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Archives for October 31, 2016

Mobile Web – Lifestyle – 5 garden tips for the week starting Oct. 29

Winter harvest

Plant cool-season vegetables within the next few weeks. These include beets, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, peas, radishes and spinach. You also can plant Swiss chard in its variety of colors, as well as parsley and more. Some will be ready to start harvesting in December.

Time to act

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, if you want to plant drought-tolerant shrubs and groundcovers, get them in the ground now. The roots will develop over the next several months, so they can be fully drought-tolerant next year in case the drought continues. Consider planting ornamental grasses, lantanas, manzanitas and more. But do it soon.

Rain on the way

Prepare your property for hoped-for winter rains. Start by providing pathways for proper drainage (hopefully not into your neighbor’s yard). Clean rain gutters. Maybe even purchase water barrels to collect and store the rain that comes down from the rain gutters. And check your roof and any skylights or vents. They may need a new application of water sealant to prevent leakage; old sealant often shrinks or cracks during hot, dry weather and needs to be repaired.


Take time to clean up your garden by removing any fallen fruit, old vegetables, plant debris and weeds. Many weeds are releasing seeds now, so timely removal will greatly reduce the threat of weeds, and your efforts now will help to prevent problems from pests and diseases in your garden next season.

Smart option

Aspidistra is a good evergreen ornamental to put in very dark, shady areas. It does not produce noticeable flowers, but it is always attractive and stays under 2 feet tall. Its wide arching leaves look rather tropical. Called the “cast-iron plant,” it grows happily in conditions that would kill many other plants — including in containers indoors. Once established, it is nearly drought-resistant. A rich-looking variegated form also is available.

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Garden of the week: A Pahoia garden with a pond, pool and putting …

The view from Philip and Celia Crawshaw’s home looks out to the west over the tennis court and the pond with its island and golfing green.

The reflection pool, a swimming pool below (beyond the corokia hedge that is level with the lawn) and the Pacific ocean in the distance.

Paul Dibble’s Long Horizon sculpture is sited in the reflection pool.

Philip and Celia Crawshaw in front of the guest room; the painting is by Bill Hammond.

Bluebell, one of the two miniature Highland cows. Hebes line the path from the driveway towards the vegetable garden.

A water fountain for thirsty tennis players – admittedly a fancy one, made by sculptor Paul Dibble.

Hebes line the path from the driveway towards the vegetable garden.

Celia walking Roger and Roxy down the zigzag path towards the beach.

The pool house, the property’s little retreat; the hot spring pool is located in the right-hand part of the building.

The view from the hot tub, looking north.

The water fountain is located between the tennis court and the harbour; the thriving cabbage trees were planted by the Crawshaws.

In the entrance courtyard sits another Paul Dibble sculpture, Soft Geo.

When Philip Crawshaw’s youngest son James declared a yearning to be married at home, it came as no surprise to those familiar with his family’s property. Philip and Celia Crawshaw’s six hectare block sits on a coastal headland in Pahoia, just north of Tauranga, where it’s safe to say the setting of James’ wedding this December will be memorable.

Vows will be exchanged on a grassy knoll with the blue Pacific as a backdrop and pohutukawa standing witness. The property wraps around the coastline and the pohutukawa blossoms bring flashes of red to the cliff tops. Philip and Celia have replanted the steep land leading down to the water’s edge with karaka trees, flax, astelia and Coprosma repens ‘Poor Knights’, but the pohutukawa remain the stars, Celia says.

It’s 14 years since the couple bought the block of bare land, and seven years since they moved into the home they built there. The intervening years were industrious ones, as Philip began planting the site years before construction started.  

The reflection pool, a swimming pool below (beyond the corokia hedge that is level with the lawn) and the Pacific ocean in the distance.

“The land was rutted from deer, and old deer fencing was still up when we bought the property,” Celia says. “Philip had the foresight to start the landscaping as soon as we bought the land and that has really paid off. This meant the gardens got a really good start, as did the majestic kauri grove at the top of the driveway.” 

Before building began on their modernist home, which was designed by Warren and Mahoney, Christchurch landscape architect Robert Watson worked with the architects on some of the planting design and on positioning the driveway and pond. 

