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artistic sensibilities


From Habitat magazine - issue 19

Bold colour, fun planting and structural good looks are the signatures of a garden owned by an architect and an artist.

In late summer, tall yellow sunflowers set against a striking burnt orange wall painted in Resene Rock Spray greet visitors to Pete Bossley and Miriam van Wezel’s garden.

Artisitc home garden
This simple sunken garden is designed to be looked down on from the deck above, as well as from the kitchen. An elegant rectangular pond is planted with reeds (the native species Baumea articulata) and water lilies. Get the look with Resene Lumbersider tinted to Resene Mother Earth.

From a different angle, the sunflowers sparkle against the black of the Resene Sheer Black stain, edged in a strip of green Resene Mother Earth.

Rising up behind these cheerful blooms are the thin trunks and leathery leaves of lancewoods, an unexpected but strangely appealing pairing. Miriam, an artist who works from a studio converted from the old double garage on the ground floor, planted the sunflowers to give the tall lancewoods some colourful and seasonal neighbours.

For a house occupied by an artist and a leading architect, maybe it’s little wonder they have chosen bold tones for the exterior of their house. Says Pete: “We wanted colours to highlight the new rationale of the modifications to the house, which change it from the traditional bungalow to having a more spatial quality, with planes of colour ‘floating’ alongside or into the old house.

Sunflower bed
Garden walkway and patio
Not content with just one colour, Pete and Miriam chose a few, including green Resene Mother Earth, orange Resene Rock Spray, Resene Sheer Black from the Resene Woodsman exterior stain range and Resene Whiteout for the weatherboards. Get the look with Resene Lumbersider tinted to Resene Rock Spray.

“The planes of colour accentuate circulation, up to the front door for example, or provide a base to anchor the space – alongside the rear garden deck.” Pete’s love of structure is also clearly evident in the garden, the strength and solidity of its concrete paths, walls and furniture enhanced by the clever planting and carefully considered artworks. Designing their intriguing Auckland garden has been a collaborative process for the couple, taking place over a period of nine years in conjunction with the renovation of the house.

“It’s a work in progress,” says Miriam. “We enjoy mulling things over and sometimes it takes time to find the right decision or solution.” “We didn’t want a ‘naturalistic’ garden,” continues Pete. “It’s about the notion of landscape as architecture, organic versus man-made.

”The north-east facing property slopes up towards the house with the driveway on the left, terminating alongside Miriam’s studio. Opposite the drive what once was a “Kiwi lawn with some birch trees and shrubs” is now planted entirely with the native reed oioi creating an undulating sea of dark green foliage.

Outdoor patio
Garden reeds
Patio: As well as structural elements, concrete is also used for seating. On the rear deck is what Pete terms the ‘bus shelter’, a high-backed concrete bench that doubles as a wall, creating privacy from the neighbours.  Reeds: As the oioi reeds grow taller, Miriam sometimes ties those closest to the drive into ponytails to introduce verticality and form.

The couple have long enjoyed oioi in its natural coastal setting so they were pleased to discover it was the perfect height to screen a carparking slot and the courtyard in front of the studio from the road. Opposite the studio, concrete stairs lead to a narrow path that takes you to the front door of the house. A wonderful play of colour and textures enlivens this journey, with shuttered concrete walls on one side and the bold Resene Mother Earth and Resene Vibe panels of the house on the other.

The mosaic wall is a continuation of two interior walls Miriam created for both bathrooms on the upper and lower level, reflecting the couple’s desire to reinforce the connection between the garden and house.

At the end of this path along the northern boundary is another courtyard planted with pleached olives alongside the fence and a row of citrus on the opposite side. This simple, quiet white stone garden is designed to be looked down on from the deck above, as well as from the kitchen area.

Colourful garden path
Two quite different side paths – one with colourful panels in Resene Vibe and Resene Mother Earth and the other with textural concrete.

On the end wall of this courtyard is a small concrete ‘shelf’ still waiting for the right ‘inhabitant’ to come along but in the meantime it’s a space for changing artworks. A panel of smooth concrete behind the shelf differentiates it from the textured surface of the rest of the wall. This gentle manipulation of the material continues throughout the garden with different concrete surfaces varying from smoothly honed to strongly textured finishes. “We are not obsessed with waterblasting concrete, keeping it immaculate,” says Pete. “We like the way it weathers and stains. If you leave it to weather it takes on a patina that makes it feel more alive.”

