South East Asian inspired gardens

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ARTICLE Jules Moore, PHOTOGRAPHY Jules Moore.

A 1970s bungalow set on an elevated, hard-to-develop, sloping site in Titirangi is transformed from a higgledy-piggledy overgrown garden, into a tranquil South East Asian inspired garden-room sanctuary. 

Have you ever felt totally overwhelmed about a landscape project, to the point where years later you’re still wondering where to begin? When homeowners Jono and Neil reached this point they knew they needed expert advice. After purchasing an idyllic 1970s bungalow nestled in the hills of Titirangi on sloping site, it became increasingly important to them to have some levelled surfaces for entertaining purposes. As both have busy lifestyles, they wanted to create an outdoor area that they could come home to and relax; a haven of sorts, a space where they could feel like they were still on holiday. Gardens they’d seen in Vietnam, Bali and Thailand formed a theme for the design and to get the project underway they called in landscape designer Jules Moore of Plantetearth Landscapes. 

Jules extensive building and design experience teamed with a good knowledge of all facets of hard and soft landscaping, was just what Jono and Neil needed. Together a practical plan was created to maximise the space available. The result was an L-shaped courtyard area with a flat area of five metres by five metres. The climatic conditions and clay soils also meant that raised gardens filled with fertile soil would need to be incorporated into the design to achieve the desired result of lush sub-tropical plantings.

The project kicked off with the diggers completing a classic cut and fill job, making the necessary flat area for the new courtyard. The addition of block walls – keeping within permitted height restrictions – allowed for outdoor rooms to be created. After the walls were constructed, the most challenging part of the design was visually disguising the level changes from the top to the lower level, without compromising the contemporary flow.

The best solution was to introduce a long rill of water, and in front of this, a functional board walk, so that when viewed from the lounge it would lead the eye beyond into the garden. The boardwalks evoke a sense of fun into the landscaping, and Jules stepped these up to create a metre-wide day bed with a seat and cushions. It adds another dimension to the space and lowers the look of the high block wall behind it.

Planting-wise, the gardens are a unique combination of formal, minimal and lush subtropical, which feature in different parts or rooms of the garden. A gorgeous Lepidozamia cycad with a simple underplanting of black mondos, creates a bold statement at the front door. In other areas where layered plantings would not have been as effective, minimal planting provides an uncluttered look. Balinese statues, tapered stone pots and stands of black bamboo add to the South East Asian appeal. While the bamboo is kept in check by regularly stripping off the lower leaves, overall the gardens require very little maintenance, a hallmark of a well planned and executed landscape design.

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This article by Jules Moore featured in Issue 004 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
 

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