Just for fun, Philip decided to create a small island in the pond, with its own golf hole (balls fired at the island are of the floating variety). What he didn’t anticipate was that his wife would become a mad-keen golfer, who would come up with the idea of a putting green, which sits above the house and is accessed via a meandering crushed shell path flanked by hebes, flaxes, rengarenga lilies and grasses. There’s also a second golf hole, with the tee sited so that Celia can hit out to sea, aiming at another island – a small, rocky one with a fledgling pohutukawa growing on it. Golf balls are retrieved when the tide is out.

Philip and Celia Crawshaw in front of the guest room; the painting is by Bill Hammond.

While swinging a golf club has brought hours of enjoyment, there’s a more serious, environmentally focused side to the couple’s vision for the property. 

Philip says their respect for the land’s stunning location influenced their planning, and native plants were the obvious choice. Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest plays out here, with mass plantings of hardy specimens such as hebes, grasses, flaxes, rengarenga lilies and astelia that are just right for the coastal environment.

Garden designer Trish Waugh was also involved in the project, and she knew that an unfussy garden would complement the modernist house. So planting was kept simple, consisting only of corokia hedges and a big bank of muehlenbeckia sprawling down to the tennis court. In contrast, the plantings around the edges of the site are more naturalistic.

Bluebell, one of the two miniature Highland cows. Hebes line the path from the driveway towards the vegetable garden.

Expanses of lawns add drama to the garden’s design. The Crawshaws employ a gardener three days a week, and much of his time is spent lawnmowing and hedge trimming.

It’s worth traversing these manicured green carpets, as the property delivers surprise after surprise. 

There are pa site remains, caves where Maori stored food and a fire pit, a comparatively recent addition that designer Trish Waugh deemed a garden essential. It’s inspired by the idea of beacons being lit along the coast as they were hundreds of years ago. Philip walks the dogs to the fire pit most mornings and also enjoys clay pigeon shooting from this elevated position with its commanding water views. 

The view from the hot tub, looking north.

“We have a lot of fun around the fire pit. At Christmas we sat around there in beanbags with the neighbours. And it’s where Philip and I chose to farewell the last of summer this year, with a barbecue and a couple of GTs,” Celia recalls.

A wending path leads from the fire pit, past the place where  James’ wedding will be held, downhill via a tractor track to the water’s edge where a hot spring pool and pool house is sited.

A previous owner had framed the natural, tidal hot pool with concrete blocks and there was an old bach to the side. The Crawshaws have tidied up and tiled the pool, and renovated the bach, adding a modern shower and toilet as well as bunks. It’s perfect for overflow accommodation when family visit (Celia and Philip each have three children). The pool house is also an excellent base for all the water-based pleasures this property offers – paddleboarding, water-skiing and jaunts in the couple’s amphibious boat. 

Hebes line the path from the driveway towards the vegetable garden.

The couple couldn’t be happier with their property; a place that offers so many opportunities for relaxation and fun, while still dealing sympathetically with the environment. “We wanted the house and garden to be timeless, to blend in but to be something special,” Celia says. “We feel it has all grown into itself in exactly the way we hoped it would.”

The Crawshaws’ property will be open to the public during the Bay of Plenty Garden and Art Festival from November 17-20, see to find out more.  


Favourite spot in the garden: The fire pit is my favourite place and the kauri grove my favourite feature. (Philip) The golf green. Obviously I practise my golf there, but I also spend time looking out to sea. This was one part of the garden we never really went to – it’s the perfect use for that space. (Celia)

All the sculptures in our garden: Are by Paul Dibble who is from Palmerston North, which is a nice connection for us as that’s where we moved from, and it was where Philip lived for 25 years. (Celia)

This garden differs from our previous garden: In Palmerston North we had a three-storey home with a formal garden that was big on buxus hedging and roses. There was no temptation to repeat that at this site as we wanted to fit in with the coastal look and landscape. (Philip)

Celia and Philip Crawshaw  

 – NZ House Garden

Next nz-house-garden story:

My favourite space: Turquoise, orange, lime – and room to relax

life style Homepage

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‘THE LAST ROOM’ – Sarasota Herald

When Mario Nievera, an internationally renowned landscape architect, comes to Sarasota in November to address a gathering of horticulture-centric people, he’ll be telling his audience how important context is to a successful garden scheme.

“The house or the structure on the property is what you begin with,” said Nievera in a recent phone interview. “The landscape and the house should be a single vision, which means that the curb appeal for a dwelling starts at street and continues to the front door and then out the back.

“I always approach the house and landscape as a unified statement. The outside is the last room of the house.”

Another point of emphasis for Nievera: trees. He advises that homeowners take time to carefully consider trees when devising a landscape scheme.