Water is another element they both consider vital in a garden. The kitchen at the rear of the house overlooks an elegant rectangular pond planted with more reeds (the native species Baumea articulata) and water lilies. “We have the sea on one side of the house so it was about taking water through to the afternoon garden where we mainly sit. It’s nice to have that connection. It’s very hot in the back garden in summer so we like having that cooling element,” Pete explains.

Accessories: Azores jasmine (Jasminum azoricum). Sculpture: Humphrey IkinMosaic panel artwork.


Alternative solution – just bring the popcorn

take your movie watching out of doors

Landscape designer Adam Shuter suggests this alternative scheme:

This sheltered corner of the garden is the perfect spot for an outdoor movie theatre. A portable projector is placed on the concrete cylindrical plinth which doubles as a plinth for a piece of sculpture during the day. Movies are then projected on to the far wall. In the middle of the courtyard two part walls, painted in Resene Imprint, act as feature walls but also as something to lean your bean bag against while watching movies. In front of the feature walls, an open fire pit is formed by river boulders and is flanked by movable custom-made steel seats, which can be relocated to watch movies but still benefit from the warmth of the fire. The courtyard is finished in Waikato pebble, which is laid upon Natural Paving, a plastic cell system which stabilises the pebble for ease of walking. Planting is very simple with llily turf, corokia, Chilean guava and rushes in the pots, which are painted in Resene Kombi. The left side wall is painted in Resene El Nino while the opposite one is Resene Zephyr.

Alternative solution 1

This lower section of the garden is now an outdoor cinema, complete with firepit and bean bags. The back wall is painted in Resene El Nino with a space left as a ‘screen’, the shaped walls are in Resene Imprint, the left-hand wall is in Resene Zephyr and the pots are in Resene Kombi.

mobile 0226 820 283   web www.shuter.co.nz

Did you know... that Resene Waterborne Aquapel is the perfect product to keep your concrete surfaces protected against stains and dirt – making it easier to keep this outdoor movie screen clean?

Accessories: Coast Marine Bean, from Coast New Zealand. Waikato pebble set into Natural Paving. Fire pit made with river boulders. Pale rush (Juncus pallidus). Lily turf (Liriope muscari).


Alternative solution – crisscross colour

an explosion of colour brings this space to life

Rebecca Hammond and Grant Stephens of H&S Landscape Design suggest this alternative scheme:

This design retains the simple, modern lines of the existing garden and adds a bold explosion of interest through the use of colour in both the hardscape and the vegetation. This design is about creating fun through colour in the landscape; a space that celebrates colour. The walls are brought to life with bold lines of Resene Belladonna, Resene Sushi and Resene Blue Gem on a base of Resene Athens Grey crossing each other and mimicking the different angles of the existing tree trunks. Vibrant purple water lilies are framed in a pond to one side while channels of blue flowered pratia cross through the garden between decks finished in Resene Woodsman Decking Stain in Resene Natural. The vibrant green of the flax contrasts and accentuates the purple flowers of the water lilies and Hebe ‘Inspiration’. A hanging wicker egg seat at the back provides a comfortable spot to sit and be inspired while water flows gently into the pond.

Alternative solution 2

Criss-cross stripes of bold fun colour in Resene Blue Gem, Resene Belladonna and Resene Sushi are a striking art backdrop to this restful space. The walls are Resene Athens Grey and the decking is finished in Resene Natural from the Resene Woodsman Decking Stain range.

mobiles 021 159 2301 (Grant); 021 170 8983 (Rebecca)   web www.landdesign.co.nz

Top tip: Stain your deck with Resene Woodsman Decking Stain to protect the timber from the weather and keep it looking good for longer. See the Resene Exterior timber colour collection for options, available from Resene ColorShops and resellers.

Accessories: Pratia ‘Blue Stars’. Pine decking finished in Resene Natural from the Resene Woodsman Decking Stain range, from Resene ColorShops and resellers. Mountain flax (Phormium cookianum). Hebe ‘Inspiration’. Pod chair, from Interior Design Online.

excerpted: from the book Contemporary Gardens of New Zealand
words: Carol Bucknell (modified for this article)
pictures: Sally Tagg
illustration: Malcolm White


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