Enchanted wilderness | A natural wonderland in Browns Bay, Auckland

Neville Design Studio

Enchanted wilderness | A natural wonderland in Browns Bay, Auckland

Landscape architecture by Richard Neville, Neville Design Studio.

In Browns Bay, Auckland, a garden has been thoughtfully designed with two central priorities: embracing the natural world and creating a haven for the two young children who reside there.

Richard Neville of Neville Design Studio collaborated with a young family to bring their vision of an ‘enchanted wilderness’ to life, crafting a space where people and nature coexist, grow, and learn together.

Neville Design Studio

The Brief

The space to work with was a large site primarily consisting of lawn. The intent of the brief was to transform it into a garden abundant in diverse plantings and to provide a habitat for various creatures to reside.

The homeowners wanted the garden to reflect their values, lifestyle, and relationship with nature. The objective was to create a garden with overlapping boundaries, embracing nature and plants, and served as a sanctuary for their family life.

Neville Design Studio
Neville Design Studio

During the transformation…


The Transformation

The sloping lawn covered site was transformed into an ecologically rich garden, featuring a number of spaces to discover and explore. It became an ideal environment for both children and adults to play and learn.

The list of plants used in this garden is as diverse as it is extensive. From native shrubs, ferns and grasses, to specimen trees, herbs and perennial flowers – the interwoven plant styles keeps this garden interesting year round.

An ecosystem has emerged that will continue to grow and evolve, showcasing new life as the climate and seasons change.

Neville Design Studio
Neville Design Studio
Neville Design Studio

The Result

Landscape architect, Richard Neville, reflects on this garden transformation –  

“We are nature and nature is us. Somewhere along the line it seems we have lost sight of this truth. I’m interested in gardens that nurture a cultural shift in the understanding of our interconnected relationship with nature.

Our garden for a young family in Browns Bay, Auckland, aims to do just that. A site of almost all lawn has been transformed into an ecologically diverse garden that invites nature close to the home. Interestingly, while we often design gardens for ourselves, it is in fact birds, bees and other living organisms that spend more time in our gardens than we do.”

The garden embraces nature, and the living things within it. It is also a space that has been created for children and adults alike to get lost exploring and learning from the abundant life that is present here.

The residing children, Marcus and Ada, love playing in and charging through the garden, along with embracing slower moments to witness new life and changes through the seasons.

This garden unfolds from one space to another, connecting architecture, garden and the ‘wilderness beyond.’ A plant palette of diversity shifts in ebbs and flows, responding to the site specific conditions of various zones. 

Neville Design Studio
Neville Design Studio

Key Plant List


Vitex lucens (puriri)

Metrosideros excelsa ‘Maori Princess’ (pōhutukawa)

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’

Magnolia stellataPrunus ’Billington’ (plum)


Achillea ptarmica ‘The Pearl’

Aster novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Potschke’

Gaura lindheimeri

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’

Helenium ‘Waldstrand Copperchinacea


Hebe ‘Snowcap’

Salvia ‘Black Knight’

Solidago canadensis

Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstonne’

Hydrangea ‘Bridal Bouquet’

Siberian Iris ‘Over in Gloryland’


Anemanthele lessoniana

Carex solandri

Chionochloa flavicans

NZ native plants

Coprosma ‘Hawera’

Fuchsia procumbens

Hebe townsonii

Muehlenbeckia astonii

Pittosporum cornifolium

Liberties grandiflora

Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Sabre’

Sophora microphylla (Kōwhai)

Agathas australis’kauri’

Other key plants

Euphorbia charachias subsp. Wulfenii

Francoa ramosa


Neville Design Studio

Landscape architecture by Neville Design Studio
Photography by Scott Sinton
Build by Feature Landscapes
Garden care by Erin McVeigh

Landscape architect Richard Neville believes in meaningful design that connects us with each other and our environment. His work illustrates a commitment to thoughtfully crafted landscapes, that respond to the land, site and people. Richard’s practice is in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (Auckland, New Zealand).