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Stark Garden

A beautiful country garden is revisited by the designer, Michele Hickman


GAP Photos/Steven Wooster Design: Michele Hickman Owners: Judy and Roger Stark

Feature No:   271 

Qty of Images:    45 


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On my return to Christchurch after a decade overseas, it has been a privilege to be able to visit some of the gardens I designed years ago. No more so than in the case of the Avonhead garden of Judy and Roger Stark, who bought their property in 1970. The property has the advantage of a "borrowed landscape" of very large trees in neighbouring sections, once part of the original Avonhead Homestead; it is thought that the presiding elms may have been planted by early Christchurch politician and founder of 'The Press', John Fitzgerald, after whom one of the city's four avenues is named. The stables to the Avonhead homestead were sited near here, and only recently Roger dug up an old branding iron.

The late architect Jonty Rout designed an extension to the Stark's home in 2001. It was set at an angle greater than 90 degrees in order to maximise garden space on the section, which widens towards the rear boundary. Jonty's extension, which covered a large area of the original back garden, threw up two challenges for me as a garden designer. First, how to maximise the sense of depth of this garden in order to balance the height of the surrounding trees. And then, how to reconcile the geometry of his pergola so that the shape of the lawn did not compromise meeting the first challenge.



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