Jo Hamilton

Jo Hamilton


Joanna Hamilton Landscape Design


09 550 7212


021 271 3070


Garden: Kelmarna Ave, Herne Bay

In 2013 the owners of this much loved 1912 transitional villa asked architect Kyle Porter to make some internal changes to the house as well as design a self-contained studio in the garden. Their brief emphasised a wish for adherence to sustainable principles, and the desire for the new building to sit comfortably and sympathetically alongside the house.

The most exciting part of the garden brief was to link the two; to create a pleasant journey from house to sleep out ‘through’ the garden. It was to be naturalistic both in style and philosophy – using natural systems, companion planting and species attractive to bird life.

The journey starts at the elevated back deck, a good place to pause and look out to the garden before stepping down to the pebble path, which wends through the garden – two circular ‘mirror’ lawns on one side and raised vegetable gardens and espaliered fruit trees on the other. At this point you are immersed in the garden and it is a sensory experience. In high summer the productive vegetable garden overflows, beans on tripods and tall swaying flower heads planted specifically to bring bees and other pollinators, give height and exuberance.

Naturalistic lines are hard to achieve in a small garden so some precision was applied in the creation of two circular lawns edged in old brick, one level and one slightly tilted to work with the natural contour of the site. 

The journey ends at the studio which sits easily in the garden as though it’s been there for decades. Nearby is a wooden garden shed with a three-bin timber composting system and potting bench tucked in behind. The existing puriri, titoki and cabbage trees help give a sense of maturity and scale despite the garden’s youth.

Entering the formally laid out front garden which echoes the symmetry of the house facade, there is no hint of the very different back garden beyond. The owners love their garden and are deeply involved with the maintenance and ongoing seasonal tasks of both productive and ornamental garden areas. 


Joanna has been designing gardens in the greater Auckland area for 15 years, since graduating from Unitec with a Diploma in Landscape Design. Her projects include large and small city gardens, courtyard and apartment gardens, country and coastal properties. She loves the problem solving aspect of her work and tends to 'live and breathe' each project she is working on to create a garden that is special and unique for its owners. Listening to her clients carefully is an important part of achieving a happy outcome. In her mind, when designing, are the garden’s more subtle aspects, such as light and shade, scale and proportion, which can work together to delight and lift the spirit. She also appreciates the importance of sound site analysis and workable solutions. Joanna strives to design gardens that read well on installation, but will increase in beauty and atmosphere as they mature. She loves working with both soft and hard landscaping elements, developing the interplay between the two. Joanna's gardens have featured in Home and New Zealand Gardener magazines and in the NZ Herald. Her work has largely been in urban and greater Auckland but she has also designed rural and semi-rural gardens in Northland, Waikato and Canterbury.

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