A Cozy Coastal Bungalow Garden

By Jamie Reid of Jamie Reid Landscape and Garden Design Ltd, WELLINGTON

The Situation

This lovely early 1930’s cottage is positioned on an East-West axis with a small, potentially private garden at the rear; and a larger part of the section including off-road parking at the front had an existing garden which at best could be described as wind-blown, unstructured ‘seaside-style’ with hints of a struggling ‘cottage garden’ planting thoroughly inappropriate to this location.



A tumbled down stone-wall, with a small patch of grass surrounded by tired overgrown native shrubs left a small area for lawn and a path to the front door. This allowed a direct approach but also divided the garden into two smaller-than-useful bits plus it allowed wind blown sand up the street, into the garden and even into the house. The rest of the front section was taken over by car parking with a multitude of different surface materials/textures and styles.

Seatoun Garden


A beautiful large pohutakawa and one good cabbage tree, dominate this front garden, which has a sunny aspect facing East and North. There is also a warm sunny area to the rear of the house with an existing deck recently added but that didn’t quite offer all that the clients were after. An important part of their brief was that the gardens must both be low maintenance, easy-care yet productive.


Driveway car park before


Driveway car park after

There were various issues that presented themselves; working around the extensive roots of the established Pohutakawa, a multitude of pipes some in-use, most not, some buried, some not. A disparate selection of materials, restricted access for car parking due to a council telegraph pole and only limited useable space that was uninviting to sit in or use as it proved both crowded and shady.

The Design Solution

The plan was to start again from scratch, removing all the old boundaries, materials and plants except the Pohutakawa and Cordyline australis (Cabbage tree) A modern new fence built on top of a corrugated iron clad retaining wall surrounding the whole garden at one elevated level, excluding the proposed new car-parking area provided the new boundaries of the garden. Access to the house continued on from the car-parking area via an oiled hardwood deck (very much in keeping with the style and materials of the house) making a positive aspect of the journey around the Pohutakawa and past a Manzanillo olive tree to the front door and its mini-verandah. The olive is a new addition but being self-fertile will provide fruit for many years to come for pickling or making extra virgin olive oil for enjoying at lazy weekend meals.


The remainder of the front section was laid out for low-maintenance, site specific planting around a lawn positioned in the sunniest spot. Elevated levels allowed for walls to reflect the cladding style of the front retaining walls extending the continuity of materials into the garden itself, but perhaps more importantly allowing uninterrupted views of the sea over the fencing designed to provide privacy whilst cutting out the worst of the wind. This also gave an opportunity to provide interesting changes in levels and therefore fun places to sit and enjoy a calm moment with a cup of coffee in the morning.

Front garden after with sea view

Front garden after with sea view

A narrow gap down the North side of the building provided a path to the rear garden, important utility features such as washing line and dustbins, discreetly screened off. It also enabled the clients desire for more productive planting with a feijoa hedge, a peach and other fruit capturing the sun in one of the most sheltered aspects of the section.

The Client’s brief indicated they were keen to improve privacy as the rear of the house was partially overlooked. This problem addressed by planting a tall hardy native evergreen hedge along the rear boundaries (Olearia albida) in a raised planter that also provided excellent sunny seating when entertaining friends and a good spot for collecting harvested vegetables on. As the rear garden is both sheltered and enjoys the sun almost all day it was re-arranged to increase the useable space; including a larger flat lawn, a small raised veggie garden and extension of the decking to provide more lounging, entertaining space and a connection to the garden shed for all-weather access.

Back garden space after

Back garden space after

The aim of introducing modern materials to a design in-keeping with the age and style of the building has been successfully completed with space created to enjoy both gardens where previously there was none.

Client Feedback

“Many thanks Jamie for providing us with a garden that we will be able to enjoy for many years to come. Your suggestion to eliminate the path to our front door in favor of creating a private garden without compromising the view to the sea was inspired and this part of the garden is now a firm favorite.”

