Wellington garden designer uses home patch as a colourful testing zone

Melissa Bradford

Not all experiments are carried out in sterile laboratories.

The yard of designer Rachael Matthews is a mixture of her love of flowers and her horticulture trials to provide her prospects with the most effective plants. In accomplishing this, she has made an ever-switching feast of colour and interest.

From outside Matthews’ gate, it’s very clear to see a backyard designer life inside of. The garden on the roadside berm is laid amongst railway sleepers that mirror the sample of espaliered Chinese jasmine in her preceding backyard.

Just after making an attempt distinctive varieties of garden bulbs for two many years, previous year Matthews planted 25 garden crocuses. These drew lots of opinions from passers-by, and encouraged her to plant a different 150 bulbs this yr, but none surfaced.

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Matthews thinks both the rain rotted them “or Tim mowed them”, she states of her spouse with a grin. Undeterred, she will plant even a lot more upcoming year.

5 years back, Matthews and her loved ones moved from Kelburn to Khandallah, and currently their household is also her place of work, nursery, demo and display garden. Her back garden layouts for consumers are really structured with seasonal interest and this is mirrored in her individual garden.

Matthews has transformed what was a backyard at the entrance of the dwelling into a patio and below she retains topiaries for sale to clients, making a subject of clipped green constructions.

Water plants grow in the bowl beneath the lion head, a remnant of the previous garden, with pleached ornamental pears (Pyrus calleryana) on the nearby brick walls. Buxus sempervirens topiary cones and flat-topped pyramids join Buxus 'Green Gem' balls in the centre. 'Antique Orange' tiger lilies, Rosa 'Pierre de Ronsard', Physocarpus 'Shady Lady', and white mophead Hydrangea 'Bridal Bouquet' add interest and colour.


Drinking water plants mature in the bowl beneath the lion head, a remnant of the former garden, with pleached ornamental pears (Pyrus calleryana) on the nearby brick partitions. Buxus sempervirens topiary cones and flat-topped pyramids be part of Buxus ‘Green Gem’ balls in the centre. ‘Antique Orange’ tiger lilies, Rosa ‘Pierre de Ronsard’, Physocarpus ‘Shady Lady’, and white mophead Hydrangea ‘Bridal Bouquet’ include fascination and colour.

Double pompom Buxus sempervirens topiaries line up in front of ladder ferns in French urns.


Double pompom Buxus sempervirens topiaries line up in entrance of ladder ferns in French urns.

She likes to use disease resistant Buxus ‘Green Gem’, and is trialling Osmanthus ‘Pearly Gates’ with its reward of aromatic white flowers in wintertime. She also grows ivy topiary as an alternate to buxus as it is a much better performer in the shade and moist.

An decorative pear, Pyrus calleryana, is pleached versus the black fence of the patio – it is Matthews’ favourite plant for pleaching. In front of it are ‘Pierre de Ronsard’ climbing roses, and while they are staked, they have no body to scramble up as Rachael wants them to froth out “like champagne bubbles”.

As properly as the fences bordering the garden, there are others dividing the grass location out the again from the plant nursery. Each fence has anything escalating versus it to present customers how it’s doable to make an exciting backyard garden with just a fence. In the vegetable backyard, an apple tree is espaliered in the common process of teaching just a person layer a 12 months.

Espaliered Trachelospermum jasminoides with pleached Liquidambar styraciflua 'Worplesdon'.


Espaliered Trachelospermum jasminoides with pleached Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’.

On the reverse fence, a Chinese jasmine is trained on wires. A ginko espaliered against the back garden lose is developed – like the liquidambar – for its leaves. A few crabapple column trees grow from the back again fence. Another fence has a pleached liquidambar and on the other aspect are scarlet runner beans which Matthews vegetation every single 12 months, additionally sweet peas (planted in autumn alternatively than spring) and hops.

Matthews loves hops and finds they are a very good way to get guys to become enthusiastic about a new garden – “mention hops and they’re sold”.

The carport reverse the patio has a obvious plastic roof and is excellent for storing plants as properly as staying the ideal unloading bay. In Rachael’s past house, the truck motorists refused to travel up the steep hill so she had to meet them at the railway yards at all hours to accumulate her buys.

Matthews chuckles that Tim only got to use the carport for a day prior to she took it over and now their cars are parked on the travel.

Fast-growing hops vine Humulus lupulus.


Rapidly-growing hops vine Humulus lupulus.

A deck leads from the residence to a lawn Matthews would like to flip into a picking yard, but this “has to be negotiated with Tim”.

Around winter season, the dahlias she is trialling rest less than the kitchen windowsill in their black plastic pots and this year, Matthews is planting even extra kinds, aiming for a top rated 30.

