“This was one garden where I instantly knew what to do,” says landscape designer Jared Lockhart. “It just came together quickly.”
The courtyard is tiny – about 30 square metres all told – and sits at the back of a renovated villa on a tiny inner-city site in Freemans Bay, Tāmaki Makaurau, with an extension by architect John Irving.
The small site complicated the job. During the build, the clients had to construct a five-metre-tall concrete retaining wall, holding up the bank behind and carving out space for a small outdoor area. When Lockhart first visited, he admired the wall’s rough-cast concrete surface – but the client had other ideas. “He didn’t want to see it – it was a reminder of how much it cost – so part of the brief was to cover it up.”
Irving designed an elegant, minimal pitched-roof extension with a wall of glass looking into the courtyard. The garden is constantly visible from the house, and the house is constantly visible from the garden – they borrow long views from each other. “The idea was for it to be elegant and quite seasonal,” says Lockhart.
The landscape designer compared notes with interior architect Rufus Knight, and together they developed an approach that focussed on beautiful materials and craftsmanship. “The materials had to work quite hard,” says Lockhart. “Each had to have substance. Everything is there for a reason.”
The courtyard is bounded by two honed concrete bench seats at the rear, sitting slightly offset from each other. The courtyard is paved with grey hexagonal terracotta tiles, with a natural variation of colour that provides texture.
The planting is equally spare. Five varieties are repeated masterfully and in various ways: a frame of evergreen totara hedging, filled by deciduous trees that turn a rich shade of red in autumn. There’s also gardenia for its scent. And that concrete wall? It has been largely covered in Virginia creeper, creating the layered, seasonal oasis the client was so keen on.
Jared Lockhart Design