Visit Jamie Reid Landscape and Garden Design Ltd based in Wellington .


Digger Dan’s Monthly Garden Tips August 2012

Planting Now

  • Planting Potatoes: Prepare the potato patch for your sprouted spuds:  Dig Living Earth Organic Certified Compost through the potato patch, then dig a trench – the soil that is on the sides can be used to ‘mound up’ the potatoes as they grow. Varieties such as Cliff’s Kidney, Rocket and Jersey Benne are good early croppers. Plant potato tubers when the sprouts are at least 15mm. (If you experience frosts in this part of the ground delay planting for a month or so.)
  • Sow directly into the garden: carrots and radishes, sugarsnap peas, mizuna lettuce and coriander seeds
  • Sow under cover or indoors: tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum seeds
  • Winter Scent in the Garden: Daphnes, boronias, magnolias and some camellia flowers all have delicious scent wafting around the winter garden.   And for perfume in small spaces pots can be filled with potted colour such as mini cyclamen (white is best), wallflowers and stock. 

Plus, the little known, but highly scented Christmas Box plant, Sarcoccocca confusa, flowers around now. This is a great plant for dry shade.

Garden Care

  • Colour your hydrangeas:  Now is the time to plan for your flowers to be the right colour this season! Sprinkle Aluminium Sulphate around the desired blues and lime around your chosen pinks. (White never changes, but is best in light shade – the flowers go pink in the full sun).
  • Spray Fruit Trees  (and roses) – It’s the right time to spray copper fungicide to prevent leaf curl in peach trees and other fungal diseases in all the others.

Note: But if your fruit tree is already in flower, do not spray with copper

  • Frost Damage: Don’t trim too soon – blackened, melted foliage is the sign that a run of frosts last month dealt to pukas, rengarenga lilies and tree ferns. Once you removed the damaged leaves, it exposes the plant to any subsequent frosts, so maybe the end of this month, when it gets warmer, is the best time.
  • Weed Alert: Get the jump on emerging weeds by digging out or spraying unwanted plants. Their roots are still shallow at this time of the year, so by hand is easier.
  • Raised Garden Beds: Now’s a great time to start one (or more): Central Landscapes has kitset garden beds for you to install now and Living Earth Garden Mix to go in them, ready to grow fresh healthy food at home this spring and summer.

 Raised garden

Raised Vegetable Beds can provide a good crop yield

And don’t forget to pick up your free Planting Calendar at your local Central Landscapes Yard!

Lawn Care

  • To keep your lawn thick and healthy fertilise with Garden Supreme. If the weather is mild you may find an increase in the growth of your turf, so it will be important to keep on top of your mowing.
  • In early spring weeds may start to pop up, if this happens you may want to use a selective herbicide to take these out. This is important as if left untreated they can dominate your desired species and take over.



NZ Native “Kiwi gems” – some hints about care, selection and planting for your garden

By Wally Richards

New Zealand has a vast array of native plants which many New Zealand gardeners sometimes take for granted, as they are very common in their homeland.

Overseas, many of our indigenous plants are well sort after and considered prized processions.
I remember several years ago Kew Gardens contacting me to assist in obtaining a number of natives in ‘fresh seed’ form. I was able to purchase some for their requirements from local seed collectors and send them over to England for a special New Zealand Native Garden Kew was developing.
I still have a photocopy of the Kew Garden’s cheque, as it was such a highlight for me.

Through the Internet back in the 90’s several gardeners in America also contacted me for seeds of various native plants that they wanted for their collections. This stopped when seed importation into the US had to be put through expensive checks for bio security reasons.

Natives can be planted at any time with due care to their establishment, but the very best time to plant is in the autumn, as they require very little assistance to establish.

Native shrubs and trees have adapted to New Zealand conditions over thousands of years making them very suitable to grow in your gardens. The chances of failure is low as long as you don’t try to make one grow in conditions that it is not accustomed to. (Soil type and moisture aspects)

The more readily available natives from garden centres have labels outlining the best site and care. Some cannot handle wet feet for extended periods but most will grow in heavy soils as long as the drainage is reasonable.

