Peter Fry Subtropical garden landscape auckland

Tropical delight on the shore – Peter Fry

Tropical delight on the shore

The brief on this Mairangi Bay property in simple terms was “I want to be in Fiji without leaving my backyard”. With this in mind and an openess for creativity we went about our task with a passion.


 The interest and challenge was the movement and placement of 40 tonne of boulders. In the middle of winter and limited space this was not for the faint hearted.

These were incorporated as a dual effect in being used for creative retaining as well as adding strength and contrast in the garden.

The major success of this landscape is the clean and fresh prescence of insitu concrete that incorporates white cement and limestone.

Result: The balance between practical space and tropical paradise has been wonderfully received by this happy family.

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Public Places

Planting Public Places Productively

Landscape Architect Jenny Wood from Natural Habitats shares her ideas about planting public places.

If you have the benefit (or the curse) of living in a city, you will have noticed that on average our backyards are getting smaller, while our waistlines are getting bigger. You don’t have to know a lot about physics to realise that these two trends will eventually arrive at an impasse. But before that happens, perhaps there is something we could do to avert a human logjam.

One step in the right direction could be to improve access to fresh fruit. With shrinking yard sizes, recent landscaping trends and the ever increasing cost of living – access to fresh food is now a struggle for many people.This brings me to the notion of productive planting in public spaces. Over the past 20 years or so, landscape architecture has seen our public spaces predominately planted with natives, with low maintenance and aesthetics the main priorities. While these designs are seen as visually appealing – and while I definitely promote native planting, they offer little in terms of produce for people or the ever-important bee.At Natural Habitats we believe that public spaces such as parks, reserves and streetscapes should be making a greater contribution to the physical and psychological health of our societies. By planting fruiting trees such as mandarins, feijoas, apples, and walnuts – and even perennial herb species such as rosemary and thyme, the local community could have access to a source of seasonal healthy fresh food.Collecting fruit right off the tree will not only save you a penny, add to your ‘five plus a day’ count, inspire a greater connection with nature, increase your feel good factor and foster a collective sense of community well being; it will also reduces transport carbon emissions associated with food.At Natural Habitats, we are practising what we are preaching and have designed and planted orchards in neighbourhood reserves at Stonefields, Stage 1 of the Tamaki Transformation Programme and also at a number of retirement villages throughout the North Island. We have found that residents are enjoying the health, financial and social benefits of accessible fruiting trees. Residents are interacting with each other, arranging ‘fruit bottling’ get-togethers and taking ownership of the project to ensure its prolonged success.We have continued our research with specialists at the Council, the Botanic gardens and also Landcare Research to develop a disease and pest resistant palette of fruiting trees suitable to the fickle Auckland climate.Our aim is to challenge the conventional notion of what a desirable landscape is. We believe a landscape must be evaluated not only in terms of its aesthetic, but also the value of its contribution to society. As populations continue to grow, we have no choice but to make the best use of increasingly limited spaces, and that means prioritising a landscapes functional role.

 Jenny WoodNatural Habitats 

For Jenny landscape architecture is about understanding the various processes that are acting upon the landscape. Jenny takes a holistic approach to design, producing resourceful, practical and creative design solutions that have a strong emphasis on sustainability and cultural needs.

Her experience spans the realms commercial, public open space, streetscape and private residential landscape design. Having entered the landscape architecture profession with a background in nursery work Jenny has a sound understanding of plants and their functionality within the landscape, knowledge which is evident in her work.

Jenny received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Unitec and is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects (NZILA)


The Almighty Ponga and little knows facts

The good old Ponga log is as kiwi as fish and chips, boy racers and the word “prang”. Traditionally Ponga was used by Maori for medicinal and structural purposes. The leaf stalk is used as a treatment for skin problems, as a poultice for boils and abbesses and has antiseptic properties. Ponga gum can be taken internally to expel worms and the fronds can be boiled to prepare a remedy for diabetes; so there you go…

Cyathea dealbata – Silver Fern, Ponga

The trunks in their various forms have been used for whare (house) walls, structures and fortifications.

The Ponga also supports the leaves of the ‘silver fern’ an iconic symbol of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Ponga logs available for gardening are sustainably sourced and are bi-products of the plantation forestry industry. They can be used as living walls to create lush green screens and many other uses including retaining walls and carvings to name but a few.

Landscaping ideas – a ponga log bathroom! – from Julie at Ponga’s Direct
If you are looking for inspiration for how ponga logs can be used in your garden, a great place to stop off is YardArt Designs & Landscape Supplies near Pukekohe. Tricia Joe from YardArt  has come up with a rather unique display for our pongas that she has called their “ponga bathroom”.

The Pongas Direct ponga logs have been used as the walls of the display bathroom, including a window framed into the ponga. There’s a bath that nestles in well among the ponga and of course no ponga bathroom would be complete without a toilet! The ponga logs have a natural raw look and the trunks are sprouting little plants. Go around the corner of the display and the bathroom theme continues. There is a shower area in the shape of a koru with the walls again all made of ponga logs. This display is definitely worth a look!

Trents Nursery Ellerslie ‘Show Offs’

Trents is once again providing the Ellerslie International Flower Show with a multitude of fantastic plants for the Exhibition Gardens, and two entries in the ‘Show Offs’ category – exciting new plants for the garden – in the Go Gardening display inside the Hort Galore marquee.

Scabiosa Crimson Clouds and Leucanthemum Banana Cream (pictured) are delicious…

Tekapo detail2

Subalpine beauty in the Mackenzie Basin – a article

The Montane garden, Lake Tekapo.

An article by Philip Smith, O2 Landscapes

The diversity of New Zealand’s flora is, in large part, due to the kaleidoscope of landscapes that we possess. Ranging from sub-tropical forests in the north to the alpine herbfields of the South Island, our country provides us with a myriad of ecologies to study and use as inspiration for making gardens.

Amongst the most interesting of these are the subalpine scrub and dry grasslands that characterise the Mackenzie Basin and nearby natural areas (such as Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park).