Also on the deck are pots of massive, single bloom chrysanthemums to see how they would do in Wellington gardens about wintertime. Like dahlias, they are wonderful in autumn and Rachael thinks they may well adhere to in the dahlias’ footsteps for popularity.

Rosa 'Sally Holmes' in a giant trumpet frame.


Rosa ‘Sally Holmes’ in a big trumpet frame.

On a single aspect of the lawn is the vegetable backyard garden and on the other the foliage yard in which Matthews grows tons of vegetation in pots so she can go them about to see how they go with each other.

Amongst the foliage are numerous grasses, such as Stipa gigantea which she designs to mature from seed. “It’s lovely and there is practically nothing like it in New Zealand natives. The grass is clear somewhat than a major plume and has a attractive sheen. I believe about vegetation in conditions of what task they do and if it is a indigenous, terrific, I’ll use that, but if not I’ll use a thing else.”

There are also 7 fragrant versions of rhododendrons getting trialled but the gold medal has however to be awarded.

Is it much too windy in your yard? Expand these bouquets and plants.

Matthews has loved flowers considering that she was young when she made use of to pick and press them. On her kitchen windowsill is a row of little wine bottles, with a single flower in just about every. These are her “seasonal moments”.

She options it so that even in the depths of winter, there is something to choose and set on the windowsill. “Some flowers can be really insignificant but when picked and put jointly they are beautiful,” she points out. Bouquets of each colour sit side by side in Matthews’ backyard garden, even orange types, which quite a few people today stay away from. Of these gardeners, she states, “they have not observed an orange geum.” It’s a person of her favourites.

Matthews specialises in rising topiaries and plants in substantial black plastic pots as she’s frequently swapping crops all around and making an attempt new kinds. She enjoys bouquets but does not have plenty of house in the yard so puts in extra flowering and smaller developing limited period plants in pots that can be swapped out. “It’s like receiving four seasons of plants on one pot place.”

The giant triple topiaries are Buxus sempervirens and about 20 years old.


The big triple topiaries are Buxus sempervirens and about 20 several years previous.

The pots are put in rows on paths which are 1 gumboot large. The pots sit on a sandbed, which is a pool liner with sand on top rated. At 5am, the irrigation hose is turned on for 20 minutes to flood the sand bed, ensuring each and every plant receives the exact same amount of money of h2o so they increase evenly and the foliage isn’t watered.

Dated pics are becoming taken of a assortment of daffodils to see if the climate affects how they mature. Viburnums are getting trialled as a implies of extending the hydrangea season. Numerous pots are stuffed with unique poppies from professional plant and bulb vendor, Emerden Flower Farm, and Matthews planted 5 distinctive parrot tulips this yr to compare them. A number of deciduous azaleas are getting very carefully nurtured as Rachael hasn’t experienced any luck with evergreen azaleas beforehand. She is also seeking out distinct varieties and colors of phlox.

As nicely as roses developing towards the fence in the front back garden and on frames out the back, there are also roses in pots. Matthews stopped spraying her roses two decades ago. “Insecticides and fungicides block the food chain and harm soil existence,” she acknowledges.

Giant bird sculptures made from recycled tōtara oars look over Rachael Matthews' latest project, an espaliered Ginkgo biloba (against the workshed). The purple flowers of sweet rocket are nestled in pots amongst Christmas lilies.


Big chicken sculptures created from recycled tōtara oars glimpse over Rachael Matthews’ most up-to-date challenge, an espaliered Ginkgo biloba (in opposition to the workshed). The purple flowers of sweet rocket are nestled in pots among Christmas lilies.

Last 12 months, a couple of the roses “were terrible” so she’s hoping they increase this year. She now sprays the roses with seaweed foliar feed and diluted milk.

Garden design is Matthews’ 2nd career. Properly trained as a law firm, she uncovered the professional everyday living much too restrictive once she had young children so opted to comply with her lifelong enjoy of bouquets and practice in horticulture. Twenty decades ago, immediately after a year’s review at Massey, she begun developing amenity vegetation.

As small business grew, she moved her nursery to her parents’ Levin home and crafted up her purchaser base. This formulated into arranging plants to give an concept of how to improve them jointly, significantly “instant plants” these types of as hedges and topiaries which she sold at the Thorndon Honest and Wadestown Backyard Tour.

Gardeners commenced asking her for information on layout, and that turned out to be her forte. Matthews’ yard is frequently modifying as she tries out different crops, circumstances and combinations to come across the greatest answers for her designs. Her back garden also incorporates the vegetation she loves and grows for her very own enjoyment. In short, she has produced a splendidly rich and exciting tapestry of color, type and texture for herself and her household.

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