A bare Invercargill section is crying out for a planting plan

This roomy section with bare fencing and only a couple of trees is crying out for an overall plan. Carol comes to the rescue, introducing softness, colour and coherence


Dear Carol,

My home in Invercargill is a fairly plain 1940s stucco box, which we’ve given a slight lift with a path to the front gate and camellias under a window. The front and side of the house receive full sun for most of the day except for the tall fence casting a shadow in winter. We have children and animals running around (hence the fence) and it can get blustery up the side of the house. We’ve used pavers and stained black, raised garden boxes at the back. I just can’t get my head around how to work this space. We plan to put a fence up to separate front from back, and are looking to plant evergreens and keep the garden relatively maintenance-free except for the occasional haircut.

Carol’s solution


Suggested planting plan

1 Plant 1-2 metre-high hedges along boundary fences to reduce bareness of site and make the garden soft and green.

2 To make the garden prettier, plant flowering perennials in beds around sides of front garden, leaving a rectangular lawn for children to play on.

3 Edge beds with low hedges to protect flower beds from animals and kids’ ball games.

4 Give front door more prominence by widening path around porch and placing pots on either side.

Continue path along front of house to side gate.

6  Build new side fence with gate and archway overhead. Plant climbers along this fence for more flowers and foliage.

Planting options




1-2 metre hedges: Camellia sasanqua, eg ‘Setsugekka’, ‘Early Pearly’ or ‘Night Rider’; Michelia gracipes or michelia cultivars such as ‘Lemon Fragrant’ or ‘Bubbles’; Portuguese laurel (Prunus lusitanica); Lophomyrtus ‘Black Beauty’ or ‘Red Dragon’; Corokia ‘Frosted Chocolate’.


Bergenia cordifolia.


Flowering perennials Part shade: Bergenia cordifolia; Liriope muscari, eg ‘Royal Purple’; helleborus; heuchera; hosta. Sun: walking iris (Neomarica caerulea); Libertia peregrinans; Libertia formosa; Marlborough rock daisy.


Sweet box.


Low hedge for flower beds: Silver germander; sweet box (Sarcococca); Korean box (Buxus microphylla koreana); box honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida); dwarf corokia, eg ‘Little Prince’.


Wisteria floribunda.


Climbers for new fence and archway: Climbing roses, eg ‘Dublin Bay’; Virginia creeper; Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda); evergreen New Zealand clematis (Clematis paniculata) or a deciduous hybrid clematis.

Carol’s top tip

When planting wisteria, avoid positioning it near the foundations of your house as its roots can be invasive, and always choose the less vigorous Japanese wisteria, not Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis).

Note:  Most of the plants listed above are suitable for the conditions of this particular garden, which is in a colder part of the country. These plant suggestions are a guide only. Check them out at your local nursery and ask about their growth rate, height and spread, and whether they’re suitable for your garden’s conditions.

Words and plan by: Carol Bucknell. Illustration by: Shani Luckman. Photography supplied by: Getty Images.

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