Once established they need only an annual trim to keep them in shape and prevent their hogging the sunlight from their neighbouring plants. A few pests can attack them but as they are used to native pests they will survive without any intervention from you. (Mind you its nice to remove the pests and keep the foliage clean…)

Most natives are very suitable container plants as long as you give them a good size pot to grow in. A mix of mostly compost and a little top soil is a good mix for them and if you can, put a few worms into the mix to keep it open and aerated in the pot.

Cabbage Trees – Cordyline

Cordyline australis (image Bakerboys Wholesale Nursery)

Cabbage trees are good container specimens for large containers. Juvenile foliage makes an impressive display as the plant grows towards to sky. Later as it matures the older leaves can be discarded showing the trunk. (More impressive in my mind than Yuccas which are currently popular container plants.) Take the rich colour of Cordyline australis purpurea (the purple Cabbage tree) with its bronze like purple leaf colouring and you have a majestic plant for both garden and tub.
They take from very wet to dry situations with ease, don’t mind a bit of shade or care about soil type. The only pest problem they have is with the cabbage tree moth, whose caterpillars eat the foliage in summer.

Sprinkle Neem Tree Granules around the base of the plant in spring and again in summer for reasonable control. In fact most natives that have any insect problem can be solved with Neem Tree Granules and an occasional spray of Neem Tree Oil.

There are other Cordylines that you can grow also for their unique foliage such as Cordyline Stricta with its narrow sword like leaves.

Cordyline indivisa



A very popular native family is the Pittosporum of which there is such a diverse range of foliage types and colours. They do not tolerate wet feet for extended periods but are fine in drier areas. In one place I lived I had a very wet heavy clay section and found that my first plantings of Pittosporum failed until other natives were established and then they never looked back. They seed well and you can collect as many seedlings as you like later on. If you have a few different types near each other you will get cross pollination and the seedlings can be very different from the parents.

Growing from seed will generate much better plants than from cuttings but both propagation techniques are straight forward. It is easy to collect the ripe seed and sow them where you want the plants to grow. Ideal for wind breaks, screens, individual specimens as well as container plants. Spray the foliage with Neem Tree Oil about every 2-4 weeks from November through to March to keep the pest insect (Psyllids) under control. Psyllids cause the bubbles and distortions in the leaves.



Hebe wiri mist (image NZ Plant Pics)

Another big family of natives is the Hebe with a big range of foliage types and flower colours. Hardy, as they are suitable for any location that is not too shady. Several years ago a gardener in Palmerston North gave me a cutting of Hebe ‘sport’ that had appeared in their garden a few years before. It had foliage that changed colour with the seasons and lovely pink flowers. I had the plant registered as Hebe ‘Pink Goddess’ and is available still, to the best of my knowledge.

There are Hebe that have a slightly sprawling growth pattern and if you take one of these and plant it into a good size container. Next lightly trim the tips off all the branches and allow all the new shoots to grow. When they have reached a good size, tip them again. This can be done as many times as needed to get a thick display of foliage that sprawls over the sides of the container and reaches sky ward in the centre.

When the plant flowers, later on, you will have a great display as it should be just covered in blossom. I have not found any problems with any Hebe unless they become too crowded from other plants and then they become misshapen seeking the sun.

Hebe vernicosa


Pseudopanax arboreus (image NZ Plant Pics)

Pseudopanax are another very hardy plant for any situation. Fast growing with larger leaves than many other natives and they don t mind a shady spot. Tolerant of wet areas and the new forms have a great range of foliage colours including near black and yellow.
The coloured ones must have plenty of sun or they will lose their colours.
I used to love visiting a local nursery (P.Nth) called Midlands, when I had a garden centre and pick out Pseudopanax for resale from the great selection they have. Sometimes the coloured or variegated ones start to revert to green and when this starts to happen the green should be cut out. They are ideal for containers too.