“I’m fanatical about light, and I want to manipulate light in a setting, taking the person walking through the garden from shade to dappled light to sun and back again” he said, “and trees are the way you do that. The effect can be very subtle, and you must spend time picking out the right trees for the immediate environment, but also take into consideration that a wide tree canopy means that most things won’t grow under it.

“Also, night lighting is critical for fully enjoying a garden. I work all day and almost never get to enjoy or entertain in my garden, except at night, so, of course, I want the best and most artistic lighting scheme possible.”

A monstrous banyan tree in the middle of the two-acre property of a 1927 Miami Beach estate caused Nievera problems that he relates in his book “Forever Green,” now in its third printing. The estate, the former home of Carl Fisher, who was one of the founders of Miami Beach and the man who gave Fisher Island its name, was being restored, and Nievera’s firm got the commission to reimagine the landscape. That meant incorporating the tree into a garden scheme that made it seem the tree was always meant to be where it was, right in front of the house.

Another element that Nievera often has to fold into a design is a large swimming pool.

“The pool is often a given for us,” he said. “And I view it like other elements of hardscape in a garden. Anything that is not organic or natural is hardscape – a wall, fountain, bench, pathways, driveway, terraces, outdoor sculpture, gate, lawn furniture – features like that. A landscape project can easily include 40 percent hardscape. Lately, I’m noticing a trend to uncage the swimming pool, and, truly, if the pool is a design feature in the landscape, it looks much better uncaged.

‘Also, the trend is to return to the simple rectangle shape of a swimming pool. I see this in both modern home and in traditional residences.

“Also, there is a strong trend toward modern residential architecture and design. We’re doing a lot of modern lately.”

Nievera’s own two homes are more traditional, a1920s Mediterranean revival in Palm Beach and a 1940s Cape-style in East Hampton, New York.

The 51-year-old Nievera drifted into landscape architecture, but always knew he was destined for something artistic. The grandson of a photographer and son of a graphic designer, he grew up in a Chicago suburb always entranced by color, texture, the play of light on objects, and he was always designing spaces in his head or on paper. A graduate of Purdue, Nievera founded his eponymous company in 1996, and, a year later, partnered with Keith Williams. In 2011, the firm was renamed Nievera Willians Design.

Their projects stretch from Miami to the Caribbean and Shanghai, where they collaborate with big-name interior designers, such as Bunny Williams, Peter Marino and Victoria Hagan. Jimmy Buffet is a client, and there’s a long list of famous people whose identity Nievera discretely doesn’t name, but whose estates are featured in his book of 250 color photographs and words of inspiration, as well as practical advice.

One thing he never gives a client advice about is art. “It’s too personal,” said the landscape architect. “Whatever piece of art a client selects for an outdoor space means a lot to that person, so we will always find a way to showcase it while working into the garden design.”

Here’s a tip for gardeners in Southwest Florida. “Don’t overplant,” he cautioned. “Everything in Florida grows twice as fast and twice as big as you think it will. Leave spaces between your plants and just fill in with brown mulch. In no time, the garden will fill in, but you won’t have a maintenance nightmare.”

At his Hamptons home, Nievera always includes lots of vivid flowers in his garden. “But, I just can’t bear to cut them and bring them inside for an arrangement,” he revealed. “I love looking out the windows and seeing them. I do like to arrange flowers, but I tend to harvest twigs, branches and leaves from my own landscape. When I want to add big gorgeous flowers to an arrangement, I stop at a florist on the way home from work and buy flowers.”

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Anyone can design a garden by following a few basic rules

Pathway of wooden steps in Tekoa, Israel (Photo by Joshua Siskin)


This is the moment for Chinese flame trees to show their true colors. In this case, we are talking about the colors of seed capsules, which may be red, pink, salmon, orange, or bronze, depending on the weather and the quality of light. Chinese flame trees (Koelreuteria bipinnata) are sometimes used as street or parkway trees due to their deep roots that are not known for elevating sidewalks. Depending on availability of water, they will grow anywhere from 20 to 40 feet tall. Chinese flame trees are cold hardy and should handle Antelope Valley winters without complaint.

You do not need to take a course in garden design in order to design a garden.

In fact, there is only one principle to which you need to adhere in order to achieve reasonable success in any garden design endeavor. And that principle, although it is found more typically in political or military strategy than in horticulture, can best be described as “divide and conquer” or “divide and rule” — words that were first made famous by Phillip II of Macedonia, whose son was Alexander the Great.

