September 22, 2023


Gets In Done On Time

‘Every spare minute’ is invested in this Waiheke paradise back garden she made

Robyn Toomath’s idea of paradise is staying able to immerse herself in the light rhythms of nature on a day-to-day foundation. Following retiring from a demanding job in the health-related career a handful of several years in the past, she now spends every spare minute in her Waiheke yard.

“When I was doing the job, I was off the residence for 12 hrs a working day and normally in the weekends,” she clarifies. “Now I am incredibly significantly a consistent gardener. I’m out listed here just about every working day. I really like gardening. I locate it very therapeutic.”

She also has a appreciable talent for garden design and style. From the elegant entry courtyard on the shaded south side of dwelling to the wonderfully planted terraces on the steep northern slopes, the garden is comprehensive of clever planting combinations, texture, scent and desire. A lot of of the crops are succulents, their varieties and colors as a lot of an attraction for this gardener as their drought tolerance.

The tall, graceful stems of yucca underplanted with crassula, aeonium, sedum, bromeliads and the blue-leaved Senecio serpens signal the entrance to the main garden. A stately ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) draws the eye onwards.


The tall, swish stems of yucca underplanted with crassula, aeonium, sedum, bromeliads and the blue-leaved Senecio serpens signal the entrance to the key backyard. A stately ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) draws the eye onwards.

Meandering, generously proportioned gravel paths and shallow techniques make sure entry is simple even with the steep gradient. Courtyards and decks on both side of the two-storey property provide versatile out of doors dwelling areas that can be made use of no subject what the wind way or sunlight degrees.

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“The residence was concluded in 2013,” she suggests. “At that stage, the yard was just a steep clay bank with pretty much no planting apart from some olive trees. A single of the source consent prerequisites was that retaining partitions could not be bigger than 1.5m which is why there are so numerous terraces. Just after the retaining walls and paths were being created, I started to plant. 1 of the first factors I did was go to a professional nursery in Auckland and fill the car up with succulents.”

Gardening expert Lynda Hallinan recommends golden and bronze perennials that really don’t just tolerate drought, they thrive in the dry and bloom via late summer months to autumn.

The general idea for the yard displays Toomath’s really like for mid-century Californian Contemporary and Japanese layouts.

Waiheke gravel covers the floor with concrete stepping stones curving to the timber porch and a display of concrete breeze blocks forming a striking focal issue on the significantly boundary. “I seriously preferred concrete breeze blocks but they are tricky to uncover. By some miracle I observed a concrete company that had 30. I advised them I’d acquire the whole lot.”

Planting is an eclectic blend that in some way is effective, many thanks to Toomath’s eye for color, form and texture.

Phlomis russeliana with a supporting cast that includes more Senecio serpens, lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina), Senecio cineraria and Agave attenuata.


Phlomis russeliana with a supporting forged that consists of far more Senecio serpens, lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina), Senecio cineraria and Agave attenuata.

Succulents, natives, bromeliads and shade fans these kinds of as oak leaf hydrangea and hellebores expand happily in the beds all-around the edges of the courtyard.

To the appropriate as you enter the courtyard, your eye promptly moves to a sleek tree grevillea, its blooms a vibrant pinky pink, buying up the warm hues of the gravel.

Close to its foundation is an assortment of small-expanding succulents (agave, kalanchoe, aeonium, crassula), crucifix orchids and bromeliads, their leaves continuing the heat colour palette.

Statice provides easy colour and maintenance.


Statice delivers simple colour and servicing.

A counterpoint to the mainly casual planting is a reduced hedge of clipped rosemary growing on leading of the retaining wall whilst a significant Monstera deliciosa planted by the entry porch even further reinforces the 50s retro vibe.

Toomath has made the courtyard as a taster for what’s to arrive, with quite a few of the vegetation and gravel surfaces recurring in the most important yard beneath. This is accessed through a steep route previous the creeping fig-clad h2o tank, down to the lower floor of the property which connects to the outdoors via a substantial deck.

Right here, the backyard garden opens out into one of the amazing vistas for which the island is renowned, its terraced slopes overlooking tree-clad hills and over and above to the waters of the Hauraki Gulf with Rakino Island, the Noises and Coromandel Peninsula on the horizon.

In Robyn Toomath's Waiheke garden: view from lower deck looking north to Rakino Island.


In Robyn Toomath’s Waiheke backyard: look at from reduce deck searching north to Rakino Island.

It is a check out to make you stare and the planting listed here frames that view wonderfully. Beside the deck are two enormous yuccas, their tall sculptural trunks producing a visible backlink involving the two-storey household and the backyard garden beneath.

At the foundation of the yucca sits an exquisite ceramic vessel developed by area award-profitable ceramicist Penny Ericson.

