"I don't divide architecture, landscape and gardening; to me they are one."
I caught the gardening bug when I was living in a rented garden flat in London and pregnant with my first child - the nesting urge hit hard. With no ability to change the rental flat I resorted to transforming the tiny courtyard, taking my first steps into the world of gardening with tulip bulbs that would flower when the baby was due and sweetpea seeds that would mark the emergence of spring. From then on gardening was intertwined with raising the children - they took their first steps next to rows of seedlings and potted cuttings, learnt to avoid the thorns during my foray into raising roses from seed, and then adopted my marrows during the exuberant 'year of the courgette' as pets (tip: dont plant nine courgette plants unless you have a farm shop....).
"The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before."
It has been a huge learning curve - identifying what plant likes certain types of soils, which one hates the Auckland humidity, identifying different types of bug or disease and trying to learn an organic way of assisting the plants defences. The great thing about gardening is that there is always something that surprises and delights, that confounds and puzzles, you may be the hands that shape where the plants are positioned, but ultimately nature determines whether it will stay like that or not. My garden is always a work in progress.
"Every time I imagine a garden in an architectural setting, it turns into a magical place. I think of gardens I have seen, that I believe I have seen, that I long to see, surrounded by simple walls, columns, arcades or the facades of buildings - sheltered places of great intimacy where I want to stay for a long time."
The connection between architecture and gardening is a strong one - together they can link spaces between inside and out - gardens offer cooling shade, seasonal variation, outlook to the architecture, the architecture in turn offers framework, structure, and frames the garden views. Both are human endeavours, shaping environments and nature for our habitation, but offer different experiences. When in combination those experiences are all the richer. It's part of our design philosophy that we think about this connection when we design architecture. Gardens dont need to be complicated or perfect, the joy is in the growth, the variation and the intuitive connection with nature that we benefit from.
Photos below are from the beautiful Ayrlies Garden - Whitford. This goes to show what a lifetime of gardening can do (and access to some heavy earthmoving machinery). This weekend (18th - 19th February 2017) is the Mercy Hospice Heroic Garden tour in Auckland with some lovely gardens open to wander through and gather ideas. If you are keen to find out more check out Heroic Gardens for more details.