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The good soil

Posted on Dec 12, 2012

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As we get to enjoy our garden most at this time of year, we want to ensure it’s looking its best. We talk to renowned landscape designer and sculptor Dan Rutherford about the latest in garden design for gardeners and non-gardeners.

What are the hottest trends for gardens this year?

Growing your own food; espaliered fruit trees along the driveway, so the kids can pick an apple to take to school as they go out the gate. Grape vines hanging over the outdoor dining area, so you can pick your dessert off the tree after your meal, fresh mint and lemons for cool, refreshing summer drinks.
Having herbs just outside the kitchen window so you can reach out and pick them while you’re cooking. Nastrutiums rambling through your garden beds, so you can pick the bright orange flowers and put them in your salads, to add peppery flavour for those who nibble on them. And edible foods mingled with ornamentals and wild flowers throughout the garden, under the raised canopy of small trees.

What plants suit Christchurch soil types best?

There are many different types of plants that suit Christchurch’s soils – it’s a wonderful place to grow plants. Plant choice depends on your individual style, as well as the site and conditions of your garden setting.
A landscape designer is the best place to look for specific advice, but if you’re keen to research it yourself, the best plants to start looking at are our native plants. Plants that have evolved here are more able to thrive here. They usually need very little extra care, water or soil conditioning, because they’re already adapted to the conditions that we live in.

How can a non-gardener create something beautiful that requires minimal work?

Sometimes something simple can work very well, and require little maintenance. For example, a large deck, with attractive furniture, the shade of a pair of large, wind-resistant umbrellas fixed to it, a few large urns and a healthy hedge around the outside can look great.
If you don’t like the idea of a trimming the hedge, then plant an informal hedge of something that doesn’t need to be cut regularly, such as Mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata), hebes, or astellias.
Remember to make sure the area compliments your indoor living spaces, since you’ll probably be looking out at it each day from inside the house, and plant something tough and striking in the urns, such as miniature apple trees or hardy palms.

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