Gravel paves the ground right here way too albeit a finer a lot more walkable grade (Waikato Fleck) than the Waiheke gravel in the courtyard. Sleepers set into the gravel help users navigate the downward slope, and these are continued in techniques and retained edges to the curving network of paths and measures. To soften the challenging surfaces, Toomath has planted silver dichondra and the indigenous Scleranthus biflorus at the edges of some paths.

A stunning vessel by local ceramicist Penny Ericson.


A beautiful vessel by community ceramicist Penny Ericson.

Planting on this facet of the backyard carries on the eclectic theme of the courtyard with an extraordinary assortment of succulents planted in huge swathes amidst gardenia, irisene, hibiscus, scabiosa and a variety of flowering annuals, to title just a number of.

Fragrance performs an essential job also. Toomath has various roses in the backyard and trims star jasmine into low informal hedges together with some of the paths. The divinely perfumed Murraya paniculata is clipped into a brilliant inexperienced rectangle along with a further path and the scented white-flowering shrub Brunfelsia undulata ‘White Caps’ fills one more border.

Down the bottom of the garden, she recently planted a brugmansia with peach-colored bouquets that emit an additional attractive perfume. “I observed a person yrs in the past in (painter and sculptor) Gretchen Albrecht’s yard and expended a long time wanting for a plant. And now I’m delighted to have 1.”

Even though she enjoys a selection of vegetation, Toomath is a specific supporter of flowering vegetation with very long stems and exotically formed bouquets this kind of as the yellow Phlomis russeliana which grows in entrance of the deck.

This prompted her to explain the backyard as Dr Seuss-impressed when it was part of the 2022 Waiheke Yard Festival. She factors out a sea holly (Eryngos), offered to her by a close friend, that is about to bloom: “I am so thrilled. I just like its purple blue stems as properly as its remarkable bouquets,” she enthuses.

“I’ve also identified I enjoy crops with purple or red foliage like bloodleaf (Iresine herbstii) and Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’, as a counterpoint to environmentally friendly foliage. A further color I have a tendency to seek out is blue.”

The warm colours of a pink-flowering grevillea, Aeonium 'Zwartkop' and Sedum adolphi complement the Waiheke gravel in the courtyard of Robyn Toomath's garden.


The heat colors of a pink-flowering grevillea, Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ and Sedum adolphi complement the Waiheke gravel in the courtyard of Robyn Toomath’s backyard garden.

Quite a few big sweeps of the blue-grey groundcover succulent Senecio serpens bear witness to this obsession. Bloodleaf is also planted in quite a few spots as Robyn always buys at least a few vegetation when trialling a new addition to the backyard garden. “I plant just about every one in a distinctive place to see how very well they do in distinct conditions.”

A excellent-sized vegetable back garden was on the menu from the start out for this vegetarian. When the back garden was to start with founded, Robyn experienced elevated beds crafted to a peak that will make maintenance and harvesting easy. “I reside off the back garden,” she remarks. “At the minute I’m harvesting cavolo nero, a variety of lettuces (cos does very best), courgettes, rocket, rhubarb, beetroot, fennel, leeks and a tomato which is long gone berserk. I also grow a lot of herbs amongst my brassicas due to the fact I heard on the radio that confuses the insects. I really don’t use any insecticides or chemical compounds in my back garden.”

Fruit is also abundant listed here and in the orchard together with. Two apple trees are espaliered towards a person of the retaining partitions, a grape full of ripening bunches kinds a display screen for 1 of the paths, and citrus, feijoa and a number of of the first olive trees flourish on the steep north-dealing with slope along with the terraces.

“The grape is 18-months-previous and I only planted it to kind a safety fence for the route,” she admits. “The point that I get grapes off it as very well is a reward. Previous year the kererū (wood pigeon) would lean into the netting to consume the grapes. It was like a kererū get together with numerous of them at a time sitting down on the fence.”

Originally, garden surrounded the vege gardens but the kikuyu held creeping into the beds. Landscaper Nick City who also developed the decks, retaining partitions and courtyard, dug it out and created much more gravel paths about the raised vege beds.

Raised vegetables beds were built to a convenient height for harvesting and maintenance.


Lifted greens beds ended up crafted to a effortless top for harvesting and maintenance.

Toomath is restoring the native bush on the decreased portion of her house and developing a monitor as a result of it to connect to a highway at the base. “I’m element of a doing the job group which meets to plant, weed and trap in purchase to restore indigenous flora and fauna to the valley,” she says.

She’s also not too long ago taken up weaving and is organizing a 10-working day hike alongside an historical pilgrimage path in Japan. No question she’ll return entire of extra landscaping ideas for her lovely garden.