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This project deftly addresses every aspect of a diverse garden, including how the areas impact views from within the home – more than one sense is celebrated

Designed by Donna Stanish, Seed Landscapes

From the landscape designer:

The homeowners had been living in their beautifully detailed architectural home set on a clifftop site in Birkenhead Point for two years. 

There was a retained square of fenced lawn for their beloved dogs and a stunning view over water to the harbour bridge and city beyond. 

There had been attempts to plant and provide areas for enjoyment, but they ultimately were not fit for purpose or did not suit the home and surrounding landscape. 

A cohesive plan was required.

Native bush flanked the property with mature Pohutukawa reaching over to the rooftop courtyard. 

The house steps down a slope, creating a journey, with the opportunity for pocket gardens and feature planting viewed from the interior on the two levels.


The owner is a bonsai enthusiast, having lived in Japan, where these gardens are much admired. 

The materials used on the house, with the crafted contemporary simplicity, are strongly influenced by Japanese architecture. 

This, along with the native bush and the elevated coastal position became the inspiration for the landscape design.

The existing rectangular lawn and the wilder naturalistic landscape beyond were at odds with each other. 

The decision was made to extend out into the natural area with a light touch and bring the natural plantings closer to the house, unifying the garden.

We created a curved lawn with deep garden beds set within the fence line and selected native planting to envelop the blade fence, disguising and blending it into the wider landscape.

Feature corten circular raised planters house cloud clipped Podocarpus gracilior, like giant versions of bonsai, underplanted with simple black mondo to provide a focus within the garden nearest the house.

The Karaka tree in the near distance with its bluestone paver path threading through the coastal planting has become a favourite spot to relax in, sheltered under the canopy. 

With the view back towards the house, it provides another experience set deep within the garden.

The front entrance needed further definition. 

Being set close to the road and neighbouring driveways, diffused privacy was required. 

A black metal screen with a graphic cut-out resembling the stems of bamboo, also present in the planting design, was created to fit the area. 

A huge matte black pot containing a mature cloud clipped topiary further defines the area. 

Shadows cast by the screen and tree are a standout feature. 

The owners say they are delighted every time they approach their home. These two artful strong elements have transformed the area.

In the side courtyards, clumping Himalayan blue stemmed bamboo, mondo and large stone pavers in an internal courtyard have the bamboo tops viewed right in the second storey of the lounge, dining, and kitchen with its soaring ceilings. 

Light and airy with beautiful softly moving leaves, the tall bamboo will also help to diffuse the harsh sun that was an issue in the afternoon.

Large matte black bowls were set on plinths leading you along the boardwalk towards the back garden. 

This area is viewed from the adjacent bedrooms and from the cantilevered balcony above. 

Fragrant dendrobium orchid Kingianum were planted in the bowls, their white flowers along with the Jasmine clothing a nearby wall perfume the summer nights.

A custom steel bonsai wall and shelves were designed and built to house the owners’ collection. 

Lighting has the design dance at night.

Credit list

Landscape contractor
Peter Halligan Craftsman Gardener
Paving
Lava stone Bluestone, from Stone Direct
Special features
Aluminium powder-coated screen at front door & Bonsai display wall – custom designed elements by Donna Stanish Seed Landscapes; Corten planters & corten deck low wall, from Craftsman Gardener; oversize pots, from Willory Agencies
House designer
Hamish Monk Architecture
Perimeter fencing
Aluminium fin style, by Balustrading Concepts
Decking
Vitex, by Hermpac
Prominent planting species
Podocarpus gracilior cloud clips, from Tim Bell Topiary; Jungle Flora Bamboo

Designed by: Donna Stanish, Seed Landscapes

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Donna Stanish, Seed Landscapes

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