Deadly Ponies Store — Jared Lockhart Design

In Ponsonby, Auckland you’ll find the flagship boutique of internationally renowned leather accessories brand, Deadly Ponies. When the brand took over the space, the back of the building was unloved and occupied by a dilapidated lean-to. Owners, Liam Bowden and Steven Boyd, called in landscape designer Jared Lockhart to help.

Podocarpus gracilior (‘Fern Pine’) topiaries with Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Brother' (Siberian Iris)

Podocarpus gracilior (‘Fern Pine’) topiaries with Iris sibirica ‘Caesar’s Brother’ (Siberian Iris)


Jared’s brief was to make the area beautiful and wild, with a central area to use for seating and events. Jared very quickly formed a vision: Naturalistic and rambling. The space was a flagship shop garden and needed to look presentable throughout the year, so a strong evergreen structure was required, along with a blend of hard and soft landscaping elements that worked for the space and the Auckland climate.



The site was cleared, including an old lean-to extension. Focus then turned to the ‘hard landscaping’ (paving, paths and walls) which was crucial to give the space some structure. These elements were intended to ensure the garden maintained substance, which is particularly important when using soft seasonal perennial planting en masse, and also so that it looked good through winter as well as summer.

Once the building was removed and the concrete slab broken up, work began on forming up the concrete bench seats which were cast in situ. These bench seats were somewhat experimental for Jared. It was the intention to create an imperfect finish – rough with lots of texture, yet still elegant.

As with most of Jared’s projects, he couldn’t help but become very involved. “I spent some time finding the right pebble aggregate to use in the concrete which led me to a builder’s yard out in West Auckland. I spent the following Saturday morning with the builders, where my role was to spread the pebble through the concrete as it was being hand poured. My Picasso moment. It was then a nervous wait for the concrete to set before the ply formwork was removed to reveal the finished look.” The result was worth the wait – the seats reveal a meandering rough marble texture, with contrasting sharp lines.


Iris sibirica ‘Caesar’s Brother’ (Siberian Iris)

Next, the paving. A brick herringbone style was adopted. There was an extensive search for the right bricks that proved worthwhile. The bricks were laid on edge which means the thinner long side is the top which gives a more refined and elegant pattern. “The bricks were end of line stock and we only had enough for the main central courtyard. Adapting as we went, we decided to use an exposed aggregate concrete for the main paths and use the remaining bricks as a border course edge to the concrete. This was important to ensure consistency of materials throughout the site. It was also kinder on the budget.”

Right: Heuchera (‘coral bells’)


Attention then turned to the soft landscaping. First and most importantly was the soil preparation. As the site had previously been a building, all that remained was sticky Auckland clay. This had to be excavated and drainage installed before new garden mix soil was barrowed in.

“We prioritised large topiary pieces for an instant effect. With a restricted budget, there wasn’t much left in the budget for a landscape contractor to do the heavy lifting and soil preparation. Liam and Steve took this in their stride and promptly began making calls and firing off emails. The following weekend we had a team of at least 30 friends, colleagues and family members (even an actor from Shortland Street) pitching in to move 15 cubic metres of soil into various plant beds. It was an incredible day.”

Next came the plants, which started with the trees, hedging and topiary – with the most important being the topiary. The team hand-selected the various shapes and sizes of topiary from a wholesale topiary nursery in South Auckland. All the hedging and topiary is Podocarpus gracilior (‘Fern Pine’), a bushy evergreen plant which suits the humid Auckland climate and trims well to form a compact hedge. Jared reflects on his memory of the day: “We spent a day positioning and then re-positioning the topiary pieces within the beds which was crucial to ensure the overall composition read well.”

Deep reddish-purple tree with heart-shaped leaves: Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'. Underplanted with Gaura lindheimeri (‘whirling butterflies’).

Deep reddish-purple tree with heart-shaped leaves: Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’. Underplanted with Gaura lindheimeri (‘whirling butterflies’).

For the finale, the perennial planting went in. Most of this was supplied by Terry and Lindsey Hatch from Joy Plants in Pukekohe. The focus was on dark red flowering plants, to reference the red brick paving, mixed through a mass of white flowering Gaura lindheimeri (‘whirling butterflies’). Jared says, “Using perennial flowers in Auckland is very tricky due to the humidity and has taken time, trials, plant death and conversations with colleagues to understand what works and what doesn’t. It’s nothing like the temperate climate of the UK or our South Island, where plants thrive thanks to the cooler winter months.”


Right: Salvia confertiflora


The finished result has been a huge success. There is a unique marriage of hard and soft landscaping features which gives this space a beautiful balance. Working within geographic and size limitations, the new design has given a usable space which looks good all year round. Jared likes to check in and visit the garden often to see how it develops: “At the time it was very experimental for me, particularly in terms of plant selection. Now it’s a constant reference point for future projects.”

This mixed garden includes a Japanese maple: Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood', a podocarpus gracilior (‘Fern Pine’) topiary and Japanese anemone.

This mixed garden includes a Japanese maple: Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, a podocarpus gracilior (‘Fern Pine’) topiary and Japanese anemone.

Gaura lindheimeri (‘whirling butterflies’).

Jared Lockhart is a landscape designer based in Auckland, New Zealand. As a philosophy, he focusses on creating gardens to compliment their natural surroundings. In 2011 Jared established his own landscape design practice, after spending time designing in London, the wider UK, Continental Europe and the USA.

Jared, together with his wife Lisa, owns Garden Objects — an online shop that brings together garden items from around the world. Each piece is chosen for its functionality in the garden or its relationship with nature.