For a garden to appear as an integrated landscape, its components need to be linked in some way whilst retaining the right degree of separation between them. Obviously, separate areas can be connected with path ways, but linkage can also be achieved or reinforced by repeating colours, textures, plants and/or materials.
Access to the spa pool at the back of this property is via French doors that open onto the deck in the foreground on the left. There is no real physical or visual connection between the two, and the spa pool area looks a bit (and probably is) like an add-on.
Even though the spa pool space is defined on two sides by a fence with planting, it is still relatively open.
A higher degree of enclosure for the spa pool area can be achieved with a somewhat more definite overhead canopy by adding an extra tree fern next to the spa pool. This ties in well with the existing tree ferns and gives more balance in terms of vertical elements.
The spa pool area is linked with the deck by an informal path of schist or broken concrete surrounded by pebbles or river stones.
The planting on the right can be retained and pruned. Or, to make the space wider, the plants along the boundary can be removed and replaced with e.g. a brushwood fence. This opens the area up and gives further opportunities to create an attractive setting that can be viewed from the spa pool and from indoors.
The lawn is replaced by the path, stones, larger rocks, and New Zealand native plants. Pseudopanax crassifolium (on the right) is underplanted with Elatostema rugosum (parataniwha), a herbaceous ground cover that is ideal for shady, moist conditions.
Alternatively, ferns can be used to give a sense of peacefulness and elegance. Success of fern gardens depends on making sensible choices with respect to fern species and their tolerances and habitat preferences. Not all ferns require wet shade. Many Asplenium species such as Asplenium bulbiferum (mouku, hen and chicken fern) for example, do not like water-logged or wet soil. Blechnum novae-zelandiae (=Blechnum capense: kiokio) on the other hand, will grow just about anywhere and tolerates full sun, shade, wet and dry soils. Polystichum vestitum (prickly shield fern) is equally hardy. Blechnum penna-marina is a ground covering fern that prefers drier rather than wetter conditions. When opting for ferns, the addition of large rocks is an excellent way of providing contrast for their delicate foliage.