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nature's way


From Habitat magazine - issue 23

Rugged, earthy colours take the lead in this stunning mountainous garden.

For most of the year, the owners of this Wakatipu holiday home occupy an Arts and Crafts style house in tropical Singapore. But for their five-hectare section on the Crown Terrace near Queenstown, they envisioned something completely different.

Front terrace and garden
The front terrace opens up to the grandeur of the view and includes a pond that is fed by a 'stream' – a cleverly upcycled drainage ditch.

Specifically, a contemporary house that snuggled into the contours of the site; accommodated groups of up to 10 family and friends with ease; and drank in the jaw-dropping views of Lake Hayes, Lake Wakatipu, Coronet Peak, the Remarkables and everything in between. And they wanted the house and its garden to incorporate and reflect the colours, plants and materials of the glorious landscape around them.

Bright red home entrance
The bright red Resene Del Toro front door is a pop of colour in an otherwise earthy colour scheme.

The brief was music to the ears of Queenstown architectural designer Simon Adnitt of Walker Group Architects and landscape designer Brooke Mitchell, a director of Baxter Design Group. In the Wakatipu, the landscape is the hero. You draw inspiration from it. You complement it. You can't possibly compete with it. Anyway, properties on the highly visible Crown Terrace aren't allowed to. The district plan requires homeowners to use dark, recessive colours that retire into the landscape, not light-reflecting colours that intrude and impose upon it.

Neither Simon nor Brooke wasted any time humming and hahing about their brand of paint. Both say Resene is enormously proactive and supportive in their respective fields and that the company understands the kind of products required by those who work with them.

Brick chimney
Home garden
Home garden in the mountains
Resene Wanaka was chosen for the retaining walls for its ability to complement the planting... not because it honours a nearby town.

With the exception of the eye-popping red front door in Resene Del Toro – and there's a reason for that – the finishes on the house and hard landscaping are subdued but warm. Most of the natural materials were locally sourced, for example, the lion's share of the schist used for chimneys, the outdoor fireplace and stone wall came from the bottom of the Crown Terrace; the Lower Shotover furnished the stones and boulders in the 'rugged creek', which is Brooke's reincarnation of an old storm-water drain.

Simon's team matched the colour of the powdercoated aluminium parapets, fascias, guttering and window sills to Resene Gunmetal. For the lower part of the house they chose Resene Gravel, a brownish grey that works with the tussock growing against it, the cedar walls and stone.

Curved garden retaining walls
Garden walkway
Curved walls: Sweeping curved walls in Resene Wanaka mimic the shape and colours of the landscape beyond. Walkway: Timber boardwalks and concrete paths intersect.

And that red door? Resene Del Toro can hardly be called 'recessive'. That side of the house isn't visible from the Wakatipu Basin so it isn't subject to council regulations, enabling the design team – and their Singaporean clients – to inject a small but meaningful shot of colour. "To the Chinese, red symbolises good luck," says Simon.

Home exterior
Both the colours of the house and the garden purposefully blend with the dramatic surroundings using craggy tones such as Resene Gravel and Resene Wanaka.

There's brilliance in the garden as well. The house nestles in a small natural basin towards the rear of the west-facing property. The owners asked Brooke to enclose it with landscaped plantings which gradually thin out towards the boundaries, merging with existing rye grass, wild broom, scrub, gorse, matagouri and shelterbelt trees. They also asked him for some seasonal variation.

So he wrapped the house with sculptural forms of lawn, grasses, retaining walls and the creek, which terminates in a curved pond animated by low waterfalls.

Garden and driveway
Get the warm cedar look with Resene Waterborne Woodsman Heartwood. Get the front door look with Resene Lustacryl tinted to Resene Del Toro.

Firmly of the view that a large group of a single type of plant impresses far more than a large group of assorted varieties, he assigned one to each part of the garden – carex, flaxes, red tussocks and golden speargrass to replace the 380 snow tussocks consumed by the plague of rabbits that almost brought Brooke to his knees before the plants grew too old and tough to interest them. Conversely, the indigenous flora – which makes up about 60 percent of his plant list – includes plants chosen precisely because they are mouthwatering to native birds.

