Everything from the carpet to the roof will be alive in Natural Habitats’ Living Lounge garden featuring at the 2014 Ellerslie International Flower Show.Designers Mark Read, Shane Wiles and Pete De Jager from the Auckland-based landscaping company, have combined the natural elements of grass, timber, water and fire to create a 1970s inspired outdoor garden room.

“We wanted to do something that would be interesting to the public but that would also showcase the architectural expertise of Natural Habitats,” says lead designer Mark Read.

“It’s a transferable garden, something people can look at it and think ‘I could do that at my place’.”

Retro meets modern in the exhibit’s green wall with 4000 plants, predominantly Carex grasses and tussocks, woven into a textured fabric to give a shagpile carpet appearance.

A pergola structure with stacked timber collar pillars supports a green beam, laced with ivy. This borders a living roof, designed in a lattice fashion.

Central to the garden is the sunken lounge area – the focal point of the trio’s modernist creation. This relaxed social space is decorated with planting, incorporating retrospective design elements to create a unique, three dimensional feel.

“The retro look is quite a popular trend in architecture at the moment so it’s about evoking those funky, unusual features in a cutting-edge horticultural way,” says Mark.

A key feature of the exhibit is the “fire on water” lava pot, located in the centre of the lounge area. Lighting is used to create a glowing ember effect in the base of the pot, which is filled with water. Gas is then used to produce a flame at the top.

A circular hole in the roof space directly above the pot creates a playful, visual connection between the pot and pergola.

“The crucible pot is another way of combining natural elements that are almost opposite, like fire and water,” says Mark. “If this was in a residential garden it might be used as a fire pit.”

With more than 35 Landscape New Zealand awards, Mark’s interest lies in creating innovative, creative designs with a strong environmental and sustainable focus.

“I grew up on orchards, with a strong interest in botany and art and these themes continue to influence the landscapes I design.”

Natural Habitats’ Living Lounge is one of 16 major gardens in Ellerslie 2014, twice as many as last year and more than ever before.