purples, grey's and pastel yellows, pinks, and blue's leading the way.

Key plants chosen included a row of topiary standard Camellia "Fairy Blush" placed at the back of the garden bed with the intention they would grow to cover up the exposed watering tank, Pittosporum Golf Ball, Teucrium fruticans and Euonymus fortuneii were chosen for their variety in foliage colour and for year-round structure, Laurus nobilis for creating hedging screens, daffodils and tulips for Spring bulb displays and Armeria, Penstemon, Nepeta, Liatris, Campanula, Aster for reliable perennial flowers from Spring until late Autumn.


Like any major project, the detail is in the finishing touches and a garden is no different. Cushions for the seats and the use of outdoor rugs for the two main seating zones, make a garden room feel cozier and connected to the indoors. A cantilever umbrella was installed to provide shade in summer and maximise the ability to use the garden at any time of the year.

A geometric screen panel that matches the paving shapes used under the concrete bench was installed as a backdrop behind the second seating zone. Not only does this provide an interesting focal point, but it also covers up a section of black fencing and allows for small pots to be used for herbs, salad greens, and flowering annuals.

A wire trellis feature was installed along one side of the fence line, which would allow jasmine to grow up and provide cover against the fence. Its design was chosen to mimic the triangular nature of the garden beds and pathways.

Finally, large planter troughs filled with Laurus nobilis hedging plants were installed on the edge of the deck to create boundaries to all three seating zones, while also acting as a barrier in your line of sight showing just enough of the garden to entice you into it to discover it's hidden secrets.

The lounge zone with green feature wall and trough pots separating it from the garden

Thanks for following my journey. I look forward to opening our garden up to the public later in 2021. Stay tuned for announcements on dates and times and I look forward to meeting you then! - Martin Steel-Brown, Owner & Cheif Designer of City Botanics.

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Martin Steel-Brown
Martin Steel-Brown
Sep 11, 2021

Hi Richelle, We got it from Poynters in Auckland, NZ. Check out their website Are you from NZ? If you see anything you like we might be able to get you a dosc if you shop through us 🙂


Richelle Raeburn
Richelle Raeburn
Sep 11, 2021

Hi there, your garden looks beautiful! I was just wondering where you got the outdoor furniture from? Thanks so much, Richelle

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