Spring brings forth the pink froth of flowering cherries; late summer delivers apples and pears; scarlet oaks and Jeffersred maples provide autumn fireworks. Two icons of Central Otago planting add their colours to the picture: hornbeam hedges are yellow in autumn, amber in winter; and lavender donates its purple flowers.

The garden's only candidate for paint was the terraced plaster retaining walls, filled with red tussocks. Brooke settled on a slate blue-grey which beautifully complemented his plants, the house and the tones of the wider landscape.

He claims the fact that Resene Wanaka celebrates a local town had nothing to do with it. But he likes the coincidence. "It was named by Resene with Wanaka in mind."

Did you know...

That there's more to this house paint than meets the eye? Because dark colours soak up heat, and because summers on the Crown Terrace are scorchers, it can get very hot inside. To mitigate that, Resene CoolColour paint was used, a formulation that allows dark shades to reflect more of the sun's heat. Surfaces remain cooler than they otherwise would, helping to keep the home cooler. It also helps extend the life expectancy of the paint and whatever lies beneath it.

Accessories: Landscape designer: Brooke Mitchell, Baxter Design Group, www.baxterdesigngroup.co.nz. Designer: Simon Adnitt, Walker Group Architects,www.walkergrouparchitects.com.


Alternative solution – wide open

an expansive terrace adds generosity to this garden

Designer Michelle McDonnell suggests this scheme:

The strong horizontal lines of the house have been reflected in the garden with a clipped hedge at the back, a wooden pergola finished in Resene Waterborne Woodsman Tiri and a new stone wall in the foreground. The retaining walls and base of the house are finished in Resene Half Foggy Grey.

Alternative solution 1
The house and garden elements have been given a contemporary smoky scheme in Resene Half Foggy Grey and Resene Waterborne Woodsman Tiri to blend into the landscape.

The planting is a mixture of native and exotic. Nikaus soften the walls and give the garden a vertical element and visual cohesion. Mondo grass adds year-round greenery while the deciduous ornamental grape on the pergola gives seasonal variation with amazing autumn colours. It provides shade in summer but lets light through in the winter. Two outdoor 'rooms' have been created: under the pergola and by the fireplace. The pergola softens the lines of the house and frames the view from within. The fireplace links to the existing chimney and becomes a focal point of the outdoor space without impacting on the views.

Did you know... that there are a wide variety of Resene Woodsman stain colours suitable for outdoor use? Pick up a Resene Exterior Timber Stains colour chart from your local Resene ColorShop or reseller, or order online from www.resene.com/ordercharts.

phone 021 717 596   email d_m.mcdonnell@xtra.co.nz

Accessories: Michelia Yunnanesis hedge, Mondo grass, from Palmers. Concrete flagstone with concrete 'sleepers', from Paving Worx. Masport barbecue, from Mitre 10.


Alternative solution – leafy retreat

a sunken seating area invites you into this garden

Charlotte Pedersen of Espaso Verde Design suggests this scheme:

The sunken courtyard has been designed to extend the outdoor living space and link the house and garden together while providing an inviting space to sit and relax or unwind with a glass of wine in front of the outdoor fire with friends and family.

Alternative solution 2
A shady dell-like space is complemented by a house in Resene Waterborne Woodsman Cedar stain with walls in Resene Surrender and joinery in Resene Half Tuna.

A simple plant palette has been carefully selected to complement the style of architecture and the surrounding expanse of the natural landscape. Mass planting has been used for effect in large blocks using contrasting foliage, shapes and forms. The blocks of the planting link in with the design of the house while the use and repetition of local schist stone links the landscape with the surrounding environment.

Did you know... that there are a range of Resene Concrete Stain colours to enliven your outdoor spaces? See the Resene Decks, Paths, Driveways and Recreational Areas chart for colour options, available from your Resene ColorShop or reseller, or order online from www.resene.com/ordercharts.

phone 027 432 4949   web www.espasoverde.co.nz

Accessories: Trendz Outdoor Fireplace, from Trendz Outdoors. Oioi/jointed wire rush (Apodismia simillis). Dwarf green flax, from Palmers. Corokia Geentys Ghost clipped hedge, Living Walls™, from Twining Valley Nurseries. Schist for paving inserts.

pictures: Claire Takacs
words: Prue Dashfield
illustration: Malcolm White


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