Pseudopanax also can be affected by Psyllids marking the foliage, so spray with Neem Tree Oil when that happens. If I had more room, I would have a good collection of these natives.

Pseudopanax arboreus (image NZ Plant Pics)

Manuka – Leptispermum

Manuka – tea tree

Manuka or Leptospermum is another range of natives that now have a good selection of flower colours. They are hardy plants but are often attacked by scale insects that cause the black sooty mould. Neem Tree Oil will also keep the pest at bay. A few Manuka planted will thrill you when they flower.

Leptospermum scoparium ‘Burgundy queen’ (image NZ Plant Pics)

Kowhai – Sophora

Sophora microphylla kowhai (image NZ Plant Pics)

No garden is complete without a Kowhai or two to grace an area or container. I have one that I made into bonsai many years ago and at only just over a 40cm tall it flowers every year making a neat display.
The natives above are some of the most popular and you will find a good selection of them in your local garden centre and from the nurseries on

Wally Richards: rain + wind = havoc in the garden

The weather is playing havoc with gardens and plants throughout New Zealand.

Too much rain and then not enough, too much wind and temperature fluctuations.  Not ideal gardening conditions and plants suffer as a result.

I have had a number of people contact me in regards to three main things that have been happening to their tomato plants so let’s look at them and suggest what can be done to help or prevent the problems.

1. Temperature fluctuations can cause both Early and Late types of blight in tomatoes and the prevention and control is the same for both.

Early blight:  finding small spots turning to a dark mould on older leaves will indicate the presence of this problem. It occurs in warm wet weather, but plants can be protected with a monthly spray of Perkfection Supa.  If you know the disease recurs in your garden, give additional sprays of  Liquid Copper and Raingard every 10 to 14 days.

Late blight:  Here, you will notice brown, irregular patches on the plant’s stem and leaves.  This problem is particularly bad in cool humid weather, and it can be controlled using the same methods as for controlling early blight. If you have not applied Perkfection Supa and the disease strikes, spray the affected plants immediately with Perkfection Supa at 7ml per litre of water. Add to this 3.5ml of Liquid Copper per litre, with 1ml of Raingard per litre, and spray the plants for total coverage of the foliage.  Two weeks later, reapply just the Liquid Copper and Raingard, then after another fortnight, apply the same again with Perkfection at 4ml per litre. That programme will normally be sufficient to see the problem off, but if either blight returns, re-start the spray programme.  Late blight is common later in the season, but under the right conditions will strike in the spring.

Potatoes and pepinos are also affected by this disease, but you can give them a similar level of protection using the same sprays as outlined here.

2. Next we have the dreaded collar or stem rot disease where we watch a mature plant with lots of green fruit slowly collapse over a period of a few days.

The disease will make itself apparent with the development of a darker area on the trunk – that is where the rot will be happening, blocking the flow of moisture and nutrients from the roots.  Little bumps of aerial roots will often appear just above the rot area. If there is foliage below the part where the rot starts, particularly if it is producing laterals, then you can cut the top off and allow the good part to continue growing.  The chances are you will avoid this disease completely if you don’t remove any laterals, and if the plant succeeds in avoiding any damage arising from being rubbed on a stake or something similar.  One of the ways to prevent any problems is to remove the laterals when they are very small, which means checking the plant every day or two.  Remove them only on warm days when there is low humidity, and spray the cut area immediately afterwards with Liquid Copper. You can make up a solution of this product in a 250ml trigger spray bottle, and it will keep for some time.  Just remember to shake the bottle before spraying.

Removing older leaves might also make the plant vulnerable to disease.  This is another job which should be done only in conditions of low humidity, and always remember to spray to protect.

Humidity levels will often be much higher in a glasshouse, which means special care must be taken to open up the greenhouse and remove some of the air moisture before taking off the laterals. I have heard that if the rot on the trunk is not too far advanced then painting undiluted Liquid Copper onto that area may save the plant.

