Sue & Colin McLean

Sue & Colin McLean


Creation NZ Ltd

Designers & Project Managers
18 Wallace St, Herne Bay, Auckland 1011


09 376 5955


Sue - 021 344 249 or Colin - 021 757 196



Garden 1: Hauraki Rd, Takapuna

The clients’ top priority here was to transform a ‘clinker brick and tile’ into a sleek and chic new home. They also wanted to ‘strip the backyard jumble and create a gorgeous, enticing courtyard environment in a contemporary style’.

Sue and Colin’s brief was to create privacy from close, overlooking neighbours, provide flowers and fragrance, fruit and vegetables, a relaxing entertaining area, a spot for a cup of tea, incorporate a loved Indian door, a functional hidden service area, enduring ground surfaces and easy care.

The 140m2 garden is just a year old. An instant 3m high hedge provides privacy while flowers, fragrance, fruit and vegetables burst from raised timber planters and a collection of the now ubiquitous concrete drainage inspection cylinders. A sharply defined geometry of deck, pebbles and tiling provides the definition for places to pause and sit, or gather on the stunning arrangement of outdoor furniture. This faces a black screen smothered with star jasmine and featuring the Indian door. A flowering cherry hovers above and lavender, gardenias, roses and violets offer their joys below. The service area disappears behind. 

Garden lighting transforms this lush, yet open and sunny space by day, into a sophisticated, intimate, entertainment space by night. 

Garden 2: Lynch St, Pt Chevalier 

The design brief was to follow on from the ethos which underpinned the design of the house: two black boatsheds linked by a concrete gallery, sitting on a full section running directly down to the water’s edge of the upper Waitemata Harbour, with immediate views of Meola Reef receding to the Harbour Bridge. The clients wanted to create a relaxed beachside feeling, with the property unfenced, open to the street, and also to develop the potential of the waterfront location.

Three distinctive elements informed the garden design: the flat grassed front yard, the gently sloping ground flanking the two connected ‘boatsheds’, and the steep seaward part of the property, dominated by two large oaks and invasive bamboo, which was a complete visual and physical barrier. The owners love native trees and plants, wanting to encourage more birds, and needing a small area for herbs, some citrus and enough feijoas to eat. Rosie the Lab had to be allowed to roam. They wanted the large bank which tumbles to the sea to be cleared of bamboo and weed species and replanted with the ability to gain access to the water to carry kayaks. A lounging deck from which to commune with the ever-changing tidal aspect was also a priority.

The appropriate response was to sympathetically enhance the architecture of the house and the unspoilt beauty of the site. Design elements are a timber boardwalk and series of steps hugging the transition between the two boatsheds and incorporating a productive planter, citrus and feijoas. A gently curving series of sleeper steps negotiates the slope to a large lounging deck. From roadside to water, the planting features titoki, kowhai, coprosmas, ribbonwoods, flax, astelias, drifts of native grasses and ferns, mass plantings of three muehlenbeckia ground covers and highlights the delicate tracery of our divaricating plants. What has been created is a peaceful, simple and natural garden, gathering the property from the sides and flowing down to the water.

A sculpture installation by Anton Forde was commissioned for the site after completion of the garden. Visitors will be able to experience the haunting beauty of this site specific series of figures and learn the story behind Anton’s inspiration.


Sue & Colin McLean have been designing and installing gardens for a wide range of city and rural clients since 1988. Their business is a small collaborative practice dedicated to offering an attentive and personal commitment to every project, be it an inner city courtyard, expansive residential garden or rural lifestyle development. “We bring vision, passion, and sensitivity to the process of achieving our clients’ dreams and needs.

From swimming pools and water features, stone, decorative tiling and sculpture to the final flourish of lawns and distinctive, lush planting, we guarantee a seamless result. We have a depth of experience in designing, managing consents and project managing the building of all the elements which combine to ensure that each garden is a unique sanctuary. Whether they imitate nature on exposed sites, soothe the spirit in city courtyards or stimulate the senses in large family properties, our gardens are loved and enduring.”

Projects have been featured on television and regularly appear in garden and architectural design publications including the recently published ‘Contemporary Gardens of New Zealand’. Creation NZ is an accredited member of Landscaping NZ and has won Gold at the Ellerslie International Flower Show where Sue has subsequently judged. She is a past chairperson of the Garden Design Society of NZ and a current committee member.

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