MEET TANIA who has a beautiful park-like garden with stunning harbour views in Titirangi, Auckland.
One of the most striking things about this home is the setting. We love the tree-lined driveway that leads to the property and the feeling of seclusion that you get from the surrounding bush. It’s amazing that the city is so close and yet it feels like an oasis here. We can’t see any neighbours, which is a real luxury in Auckland. After 16 years here John and I do tend to take the outlook for granted. But we appreciate it all over again when people visit for the first time and they are blown away by the views, or we go away on holiday and come back and go wow!
Redesigning and re-landscaping the large garden was at the top of our to-do list when we moved in. John and I tend to like the same thing when it comes to design so it was easy to come up with a plan. We got Nigel Cameron Landscapes to create the new outdoor living area, including the irregular over-sized concrete pavers that were poured onsite. The semi-formal paved area features a 3m concrete square for the outdoor dining table. The garden in the foreground features irises and the two trees to the right are Brazilian fern trees.
Front of House
I like the way the front of the house is designed so it does not reveal the amazing view beyond the front door. There are very few windows on this side of the house and the grey of the concrete blocks is a great backdrop for the dense greenery. From the top left are a yucca, pygmy date palms, mondo grass, Coprosma acerosa, climbing star jasmine and cordyline.
The garden outside John’s art studio features, from top left, a Dracena (Dragon Tree), the Poor Knights Lily, fan aloe and clivia. One side of the house has large windows that allow the outside to always be present while you’re indoors. I love the way there is green flora everywhere I look. I appreciate the garden’s beauty but it would not look nearly as good as it does if I was left in charge. Luckily John is a talented gardener. He enjoys keeping everything ship shape.
When we moved in John and I were a bit daunted by the scale of the 4200sqm property. The cottage-style garden was filled with rhododendrons, camellias, roses and cherry trees, which required a lot of maintenance. We decided to simplify it by creating a more contemporary subtropical garden that was easier to take care of. We’ve achieved that to some degree, but every garden requires maintenance. We’ve repeated plants in different parts of the property to give the garden consistency and harmony. The palms, magnolia, yucca, Dragon Tree, cycads, and strelitzia (Bird of Paradise) pictured here on the upper level are all featured elsewhere.
The garden is on a sloping site so we’ve had to put in pathways and steps to link the different levels. These steps, built from macrocarpa sleepers, lead down to a flat area of lawn below the house. We used to play cricket down there when our boys were younger. The Ponytail Palm, to the right of the top of the stairs, is one of several different palm trees in the garden. The palms help create the subtropical look we wanted. The stunning Lepidozamia cycad to the right of the path is a focal point.
This bromeliad alcantarea imperialis rubra is without a doubt one of the most impressive sights in our garden. You get a great view of it from our patio table. We deliberately minimised the garden’s colour palette because we like lots of dense greenery with pops of warm tones. The hedge behind the bromeliad is griselinia.
There are some lovely views that lead the eye from the treetops to the Manukau Harbour such as this one framed by the kauri tree on the top left and the kanuka and phoenix palm on the right. Our neighbour’s well-established macrocarpa tree adds to the greenery and I love the flowering magnolia tree. Some grasses and cycads next to the path add texture to the garden.
The Old Road
It’s great being able to walk to Davies Bay at the bottom of our garden. I often take Raffi, our springer spaniel/border collie cross, down there for some fresh sea air. It’s easy to get down to the water’s edge because this track carved out of the native bush in the 1940s leads the way. The track, framed by Giant Bird of Paradise, was the driveway to the original house built on this property. The house is still there but you get to it from another driveway these days.
Another bromeliad to the left of the path leading to the garden on the top level adds some deep red tones. The Dragon Trees to the right of the steps add a dramatic sculptural touch. John and I enjoy spending quiet time on this seat, which has a lovely view. The queen palm directly behind the seat is one of the tallest palms in the garden. The clivia, planted near the house, add a splash of vibrant orange when they are flowering, as does the strelitzia (Bird of Paradise) to the right of the seat.
The garden makeover involved leveling and repaving the patio and improving its connection to the house. Originally it was a brick patio on two or three levels. We knew that getting a digger in to level it would be costly but about seven years ago we decided to bite the bullet and do it. That was absolutely the right thing to do. The garden provides plenty of space for rest and relaxation. One of the most delightful aspects of the property is that I can always find a spot for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, while enjoying the view.