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good for the soul

From Habitat magazine - issue 21

Up came the plants and in came a stunning and tranquil courtyard garden.

Moving north to the sunny climes of Hawkes Bay inspired Steve and Annie Harrington to give their garden a radical makeover.

Courtyard garden
The renovated courtyard is now a tranquil yet uplifting retreat for family, friends and guests.

Magical views capture the colours of the changing seasons over the Tukituki Valley from this tranquil rural spot, making it perfect for the couple's home, and their accommodation and day spa business.

Their vision of glorious, beautifully planted outdoor entertaining spaces weren't borne out with the newly purchased property. A draughty corridor between the home and garage meant the courtyard wasn't as sheltered as it could be. The garden had "done its dash. It just wasn't going to work. The trees in the central courtyard had grown too big," says Steve. The entry was also badly positioned and lacked the sense of arrival expected of a quality guest retreat.

Outdoor kitchen
A sensational outdoor kitchen is the centerpiece of the courtyard, finished in Resene Half Ash to match the walls of the house.

Most importantly, Steve and Annie wanted a "real showpiece" in the sheltered courtyard; an inviting, yet relatively easy-care, semi-tropical enclosed area for guests that would set the scene for the uplifting experience they were about to embrace when staying here.

As for the colour choices, these were obvious. A palette of natural hues in various shades of sand, to silver grey and green was selected to harmonise with the existing walls painted in a green-edged neutral Resene Half Ash and darker trims and doors in Resene Grey Friars. That colour combination, says Annie, suits the crisp clean lines of the home and gives a smart, formal quality to the courtyard that they like.

Courtyard garden and pool
A pool is part of the multipurpose courtyard.

Shots of colour and sweet-smelling plants were key to create allure around the day spa, explains Annie. And with Steve's background in advanced lighting systems, sensational outdoor lighting was always going to be part of the scheme.

When the former owners agreed to spend a year longer in the property, perfectionists Steve and Annie had the chance to spend time carefully planning the changes. Integral to the project was landscape designer Charlotte Pedersen of Espaso Verde.

Home entry
Courtyard entrance
Double doors: The impressive double doors leading to the house are stained in Resene Cedar from the Resene Woodsman range.  Courtyard entry: For instant impact at the courtyard entry, Charlotte created a water feature over which the path hovers. Dark blue LED lights are set around the borders to create mood at night. The walls either side are Resene Half Ash.

The house and a lap pool along one side now completely define the courtyard with an impressive central outdoor kitchen and a large sitting area with an outdoor fire. As soon as they began digging the soil Charlotte discovered, "it was all revolting clay. So everything had to be dug out and replaced," which gave carte blanche for a totally new look.

Outdoor seating
Beyond the courtyard walls, two seating areas include this pod chair with the new limestone retaining walls behind it, and a deck among the trees.

For shape and form, Charlotte planted enormous Ligularia reinformis just inside the entry. Ilex crenata hedging defines the edges of the garden complemented by softly veined Heuchera 'Green Spice.'

Small maple trees change colour with the seasons, cycads add sculptured texture surrounded by silvery Lomandra longfolia Nyalla grass, native iris and handsome grey-green Euphorbia x martinii. Citrus trees line up against the wall closest to the outdoor kitchen ready to offer their fruity abundance.

Paradise stone inlays add detail to the courtyard floors and marry with the limestone walls built in terraces at the front of the house. Between the stone inlays, coloured concrete gives a warm sandy hue to the paths.

With the planting completed, boosted by plentiful winter rain, the Harrington courtyard garden has matured into an elegant outdoor room – the perfect setting to enjoy balmy Hawkes Bay summers, relaxing and entertaining with friends, family and guests.

Did you know...

Did you know that in busy courtyards like this you can recolour the concrete with Resene Concrete Stain, either to rejuvenate the original colour or to introduce a new colour? See the Resene Decks, paths, driveways and recreational areas colour range for colour options.

Accessories: Design: Charlotte Pedersen, Espaso Verde, ph 027 432 4949 Paradise stone and coloured concrete.

Alternative solution – Mediterranean magic

travel to the Med with this soothing walled garden

Emily McEwan of Outright Landscape Design suggests this alternative look:

Bold and striking, this Mediterranean-inspired outdoor scheme has a strong underlying structure, softened by ample planting and the gentle sound of running water. The sensory experience is amplified by the use of fruiting plants such as lemon, bay laurel and Myrtus ugni hedges (Chilean guava) which when laden with ripe fruit in autumn emit a heady strawberry fragrance. Taking reference from the Roman Peristyle gardens of thousands of years ago, a chunky timber pergola in Resene English Walnut stain frames the space, supporting the elegant hanging panicles of wisteria 'Lavender Lace'. Resene Ayers Rock as an exterior house colour contrasts with the azure blue mosaic tiles of the pond, making the space sing. Invigorating, yet restful, this dual entrance and private walled garden suits its location perfectly.

Alternative solution 1

Mediterranean magic is created with Resene Ayers Rock walls, a roof and front door in Resene Blackout, pergolas and posts in Resene English Walnut from the Resene Woodsman stains range, and window frames in Resene Pearl Lusta. Also featured is a bespoke metal grape-leaf wall-hung sculpture by Forged and Crafted, and Bruma Azul Meditteraneo 25mm mosaic tiles from Tile Warehouse.

Did you know... that Resene CoolColour paint reflects more of the sun's heat than standard paint, to reduce the stress on the coating and surface? It's ideal for darker colours used on exteriors.

phone 03 489 1331   email

Accessories: Capri 600mm square tiles in grip finish in Black and Beige, from Tile Warehouse. Ridged Urn water feature, from Carine Garden Centre. Ligularia reniformis. Wisteria 'Lavender Lace'. Lemon trees.

Alternative solution – simple yet strong

strong design gives a heightened sense of arrival

Heidi Stewart of Canopy Landscape Architects suggests this alternative scheme:

A strong sense of arrival is achieved by simplifying this internal space. The stone wall provides separation from the entertainment area, creating a tranquil arrival experience. The sculpture provides a key focal point within the centrally placed arrival court and a green wall creates a lush backdrop to the sculpture and softens this space. The simple yet strong design is enhanced with a richly exotic materials and plant palette. Natural materials including stone, concrete and dark stained timber in Resene Treehouse provide texture and interest. The lush sophisticated plant palette includes a native theme with groves of nikau palms under-planted with Poor Knights lily, ferns, grasses and reeds with a backdrop of textural plants on the green wall.

Alternative solution 2

A sense of arrival is created with a distinctive Paul Dibble sculpture and a pathway flanked with lush plants including nikau and Poor Knights lilies along with alpine hard fern, oioi reed and prickly shield fern. The timber is stained with Resene Treehouse from the Resene Woodsman range, the house is Resene Sea Fog and the roof is Resene Grey Friars.

Top tip: Stain timber with Resene Woodsman waterborne or solventborne to protect the timber from the weather and keep it looking good for longer. See the Resene Exterior woodcare colour chart available at Resene ColorShops and resellers.

phone 03 5488 551   email

Accessories: Asro Puzzle light, from ECC Lighting & Furniture. Nikau palm. Poor Knights Lily. Florafelt Greenwall, from Greenair. Sumner schist veneer, from Original Stone.

pictures: Tim Whittaker
words: Vicki Holder
illustration: Malcolm White
illustration: Canopy Landscape Architects

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Printed copies of habitat highlights are available from late March 2024 at Resene ColorShops and resellers, while stocks last. You can view back issues of habitat magazine online.

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