The client wanted a low-maintenance, colourful flower garden that she could wander through and pick bunches for indoors. Her retirement unit was surrounded on four sides by a fragmented series of small, dated gardens, decrepit lawn, and awkwardly shaped beds, all sitting on water-retaining, reactive basaltic clays. My focus was to create a cohesive garden across all areas while recognising the widely differing microclimates and outlooks of each.

It was decided to dispense with the lawn altogether, replaced by paving, groundcovers or underpruned trees with lightly textured understoreys. Privacy screening was created with either manageable hedging species or small feature trees. Plantings were constructed to avoid obstructing windows while still shading where needed. Perfumed floral species are prevalent and strategically placed near windows and paths to encourage their scent.

The garden is gradually revealed instead of being visible all at once. Paths are curved gently to enhance the sense of space and to encourage meandering and pausing. A seat is located at the junction of two spaces, allowing a maximum view of two different areas. A separate seating area is more enclosed by the garden, when a sense of seclusion is desired.

Ornamentation is minimal, and simple, to avoid detracting from the foliage and flower effects of the planted areas. Paving is simple 600mm square bluestone to enhance the sense of space. Paths are bluestone steppers set into prostrate groundcovers, to introduce subtle variation. A simple arbour denotes entry to a different part of the garden.

The end result, newly planted by the client’s loving family over a weekend, is a personal, colourful, perfumed space that the client can wander through, watch the birdlife and pick her beloved flowers.