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  • Writer's pictureMartin Steel-Brown

Work Hard, Garden Easy

2020 is certainly shaping up to be the year of the home. Staying home, renovating the home, and working from home are all becoming the norm for most Aucklanders, and it's evident that the more time we spend in the confines of our home spaces, the more value we want to get out of them.

With the entire garden industry buzzing with enthusiastic and ambitious green fingers, it would seem that for most of us, the garden has become a place where this value can truly be appreciated. Garden centres are packed, plant supply is getting tricky and pots are being sold and filled quicker than our importers can ship them in and spring has only just started! It's a crazy time but I'm excited to see so many people connecting to nature and finding peace in their gardens. One area where I am seeing the connections people are making with their gardens is in the ability of their green spaces to provide a gateway to healthy work-life integration. As we find ourselves working for 9 hrs a day at home behind our computer screens, the separation between our business and personal lives can prove to be difficult, but a well-designed garden space can help with the transition between the two by providing a place of retreat from our busy lives and stressful workdays. Whether you have a tiny apartment balcony, a small yard, or an underutilised deck, there is plenty you can do to transform that space into a functional garden retreat. Once established, your new garden room can act as an in-between zone for work and refuge.

Morning coffee in the sun surrounded by lush plants can be really grounding and help to shift your mindset into focus for the day ahead. Taking your lunch break on your balcony can feel like a real privilege and benefit to working from home, especially when that balcony is surrounded by flowers and foliage that keeps you calm yet motivated to continue your day. Then, at the end of the day or even the end of a long week, your garden once again provides a place of disconnect as you wind down and prepare for some well deserved time out.

Maybe your garden space has become your new office and now you find yourself powering through your daily emails to a backdrop of green, with the sounds of nature buzzing all around, keeping you productive, and helping you get through your day. However you choose to incorporate your garden space into your working life, it is important that you select plants that work for your space and environment, which is critical to success. This then needs to be followed by a sturdy maintenance plan that is enjoyable, fits in with your lifestyle, and doesn't feel like more work, as this can become counterproductive. There are many things to consider when selecting the best plants for your situation. Ongoing maintenance commitments really are subjective to each individual and your site aspect (Sun vs, Shade, Shelter vs Exposed) will have a big impact on your available choices. However, here some of my top picks for low maintenance plants that do well in small space gardens, are all suitable for pots, tolerant of dry periods, and can handle exposed and windy sites;

  • Grasse-like - Carex, Lomandra, Festuca, Dianella, Libertia, Dietes, Mondo, Liriope

  • Succulents - Crassula ovata, Echiveria, Senecio serpens

  • Perennials & Shrubs - Lavender, Hebe, Geraniums, Pseudopanax, Pittospormum, Coprosma, Corokia, Leptospermum

  • Trees - Laurus nobilis, Olearia, Olive

  • Herbs - Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Parsley, Sage

How you combine these plants to form a harmonious and attractive aesthetic, really comes down to clever design, how the plants are grouped and what pots are selected to tie the whole look together.

So if you're feeling a little cooped up at home or if you need to find some solace and balance in your working week, perhaps a well designed outdoor room is the solution you need.

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