French chic

This small formal landscape is reminiscent of traditional inner-city gardens in Paris
Story by: Colleen Hawkes Photography by: Luke Kerr
View of formal garden designed by Michael Mansvelt botanical garden, evergreen, flower, garden, grass, hedge, landscape, landscaping, leaf, outdoor structure, plant, shrub, tree, walkway, yard, green
View of formal garden designed by Michael Mansvelt of Plantation New Plymouth. A parterre garden, small orchard, fountain and boxus hedging all add the the formal theme.

Tucked away behind the wrought-iron railings in the heart of Paris are many small, but perfectly formed gardens. With their narrow pathways, hedging and clipped topiary, these gardens are tranquil havens in the middle of the bustling city.

This garden, by landscape designer Michael Mansvelt, borrows from these traditional Parisian gardens. The sense of history associated with such landscapes is appropriate the house was one of the first workers' cottages to be built in New Plymouth during the 1880s.

"It was important that the design of the garden would not compromise the house, which has been sensitively restored in keeping with its original era," says Mansvelt. "The owners have a classic taste and a love of topiary, so it seemed fitting to introduce a formal landscape to what is, essentially, a courtyard garden."

A new strip of garden outside the wrought iron fence at the front of the property provides the first formal note. A clipped barberry hedge softens the transition between the footpath and front yard.


View of formal garden designed by Michael Mansvelt water, gray, black
View of formal garden designed by Michael Mansvelt of Plantation New Plymouth. A parterre garden, small orchard, fountain and boxus hedging all add the the formal theme.

Tall trees and shrubs around the perimeter of the garden include a row of ornamental Manchurian pear trees and a number of existing camellia bushes. The camellias have been clipped to highlight their trunks and flat canopies.

"The camellias have been there for many years, but they make a great impact against the old brick wall," says Mansvelt. "Ivy also provides an attractive green backdrop in summer."

Most of the plants were chosen for their year-round foliage, however.

"We wanted plants that don't have an off period," says Mansvelt. "They had to look good all year round, preferably with glossy green foliage and they also needed to be fragrant if possible."

View of formal garden designed by Michael Mansvelt bird bath, garden, grass, landscaping, outdoor structure, walkway, water, water feature, yard, green, gray
View of formal garden designed by Michael Mansvelt of Plantation New Plymouth. A parterre garden, small orchard, fountain and boxus hedging all add the the formal theme.

For the main front garden, English box hedging borders gardens of clipped star jasmine, evergreen Gardenia Florida' and standardised kumquats.

"These citrus trees are well suited to small gardens," says the designer. "They are fragrant, evergreen and have attractive flowers and fruit that stays on the tree for longer than other citrus plants."

Similar hedging and kumquat trees border a flagstone path at the rear of the house. Mansvelt says he went for a more opulent look on this side, creating a pond and two stucco wall features at either end of the pathway. The pond and walls have been treated to provide an aged look.

Inset pebbles crisscross the path, creating a pattern that is echoed by the box hedging in the gardens on either side. Topiaried plants in urns are limited to key pieces that punctuate the landscape.

Mar 02, 2010

Credit list

Plant supply
Plantation
Garden furniture
Harvey Norman
Water feature
Designed by Plantation; painted in Porters Limewash
Paving
Concrete flagstones with pebble inlay
Lighting
Hunza
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