As a garden design principle, divide and conquer refers to breaking up a yard or other plot of ground into various parts. By doing so, you give the eye a chance to focus on discretely divided plant groupings, one by one, as opposed to getting lost in a melange of undifferentiated species that make a lot of noise, but not much of a melody, when combined haphazardly together.

While I will admit that the wild look has a certain appeal, it is more often frustrating than calming to the senses. Also, if a garden, ultimately, does not offer some sort of retreat or respite from the cacophony and confusion of the world out there, what is the purpose in having one?

Although there are no hard rules that apply to divide and conquer, it seems, generally speaking, that a small garden lends itself to a more symmetrical than asymmetrical presentation when it comes to drawing lines of separation between one section of plants and another. The larger the space, the freer and more flowing and curvaceous the lines of separation would naturally become.

Dry riverbeds flow

So-called dry riverbeds are increasingly used as a means of dividing and conquering yards and garden spaces. Tina Purwin, in front of her home in North Hills, has created a stunning and inviting dry river bed that extends nearly to the street. It is the warmest and friendliest such feature I have yet to encounter.

More often than not, dry river beds are composed of small stones or gravel of only one color, usually a dull white or grey, surrounded on both sides by ornamental grasses that tend to look weedy at times. Purwin has softened this effect in three ways.

First, the stones she has chosen are large and include some that are charcoal gray or rose colored to contrast with the white. The size of these stones is also a plus, giving the bed a solidity and stateliness that is sorely missing in gravel beds.

Second, she has selected flowering plants such as lavender, ornamental sages, and lantana that add more color to the overall effect. Not only do they flower, but they have a shapeliness about them that is also a welcome sight, as compared to the unruly if not shabby mien of those ornamental grasses.

Third, as mentioned, the bed meanders all the way to the street, a welcoming visage for passersby.

Adjacent to the riverbed at the front of her property, Purwin has surrounded a catalpa tree with decomposed granite (DG). The circle of DG echoes the roundness of the stones, in addition to serving the practical purpose of mulching the ground so as to minimize evaporative water loss under the tree.

Ground covers vs. trees

Once the DG is in place, some designers opt for placing ceramic or other artistically crafted containers upon it. Planting living ground covers in the ground under a tree is never a good idea since they take away water and nutrients from the tree and can cause real problems if allowed to grow up to the trunk or to cover woody roots that extrude above ground.

However, placing pots on top of DG, even under a tree, is not a problem. In such cases, a variety of colorful succulents are recommended since they will add vitality to the DG expanse and will only need to be watered on an occasional basis.

The most common method for dividing and conquering an extensive yard or garden space is by creation of pathways. You can make your pathways out of almost anything and spend a lot or a little in the process.

Wood chips from a tree trimmer work just fine for making informal pathways as long as you are prepared to replenish them every six to eight months. Or you can opt for simple stepping stones.

Menachem Weinberg, a rabbi who lives in Tekoa (a village in Israel’s Judean Hills 10 minutes from Jerusalem) decided to make the simplest of all pathways. He procured small planks of water-sealed wood, around 24 inches long by 8 inches wide and simply laid them on the surface of the ground. The same thing could be done with large ornamental stones, whether they are left completely above ground or partially dug into the earth but still extending above ground level, a technique that is sometimes used in constructing pathways in Japanese gardens.

You can make as many pathways as you desire, whether laid out symmetrically or winding freely about. The more pathways you create, the more planters you will have and more possibilities for experimentation you will invite.

You can devote one planter to fragrant species, another to milkweeds and other plants that attract butterflies, another to bulbs and rhizomes, another to bramble berries, bush berries, and strawberries, another to vegetables, and still another to succulents and natives. There are so many horticultural possibilities and you only get to live once, so why limit yourself?

For more information about area plants and gardens, go to Joshua Siskin’s website at Send questions and photos to

Tip of the week

This is the moment for Chinese flame trees to show their true colors. In this case, we are talking about the colors of seed capsules, which may be red, pink, salmon, orange, or bronze, depending on the weather and the quality of light. Chinese flame trees (Koelreuteria bipinnata) are sometimes used as street or parkway trees due to their deep roots that are not known for elevating sidewalks. Depending on availability of water, they will grow anywhere from 20 to 40 feet tall. Chinese flame trees are cold hardy and should handle Antelope Valley winters without complaint.

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