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Double delight!

Auckland’s Second Nature doubled up in the Premier Awards category, taking the Supreme Award and being named Premier Horticulture winners!

Second Nature picked up the awards for its work on the Natural Urban Courtyard garden project.

“The challenge was to create an amorphous, texturally rich garden within a confined space, impacted by a tall, two-storeyed structure,” explained Second Nature director Janet Clarke.

“The garden is primarily a viewing garden that provides a meandering route from A to B, stimulating the senses rather than being merely an extension of the house.”

In selecting the project for the Supreme Award, judges were highly impressed by the work undertaken to achieve the result.

“The design of this small, elegant, urban courtyard in the heart of Auckland demonstrates a rare sophistication and is in perfect harmony with the architecture. The initial design was illustrated by beautiful, atmospheric drawings that completely captured the design concept.”

A key factor that caught the eye of the judges was the design’s environmental considerations, particularly the use of sustainable materials or techniques, while Second Nature’s ability to make the most of a small space was also praised.

“There is a genuine attempt to reduce the footprint associated with this garden, as evidenced by the high levels of permeability, careful material selection and a desire to support pollinator species.

“There is an exceptional interest in plants for their own sake, and these have been combined with a sure hand. The courtyard demonstrates how even a small space can be designed to bring people and nature together in a truly delightful way.”

Additionally, plant species were chosen for their hardiness and low maintenance requirements, built structures were kept to a minimum, and impermeable surfaces were minimised with the use of gravel.

Horticultural heaven

Space and budget constraints were also a key consideration, combined with the need for easy maintenance – successfully navigating these considerations made the project a clear Horticulture winner, said the judges.

“This is a small garden with a big heart. Informally arranged to enhance the sense of space, it delights with its seasonality, edible fruits, leaves and herbs. It is both a space in which humans can relax and a haven for fauna. The limited colour palette and complex layering of textures combine to create a calming environment that appears larger than it is.

“Underlying the plant choices is the deeper understanding that time and climate may require some planting revisions, and these are planned for and welcomed. This garden is light on its feet. The planting is fluid and responsive to whatever the climate might throw at it in future.

“The client’s interest in sustainability comes through in this garden on a very subtle but clever level, and the message is clear; this garden could set the trend in this climatically uncertain world.”

A match made in heaven

In terms of plant selection, the use of exotic plants and natives produced an exciting mix.

“We wanted to create a garden that was textured, frivolous, playful, exciting and experimental – and thankfully it was a direction that the client was only too happy to follow!” said Janet.

“The complex layering and seasonality of English herbaceous borders counterbalances the orthogonal design of the house, while the striking Ficus dammeropsis in the patio planter responds to the difference in scale of that space.

“The limited space led to the decision to include a relatively high number of trees. A high canopy would require the gaze of the observer to move vertically, adding to the sense of scale.

“When selecting flowering perennial plants for a small garden, it was important to ensure they either repeat flower or regenerate their foliage throughout the year, so as to maintain presence without leaving gaps.”

Credit must go to designer Andy Hamilton, as it was his plans (above) that Second Nature followed.


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