The secret garden in Tauranga that channels the Med

If Gilly and Fraser Brodie are trying to keep their green fingers under cover, then their home’s frontage is a key player in the subterfuge.

From the roadside, only two plant pots flanking the front door give any indication that green things grow at this Tauranga address. It’s in sharp contrast to what’s behind the fences of this property with its Italianate house.

Fraser and Gilly Brodie in the courtyard, a favourite place to sit or dine.

Amanda Aitken/NZ House & Garden

Fraser and Gilly Brodie in the courtyard, a favourite place to sit or dine.

“The public entry to all of our homes has invariably been on the southern side so no one has any idea what the northern aspect offers in terms of garden. There’s very much an element of surprise,” says Fraser.

The unexpected delights are pure Mediterranean: concrete ponds, one with a lion-head water feature and others with an interconnecting rill; a grapevine-clad gazebo; and an abundance of formal hedging.

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A drone’s view of Fraser and Gilly Brodie’s Tauranga garden, with Fraser on the potager level, and Gilly one level above with the stone pine (which produces pine nuts) on the right; to the right of Fraser, the garden continues along to the gazebo, while to the left the steps lead to the bottom of the rill.

Amanda Aitken/NZ House & Garden

A drone’s view of Fraser and Gilly Brodie’s Tauranga garden, with Fraser on the potager level, and Gilly one level above with the stone pine (which produces pine nuts) on the right; to the right of Fraser, the garden continues along to the gazebo, while to the left the steps lead to the bottom of the rill.

There are cypress and olive trees, red geraniums in terracotta pots atop pillars, kumquat trees with their orange bursts of colour and potager gardens laden with vegetables and herbs… perfect for adding pizzazz to pasta – Fraser loves to cook and Gilly enjoys making pesto and kasundi tomato relish.

Gilly and Fraser have called their garden Piccola Lante. It’s their adaptation of Villa Lante, a “most lovely” Italian garden of the Renaissance period.

The rill which spills down steps to the next level of the garden starts at the pond to the right; oak and liquidambar trees grow in the neighbouring reserve.

Amanda Aitken/NZ House & Garden

The rill which spills down steps to the next level of the garden starts at the pond to the right; oak and liquidambar trees grow in the neighbouring reserve.

Their specific garden idea germinated from a book dedicated to the photographic history of gardens, while the general Italian theme was one they had already played around with in a previous garden.

“We knew that an Italian theme was what would suit us best here. We wanted less of the free-flowing and more of the structured, and less of the ongoing work too,” says Gilly.

The lion-head fountain and creeper-clad garden shed are eye-catchers at this south-eastern edge of the property’s top level; the standardised trees are kumquats, pontederia grows in the pond and little lavender hedges sit either side.

Amanda Aitken/NZ House & Garden

The lion-head fountain and creeper-clad garden shed are eye-catchers at this south-eastern edge of the property’s top level; the standardised trees are kumquats, pontederia grows in the pond and little lavender hedges sit either side.

Their new suburban site offered a clean slate to work with; it abuts a public reserve with towering trees, which provided an established backdrop. Gilly has since scaled the fence to plant masses of bluebells, as well as wildflowers and swan plants to encourage birds, bees and butterflies,

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Tauranga kitchen designer wins big in prestigious awards

A Tauranga kitchen designer has received top recognition in a prestigious nationwide competition.

Chelsey Mathieson of Vekart received six awards, including a supreme recognition, in the annual 2020 National Kitchen and Bathroom Association Excellence in Design Awards.

Mathieson won the Excellence in Design Supreme Kitchen Design Award for the kitchen she designed for a Tauranga family who love to entertain.

She was also awarded the Excellence in Design Kitchen Distinction Award $60,000 to $80,000 Award, the Excellence in Design Lighting Design Award and the Excellence in Design Bay of Plenty Chapter Kitchen Recognition Award.

Mathieson also snapped up the BOP Chapter Bathroom Recognition Award.

The Excellence in Design Supreme Kitchen Manufacturer Award went to Vekart for the company’s extraordinary work on the kitchen fabrication.

The 33-year-old said she has won runner-up in a local category before but never anything “this big” and thanked owners Kevin and Tracy Murphy for their support.

“This is the first time the Bay of Plenty has ever had a supreme award so it is pretty massive.

“It’s so unexpected and quite overwhelming. It is just massive to be recognised among your peers more than anything. It is really humbling.

“You just think you’re plodding away in little old Tauranga and not realising you’re doing some pretty epic stuff that is now nationally recognised.”

The annual awards celebrate the work of the creme de la creme of kitchen and bathroom designers and manufacturers in New Zealand.

Tauranga designer Chelsey Mathieson. Photo / Supplied
Tauranga designer Chelsey Mathieson. Photo / Supplied

More than 100 designs were entered this year, and 18 designers were recognised for their work located around the country.

Mathieson’s Supreme kitchen design was described as having a calm, luxurious and relaxed vibe with natural materials and texture.

“The kitchen is for a small family that have a love of entertaining, a strong passion for interior design and a vision for the overall outcome,” she said.

A Tauranga kitchen designer has received top recognition in a prestigious nationwide competition.

“The coastal inspiration was pulled from the Tauranga environment of warmth and texture, looking out across the beach with a view of Toi Toi, grasses, wood and water.

“The clients have lived in Sydney and so a strong influence came from interiors and themes often seen in Australian homes.”

The founder of Niche Design Co in Tauranga said she also wanted to acknowledge her clients.

“It was a huge input from them. It wouldn’t have been what it is without her. It was a real joint effort… Client satisfaction is why I do what I do.”

The winning kitchen. Photo / Supplied
The winning kitchen. Photo / Supplied

Mathieson said she had been designing kitchens and bathrooms for 16 years after leaving school and began working in the family business alongside her father and brother who are both cabinet makers.

“I just started drawing kitchens and found a passion for it and became a certified kitchen designer in 2011. I’ve just always loved design and everything that goes along with it.”

To come out with an award post-Covid-19 lockdown

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