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Garden Style Glossary

A successful garden style is one where all parts of the space; the plants, architecture; furniture, surrounding landscape and humanity make an integrated unit that is a pleasure to be part of. These are our style categories, unashamedly full of our prejudices and opinions. As we learn and observe more, and evolve our ideas, the styles and our choice of plants in them may also evolve. We hope that this tool will help you achieve the garden that you want and deserve.


This garden uses simplicity to create a formal manicured pattern. The garden is seen as an outside room, an extension of the house. It will use precise lines, contrasts of colour to link to the architecture of the house and other parts of the garden. It will have a strong central axis. The plants will be manipulated by layers, hedging, topiary, creating living sculptures. It needs detailed planting and timely but minimal maintenance. Using a limited range of reliable plants allows this simplicity.


This garden will be filled with favourite treasures. It will exist for the love of individual plants rather than the look of the garden as a whole. The nurturer of this garden will have a passionate fervour for the interesting and unusual plant, for the difficult and rarely seen. The gardener’s knowledge of the microclimates within the garden is important so to give the more ‘difficult to grow’ plants the best environment. Knowledge of the plant’s endemic cultivation is very important to this success. There will be a lot to learn in this garden, from the history and source of the plants to how their survival was won.


This garden is all about feeding nature’s creatures, or at least the ones we do not consider pests. Plants are selected for their ability to provide food for birds, bees, native insects and skinks, plus a few for the humans. This can be integrated into another style to provide a more pleasing design. Consideration can also be given to select plants to accommodate these creatures, for example suitable trees to nest in, and ground covers for shelter. The avoidance of the tidy and over maintained garden is helpful also.


This is a calm private oasis of a garden. For those that need a sanctuary from the overwhelming stimulation of our world. Where you can relax and enjoy the sensuous delight of the small events in the garden; fragrance, plants with flowers that hold the moonlight, the sound of water, breezes in the cool shade. Enjoy the peace and quiet contemplation. It will always have a wall, fence or hedge to isolate it and create a quiet island or courtyard. Restraint is everything, with order, harmony and decorum as the guiding principles behind the scheme.


This garden will be inflexible and strong. It will have a minimalist, clean, modern feel. There will be contrasts of shapes and textures between plant and plant, and between plant and hard landscaping. Plants with simple architectural shapes set apart in an open and uncluttered landscape. It requires good ground preparation to eliminate weeds, then if good plant choices are made it should be easy to maintain. Often inorganic mulches are used which help to set off the striking and often bizarre plants.


This place has an exuberance of luxuriant beauty and mystery, it is sumptuous, tropical, bold and flowery. This garden will be lush and full; deep shadows and bright vibrant colours. There will be a predominance of evergreen plants with relatively large bold foliage and flowers. It may require regular applications of compost, water and plant food depending on your site, to maintain the lush growth.


This style uses our native plants to recreate some wild New Zealand in your garden. Whether that is the airy, dappled atmosphere of our beech forests and the many divaricating plants; the strong iconic shapes of our flaxes and cabbage trees; or the lush Pacific feel of the broad leaved plants. There are many ways of bringing back memories of your favourite untouched places by selecting and integrating New Zealand plants that suit your site. Restore what once was and let nature take the lead.


This style is for those that can live with spontaneity and revel in a rich profusion of colour, flowers, foliage and seasonal change. It is not for the faint hearted nor for those that seek predictability and order in their lives. This garden needs a structure of specimen trees, and maybe also rooms, often created with hedges. It will have a wide selection of plants merged together with much thought about colour and form. It requires a sturdy wheelbarrow and spade, as its careful observant gardener discovers a better place to move that treasured plant, or to divide a flourishing perennial. This garden has nothing to do with the reality of the outside world; it is about fantasy, romance and the pure pleasure of the art of gardening.


The view onto this garden is an interesting tapestry of patterns, textures, colour and movement, blended to provide beauty without dominance. It can be a small intimate space or a grand vista, the common theme being healthy plants with adequate space to develop their form and blend harmoniously with their neighbours. (True success will be when people can do the same.)


This is the woodland garden, dense, shadowy, and park-like. The strong, solid trunks of trees lead to a sky of layered branches. There is birdsong, hum of insects and the breeze through the leaves to provide the music of this garden. Carefully planned and planted but informally managed. There are three layers of plants; the canopy of deciduous and evergreen trees, the woody understory of shade loving shrubs and small trees, then the herbaceous ground plantings and bulbs. It is informal with a strong structural basis and a balance between the wooded and open areas of lawn.


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Copyright Vibrant Earth 2015o9 | Design by Chocolate Dog | Build by KingGrapes | Database by Hortbase

Copyright Vibrant Earth 2012 | Design by Chocolate Dog | Build by KingGrapes | Database by Hortbase