Auckland Garden Designfest 2015


Come and be inspired by some of the country’s best garden designers at this year’s Auckland Garden DesignFest. This special two-day festival on November 14 and 15 will feature up to 20 private gardens across Auckland that are not normally open to the public.



Auckland Garden DesignFest garden by designer Robin Shafer










Organised by the Garden Design Society of New Zealand and the Rotary Club of Newmarket, the DesignFest gives visitors the opportunity to chat to designers in the gardens they have created. The event will raise funds for Ronald McDonald House, Garden to Table and the Rotary Club of Newmarket Charitable Trust. Daily bus tours to a selection of gardens will leave each day from Auckland’s historic home, Highwic in Newmarket.

Tickets for the Auckland Garden DesignFest go on sale at iTICKET on 01 August 2015, plus various garden retailers (see website for details) and onsite at the garden gate. Visitors can choose from a $65 all garden ticket or single garden access for $10 each.

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2015 Landscaping New Zealand Seminar Series Announced

The 2015 Seminar series Looking Forward – Opportunities and Challenges

What is the future for the NZ Landscape Industry? Providing insights into the social, economic and environment influences that will shape the NZ landscape industry in the early 21st century.

We will develop the theme as the seminars progress and advise of any changes. In a collaborative progression the first seminar may impact on what we do in the following seminars this year.

For more information and registrations please visit the seminar website:

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Date: Tuesday 18th August 
Time: 7.00am-11.00am

Landscape Training Seminars

Introducing the Landscaping New Zealand Mitre 10 Landscape Training Seminars

Welcome to the Landscaping New Zealand Mitre 10 Landscape Training Seminars. This is a new initiative aimed at providing professional development to all members of the landscape industry.

Open to anyone wanting to enhance their knowledge & professional practice

Landscape Training Seminars


The first series, titled TAMING THE REGULATORY DRAGON, will be held in Auckland over the next few months, with a vision to having seminars in other regions in the near future. This series is aimed at company owners, senior managers and designers in the Auckland region. The topics will be around the skills and knowledge required in a changing environment. The seminars will demystify the complex regulatory world and equip you to negotiate it with confidence to achieve the great gardens you and your clients want.

Preliminary market research and a presentation at the recent Landscaping New Zealand annual conference has drawn an enthusiastic response which indicates a keen need and demand for this initiative.

We have engaged with PrimaryITO and The Building Business and have excellent speakers lined up for the first series.

Seminar 1 will be held on 21st October 2014. It will cover how the Building Act works in relation to landscaping, how to adopt the performance-based approach to compliance – working on positive imaginative solutions rather than restrictive rules. How to manage you obligations under the Building Act, the Building Code and the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act will be discussed with case studies.

Seminar 2 on 18th November will tackle District Plans and the Auckland Unitary Plan as well as the Resource Management Act. A third seminar is planned for February 2015 with dates to be confirmed.

All the seminars will be held at the Home Ideas Centre, 165 The Strand Parnell at 7 am. Visit our website for more information.

We intend to build on the success of the first series of seminars with more planned for the future to be held in other main centres throughout New Zealand. The potential range of topics is endless and we’ll aim to offer seminar series and practical workshops for all levels of the landscaping industry from senior practitioners to newly qualified or beginning landscapers wishing to hone their skills in a supportive friendly environment.

Click here for more information or to register. 


3. Complex layering in established coastal forest

Ecological design models for New Zealand urban areas

This is the third article of a series of short pieces for in which I  look at current trends and ideas in garden design.

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I think there is a  need to move ‘native’ design in NZ beyond the twin poles of revegetation. On the one hand and garden design with natives on the other to make it truly ecologically inspired. I have been thinking about how to do this and, during my ‘sabbatical’ at University of Sheffield, I saw just how effective it can be to model creative ecological design on wild (ie spontaneous) communities. This means looking at and recording the make-up of wild plant communities that thrive and provide an attractive character and that we would want to imitate in an urban area. This can be restricted to just natives but not essentially. It is quite possible to fulfill some of the ecological roles with well chosen exotics.

To do ecological design in urban areas we need to look for vegetation communities that are adapted to similar climate, (testing) microclimate and (often difficult) ground conditions to those found in the urban design site. What makes it more interesting and, in fact, more achievable is when those conditions are extreme – drylands, wetlands, nutrient poor lands, eg gumlands etc.

