An Amazing Garden of Rooms - in just three years - 119 St Kilda Road
We were late arriving from our previous garden, but Glenda and Steve Saunders were so welcoming. They have designed and built an extremely impressive garden in less than 4 years. Their concept is of little rooms and outdoor areas, light in the winter and shady in the summer.
Glenda’s vision is amazing, and she designed the garden herself. The “resident gorilla” made it happen. He’s built a pergola and tended a beautiful lawn. As an aside, the quality of the lawns in many of the Festival gardens has really struck me.
Because of the limited time we had left ourselves, we immediately wandered around the garden. It was staggering to think their hedges had grown in less than 3 years. The various hedges include Griselinia, bay leaf and a low growing Ceanothus hedge that turns bright blue.
In the first “room” we saw Wisteria on the pergola, a row of Robinia Mop Top and an avocado that is less than 3 years old with a fruit on it. This poor avocado has been shifted three times (but remains very healthy)! We were into frosty nights at the time of our visit and Glenda had employed umbrellas to help protect and establish vulnerable plants.
Another room, that is easily visible from inside the house, is their tropical garden. This featured hibiscus in flower, a beautiful Alstromeria, a water feature, a Vireya that had provided stunning yellows and, and two puka which had grown from cuttings from their late friend Larry’s garden. Amazingly two frogs had made their home in the trees. Originally, they had planned a pond for this area, but the resource consent process deterred them.
Another quiet area features an outdoor fire. Yet another is the edible corner with very healthy, well-fed citrus and an especially tidy raised vegetable garden. Glenda said they regard this as an activity area, and they wanted it near the house rather than stuck out of sight. They use natural sprays where they can in the garden.
Glenda is very pleased to be growing some irises that had originated from her grandmother’s garden. In this area is an impressive artwork. They originally placed it in a purpose-designed spot surrounded almost by the Ceanothus hedge. The artist, Wayne Parsonson from Paradise Design Sculputures, visited the garden and instructed that the sculpture could not go there. He identified the ideal location for it.
Then we saw the secret garden, an amazing fern garden on the south side of the house, and not accessible from the rest of the garden. It made very good use of what, for many of us, would be a difficult area. Going through the fernery we come to a rose garden room. This should be worth seeing in November.
Steve told us about their almost “green” approach. He has a 25,000-litre tank installed under the front lawn that is fed from rainwater captured on the roof. This fills about 18 times a year and supplies water to the toilets, washing machine and outside areas. Drinking water and the shower are fed from town supply.
I couldn’t help noticing the 12 solar panels on the roof. During the day these can run the drier, dishwasher or washing machine. Steve estimates the system generates 35% of their annual power consumption. The hot water cylinder acts as a battery. It is allowed to heat to 69o and then it drops back to the standard 50o.
Glenda’s secret to such healthy plants is to feed them well. She has applied lots of sheep pellets. The other thing she does is to chatter to her plants and in one area she has an outdoor heater that she turns on.
This is a very impressive garden and shows just what can be done in such a short time, even when you are so busy in your professional life.