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When Jo and Ross Mackenzie down-sized to the city from a 4ha lifestyle block in West Melton on the outskirts of Christchurch – first to a riverside property beside Hagley Park and then to 830sqm in Strowan – they were looking for less work but never imagined their latest abode would be the most tranquil.
“You wouldn’t know you were surrounded by houses,” says Jo, who puts the sense of serenity down to clever landscaping.
When the Mackenzies moved in last year, the work had been done. The previous owners had extended and renovated the 1925 house and their brief to Goom Landscapes had been to create a private but family-friendly garden.
With the garage shifted to the front and driveway removed, the backyard was a blank slate, aside from its most dominant feature: a 1970s kidney-shaped swimming pool. “Rather than starting again, we brought it into this century,” says company owner Tim Goom, who works on the philosophy that outdoor spaces are to be lived in, not admired from afar. The pool was left intact but edged with slate tiles, matched with a same-shaped spa pool, and both were fenced with glass to keep the confined area visually open.
Cut concrete, giving the effect of generous paving stones, surrounds the pool and extends to the timber deck. The deck itself is an extension of the house with large glass doors opening from the kitchen and living rooms at the same floor level.
“In summer we eat outside almost every night,” says Jo, who has furnished the outdoor living area with an array of furniture, all of which (except for a colossal polished concrete table) they move around to suit the occasion or season.
“We use every square inch of the garden,” she says. “It’s very well-designed.” The west-facing backyard catches the sun but is sheltered from the easterly wind.
If anything it gets too hot, the issue of shade is solved by a sturdy permanent canopy, mounted on a pole so it can rotate to cover the deck, spa or concrete table.
For the parents of 12-year-old, William, the solar-heated pool is an invaluable lure away from electronic devices. While evergreens have been planted in the pool area, including olive trees for a Mediterranean touch, blown-in leaves from deciduous trees in the neighbourhood create some work; but luckily Jo enjoys cleaning the pool. “I just zone out and find it quite satisfying.”
The garden is also a safe playground for their bichon chihuahua, Snoopy, and cat, Fendi. Black fencing, double-faced so there is no ‘wrong side’ on any boundary, provides both uniformity and an effective backdrop for plants. A short fence at the back screens the clothesline and a small raised vegetable garden.
With a low-maintenance mix of natives and exotics, the garden is predominantly green and cream with a touch of red when the camellias are in flower. Evergreens such as magnolia ‘Little Gem’, rhododendrons and bay trees are underplanted with silvery astelia fragrans flaxes, mondo grass, catmint and nandina while greselinia, buxus and camellia, some espaliered, have been used for hedging.
Jo and Ross bought the property in mid-winter and watched with delight as spring transformed the garden. Hosta ‘Big Daddy’ poked through bare earth and unfurled giant blue-green leaves, crab apple trees burst into a profusion of blossom and Jo’s favourite ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ dogwoods sprouted their distinctive buttery saucer-shaped flowers. “I think of it as a surprise garden,” she says. “It’s always changing, with every season bringing something new.”
Continue reading this article at the original source from Stuff.co.nz
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