Alfresco Magazine Article Summer 2010
"Is there such a thing as Auckland-style; a style of landscaping that has become quintessentially, unequivocally, Auckland?"
Landscape designer, Caroline Wesseling, comments:
“The landscapes of Auckland”
When I sat down to contemplate; I considered it a very good question. Do we have a particular style of landscaping or garden that we immediately associate with Auckland?
I imagine there will be as many opinions as there are varying gardens within the Greater Auckland Region.
From the coastlines of the Waitamata and Manukau harbours, to the hills of the Hunua’s to the Waitakere’s - not forgetting the iconic volcanic cones for which Auckland is so famous; and the rock that goes with them all. From free-draining volcanic soil to the soggy, wet clay soils further afield, and the varying climates from windy, salty coastal conditions to sheltered inland bush and rainforest microclimates; we have the opportunity to create and design a vast range of gardens which might collectively summarise Auckland Style, while not defining it.
When we talk of style we often consider a Theme for our garden. These themes usually suit a particular area or micro climate. For example Mediterranean or Italian themes would suit the drier coastal areas while subtropical themes like the Balinese Garden would suit a more sheltered moist area.
A style of garden that has become synonymous with Auckland is the Pacific Rim garden which incorporates both our own native plants and other plants from the Pacific Islands and countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. These gardens a usually easy care needing little maintenance to keep them looking good – due in part to the fact that in designing them we have used plants that suit the conditions. Garden themes translocated from more Northern Hemisphere gardens such as the English cottage garden or the French garden are, because of there very nature higher in maintenance.
So when we consider the climate, soil conditions and terrain of Auckland and the wide range of styles available for us to choose from, do we really have an Auckland Style or do we have an eclectic mix of gardens which reflect all of these things together with the hopes, aspirations and dreams of their owners?
After all; aren’t we as landscape designers creating gardens which reflect the personality and lifestyle of the owner in a way that will fit into the environment in which they live? Speaking from my own perspective; I strive to interpret my client’s dreams and aspirations and bring a cohesive design to them, as I believe is appropriate.
As a city, indeed as a nation, we are known for our love of the outdoors; so our gardens will naturally reflect this along with our inherent desire to have large lawns and good indoor-outdoor flow.
Is this then the Auckland Style? With outdoor barbeques, pizza ovens, fireplaces and fire-pits becoming more fashionable in recent years, alongside the swimming pool and spa pool, is it a reflected penchant for outdoor living that has become Auckland’s style?
Many of these garden features and ideas have come from far off countries, some linking back into the distant history or defining culture of other nations. Is it how we utilise them in our own Kiwi fashion, that makes them uniquely New Zealand?