An outdoor living area ideal for both entertaining and relaxing all year round is top of most homeowners’ wish lists. Inspired by a villa on a Greek island, Craig de Necker of The Friendly Plant came up with this innovative garden design that captures the mood of the Mediterranean in just 47m² and won a gold medal at the 2012 Garden World Spring Festival.
The focal point of the garden is a central elevated patio with built-in seating shaded by a pergola made of decking planks. “A raised area in a garden will provide a different perspective and adds interest,” advises Craig. As space was limited and he wanted to include both a firepit for warmth and atmosphere and a water feature for its soothing sounds, he decided to combine them. “I liked the idea of building a cantilevered water feature and thought that fire and water would work well together,” says Craig.
The water feature brings a wonderful harmony to the garden and is the first thing that catches your eye as you approach. The water bubbles up through pebbles on the cantilevered lip and gently runs over the glass mosaic tiles into the pond below. The firepit surround acts as a ‘table’ for snacks and drinks and extra seating when required. To avoid having smoke in a confined area he chose a gas firepit which also has the convenience of natural flickering flames at the touch of a button.
When it came to the planting, Craig kept to a blue and white theme choosing a few wild olives to add height and cool shade. Agapanthus, freylinia, lavender, parahebe and scabiosa bring in shades of blue and are offset by plants with white flowers, such as cuphea, dietes, Marguerite daisies and bougainvillea.
“Throughout the year there will always be something in flower and as the trees grow, they will begin to screen the patio, making it a more intimate space,” says Craig. “This garden requires very little maintenance other than watering and you could divide the agapanthus and dietes to fill up any empty areas.”
Craig believes that a garden should be experienced rather than simply looked at. “By creating a retreat like this, you’ll find you’ll spend more time out there appreciating your surroundings.”