Hardly common-or-garden: The award-winning Garden at The Hills

The designers of Sir Michael and Christine Lady Hill’s garden, near Arrowtown, have been honoured in this month’s 2019 New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards.

In awarding the ‘residential single dwelling’ category to Suzanne Turley Landscapes, the judges say ‘Garden at The Hills’ “is a significant benchmark in contemporary NZ residential garden design”.

Suzanne Turley and her colleague Ermanno Cattaneo were asked to design a garden that saluted the magnificence of the Southern Alps but also didn’t bow to the industrial strength of the Hills’ extensively-renovated home.

Judges like the way a series of curated garden and entertainment spaces have been sited around the house, culminating in a mix of intimate areas and others “that open up and engage with the surrounding landscape”.

It’s said to be a Kiwi take on Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf’s ‘new perennial’ movement.

The designers also worked closely with the architect, Arrowtowner Anna-Marie Chin.

In a statement, Sir Michael says “it’s an exciting garden as the mood is always changing”.

“At one moment it might be all white flowers and green, then suddenly the blue irises come out and everything else is dormant.

“When summer arrives, the colours change to yellow and golds.

“Then there are combinations of rich rust tones as we creep towards winter.

“In the wind, waves of colour are permanently moving, shimmering, falling over the stone walls like they are alive.”

Sir Michael notes that the transformation the designers have made from an area that was a deer farm is extraordinary.

“Now there is an abundance of birds – hundreds of them – and it’s so special to have your breakfast with the tui in the harakeke.”

The Hills’ garden is also one of 12 featured in Turley’s new book, Private Gardens of Aotearoa

Meanwhile, Queenstown’s council won the ‘strategic landscape planning’ category for its Queenstown town centre masterplan, at the same awards, in conjunction with LandLAB.

Judges like how it “sets out a realistic framework for growth along with the protection and enhancement of the area’s intrinsic features and characteristics”.

The strategies and design guidelines also reflect “extensive consultation and collaboration”.