1. Gumland ferns and sedges and shrubs

Gumland ferns and sedges and shrubs – this characteristic vegetation could be the basis of a design assembly for very poor soils.

We are now quite familiar with the wetland communities found in urban stormwater management systems and how these can be used to create diverse wetland communities. Much urban landscape (especially public landscape) exists close to hard materials – concrete, asphalt, brick, etc.- Rather than remove all this and replace with topsoil at great expense can we use the pioneer vegetation of locations like say the Rangitoto lava beds. In the unique and distinctive Rangitoto vegetation can we see inspiration for city landscape in the northern parts of the country.

2. Rangitoto colonising vegetation

On Rangitoto colonising vegetation grows in the most extreme conditions of drought, exposure and even salt water.

Ecological design is about designing with plant communities rather than plant species. The basic unit of design is the community or ecosystem (the community plus its physical environment). It is the way we put these together that can create the diversity and intensity of vegetation and habitat that we need and enjoy in urban areas. So, if we can find a successful combination of plants that grow together on say the exposed lava fields of Rangitoto they could well be effective in say urban plantings where there is little soil and irregular moisture – perhaps a green roof or perched on walls, or as a temporary vegetation on an urban brownfield site where buildings and structures have been demolished and the land is awaiting reuse.

Complex layering in established coastal forest

Complex layering in more mature coastal forest on Rangitoto creates attractive and intense detail.

Head shot Nick RobinsonNick Robinson, landscape architecture + garden design

Nick has twenty years’ plus experience of landscape architecture professional practice in New Zealand and Britain. Before setting up his own practice he worked on significant landscape projects across the North of England as a Landscape Architect for Arnold Weddle, for Rotherham Metropolitan Council, and as Design Principal for ECUS, the Environmental Consultancy of the University of Sheffield. This work included a number of award winning landscapes of industry, new roads, campuses, urban regeneration and parks. Nick has worked for over 10 years in New Zealand, gaining broad experience of landscape design in the varied natural and cultural landscapes of the South Pacific.

In addition to professional practice, Nick has taught landscape architecture at universities in the UK (Sheffield and Gloucestershire), USA (Cal Poly) and New Zealand (Lincoln and UNITEC) and has a range of publications to his credit including the Planting Design Handbook (now in its revised second edition) and journal articles. He has recently completed a sabbatical period working and studying at the Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield, UK, with a focus on current thinking on ecological approaches to urban design and innovations in planting design for biodiversity, and working with international experts on urban ecology, green roofs and green walls.

Sneak preview - Garden by Sue McLean

Leading garden designers to showcase work in November Festival

Up to 25 gardens designed by some of the country’s top designers will be showcased in the two-day Auckland Garden Design Fest on November 16 and 17, 2013.

The two-yearly Fest, which began in 2011 and was inspired by Melbourne’s renowned Rotary Garden DesignFest, is organised by Garden Design Society of NZ and the Rotary Club of Newmarket.

Sneak Preview garden by Gudrun Fischer, Remuera

Sneak Preview garden by Gudrun Fischer, Remuera

It is a chance for gardeners, landscapers, designers and the public to visit a range of beautifully designed gardens across Auckland and speak to their designers while also helping to raise funds for the children’s charities Ronald McDonald House, KidsCan and Garden to Table.

“The festival is a unique opportunity to visit gardens that are not usually open to the public and see just what a difference good garden design and installation can make to a property,” says Society Chairperson, Rose Thodey. “With such a wide range of gardens, in terms of both size and type, you are bound to come away with some great ideas and fresh inspiration.”

The Fest includes daily bus tours for limited numbers which begin and finish at Auckland’s historic home, Highwic, in Newmarket and will visit a carefully selected range of gardens catering for a wide range of interests.

Sneak preview - Garden by Sue McLean

Sneak preview – Garden by Sue McLean

The tours include lunch and refreshments as well as a tour of Highwic’s heritage garden which is cared for by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. “As in Melbourne, these popular tours are expected to fill up quickly, so it will pay to book your seat well in advance.”

Festival tickets go on sale at iTICKET and selected retail outlets from August 5 and can be also be bought at the gardens on the tour days. Visitors can buy $50 All Garden Tickets or single garden tickets for $5 each.

For updates about the Auckland Garden Design Fest visit or visit for information about the Melbourne event.