Landscape in Miniature

This planting design plays with the idea of creating space through emphasis of micro-contouring and planting design. Somewhat inspired by Japanese design principals. We placed an emphasis on foreground, mid-ground and background with a series of small mounds that rise and fall between gravel and stone paths. This gives the eye several resting points between the house and the boundary fence. The plant palette features several species with fine brunching structures and small leaves distorting the scale of the space. Photos: Edward Smith

Ponsonby Fire Station

When considering the design of the planters which sit In-front of the former Ponsonby Fire Station, we wanted a form that relates to architectural features of the building. The planters, large concrete rectangles with a 45 degree angle on the lower 5th are the reverse of the top story of the building. Top edges have a bevel, a detail found on concrete lentils on above windows. Concrete bollards were later installed In-front of the large glass doors. Completed while working at O2 Landscapes, planters constructed in collaboration with Tarn Studio.

Daily Bread

A early collaboration with Tarn Studio's Rob Champion now based in Sydney. Frustrated with the lack of large pots available on the market we took it upon ourselves to make our own. The designs are inspired by the bakery premises, an old bank in Auckland’s Pt Chevalier. We developed two forms, a cylinder with a rounded bottom and a large octagonal planter. Both poured with local volcanic aggregate, giving the pots a beautiful textured finish. Planting by Rob Champion.

Te Takitaki

Te Takitaki was the winning Brick Bay folly design for 2017. The design is based on a Māori palisade, a fence that fortifies the space within, in this case a garden. The structure was 8 x 20m and up to 2.5m high. The slatted timber created the perfect opportunity for a sheltered garden space within. The Architects brought me in after the competition had been won (conveniently). There was no real brief, only that the folly would be temporary, lasting only two years.This meant that the garden had to grow fast in order to get any real effect, there was also the prospect of no maintenance, so the plants had to survive on their own. The self-imposed brief was to create an ephemeral native garden, focusing on tough colonising species as well as plants that have fast life cycles. The garden grew at an extraordinary rate and had a beautiful painterly aesthetic. Photos: Sam Hartnett

Still Life

Imitation of a natural landscape is near impossible, whether it is an endemic remnant or weeds on fallow land. Images from a photo series called 'Still Life' by Fraser Chatham depict the recreation of ephemeral vegetation on fellow land and vacant lots. The series highlighted how repetition of subtle vegetative patterns form the basis of a naturalistic planting. Photos and Lighting: Fraser Chatham

In Bloom

Twice I have worked with Steve Carr on the exhibition of this sculpture ‘In Bloom’. Steve gave an open brief, leaving it up to me to interpret how to work with the sculpture. The piece which has been exhibited thought-out the country returned to Auckland for two exhibitions. The first was at the Te Uru gallery in Titirangi. The second exhibition which was directly after the previous one was at at Michael Lett Gallery on East Street off Karangahape Road. The piece was exhibited in the old bank safe below the main gallery. I was able to preserve the native plants from the previous exhibition. This time the sculpture was placed in a fabricated landscape with an ephemeral aesthetic. Ironically the plants used for this exhibition were all exotic weeds, much more prevalent than native weeds used in the previous exhibition. Photos: Sam Hartnett

Cabinet of Curiosities

The parameters of a design are often the most informing aspects a design process, the more specific requirements the more interesting the outcome. Brief: How to create a living catalogue or library for rare shrubs and builds in a narrow space? Working in collaboration with Philip Smith of O2 Landscapes, Philip and I discussed the idea of a cabinet to store living plants. The form allows for each pot to get enough light and water without taking up space, the top row have a slopped angle on the outward face to ensure light reaches the lower level. The sloped face also allows the top plants to drain into the lower planters. The weighty troughs on the bottom anchor the free-standing planters above. Photos: Edward Smith

Space Datum

Within a landscape, the composition of a single object can define a space. These pots are a study of how a space can be changed with a single object. The column pot pictured here gives a spatial legibility in several ways depending on where the pots are placed within a space, for example, they can create a focal point, a threshold, or a boundary. There is also a human scale to them, they become a human-scale-datum within the landscape, which can often have a broad and undefined scale. The pots range between 1.5 and 2.5m high, a void runs to the bottom internally allowing the plants to grow to a substantial size over time. Photos: Arch Macdonnell


Sloped sites present a unique opportunity if you have a liking for concrete and stone walls.This garden on Minnehaha in Titirangi was one of the earlier gardens I designed and built. Sloping down from the street, this like many of the properties on this cul de sac have unusually long narrow plots, the result is almost no flat land with tight boundaries. The structure of the garden is defined by a series of ha-ha, creating two usable flat areas or terraces, the top originally used as a dining area is now used as a vege garden, surrounded with native shrubs and perennials. The second a simple flat lawn for laying or playing in the sun. The walls work with the existing features of the property, zig-zagging to allow for stairs from the carport and recessing around an existing trees. Photos: Edward Smith

Euro Bar

The texture is as important as the form. The pots for the (now closed) Euro bar was a custom contract, made in collaboration with CTRL_Space, an Auckland interior design firm. The team at CTRL_Space wanted large, concrete planter with a warm aesthetic. The pots are made with a pumice aggregate from Waikato, the aggregate has no fines and a soft brown/ grey colour, so the concrete is very porous, light and has a beautiful soft texture. We created two sizes, a small and large with slightly different forms meaning the smaller pot did not simply read as a miniature of the larger. Photo: Edward Smith