3. Finally the unpredictable growing conditions may cause damage to leaves especially the lower ones which may twist, curl and be spotted, wither and brown off.  Two aspects here – one is that a lot of tomato strains have a virus which does cause distorted leaves in maturing plants, there is very little that can be done about it other than removing those leaves when they are obviously not gathering further energy from the sun. Weather damage can be reduced by giving the plants more protection by spraying with Vaporgard, erecting windbreak cloth, adding more stakes for support and applying potash once a month.

Another problem a couple of gardeners have mentioned is blotchy ripening fruit which additional potash is needed. If you are using my Secret Tomato food and this happens then it would likely be the weather causing lock ups in the soil. Ensure that you have applied Organi-Bor to the area in the last 3 years (for Boron) and then drench the soil with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL). Sprays of MBL over foliage every two weeks will make for stronger plants with less health problems.

Neem Tree Oil can be added to the MBL which will then give further disease protection as well as a control for the insect pests such as white fly and the dreaded psyllid.

Talking about insect pests, this morning I was out inspecting what damage the wind had done to the plants and whether the plants in the glasshouses needed a drink or not. On the cucumbers which are coming away nicely I noticed a few small aphids on the fruit that was forming. A closer inspection and the turning over a few leaves I found hundreds of aphid pests on the underside of several leaves, not good, so tonight they will have a bath in Neem Oil and Key Pyrethrum spray. I had the same problem last year on zuchini and because the pests are under the leaves and not readily seen nothing was done till the plants actually started to die off prematurely.
A spray of the Neem and Pyrethrum knocked them back and the plants started to recover.
So with your cubit plants which also includes melons and pumpkins check under the leaves now and then for pests.

Leaf hoppers (the young are called fluffy bums) vegetable beetles, psyllid and other pests must be controlled on plants now otherwise you will have a real battle in weeks to come. Sprays of Neem Tree Oil with Raingard added can be applied late in the day, just before dusk to great advantage in keeping diseases and pests at bay. If you do not add the Pyrethrum you will not harm beneficial insects and only add the pyrethrum when you have a out break of pests on a plant/s so the spray is focussed on the pests. Not a broadcast spray which will affect both good and bad insects.

That’s another of the problems with all the chemical insecticides: they take out all beneficial insects and with some of them they don’t even harm the pest ones, which have now gained resistance to the poisons. Waste of time and money not to say anything about your health aspects.

On the other hand Neem Oil is not a poison and it does not kill anything unless the oil smothers a few pests such as scale and thrips. Instead it either shuts off the insects ability to feed or grow and when that happens they will die after a few days.

Happy gardening!

Wally Richards: January gardening

It might be the beginning of a new calendar year, but we are now actually halfway through a gardening year and there’s plenty to do.

The daylight hours are already beginning to shorten, though most of us will not notice the slow change until daylight savings ends.

Plant leeks now for winter

However the plants do notice and over the next few weeks the decreasing hours of light can be the trigger to flower and reproduce themselves before winter.

The weather forecasters tell us that we have a mild La Nina summer which can keep the normally dry areas wetter and the wet areas a bit drier. That bodes well for gardeners who are having a nice amount of rain falling on their gardens regularly, good plant growth and less need to water.

The downside is that with warmth and moisture comes leaf diseases that will run wild especially where foliage is dense and air circulation is reduced. Powdery mildew, black spot and rust are three common problems that are likely to occur if they are not already giving you problems.  Baking Soda; about a tablespoon to a litre of water with a ml of Raingard added is a great control of powdery mildew and will help prevent it as well. The same can be used for black spot as a preventive to the spread because the alkaline nature of baking soda helps prevent the disease getting started.

You can use the same to dehydrate the foliage of Oxalis to assist in its control without harming other plants. For this purpose use on a sunny day when the soil is on the dry side. With black spot damaged leaves will remain till they are naturally replaced.  Leaves that have black spot on them should not be removed as the rest of the surface area will still collect energy from the sun to the plant’s advantage.

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