An Asian-inspired sub-tropical garden in Herne Bay

Landscape design by Donna Stanish, Seed Landscapes.

Upon purchasing this Herne Bay home, the homeowners quickly realised that a redevelopment of their entire outdoor space – consisting of three courtyard garden areas and the two side paths – would be necessary.

As a result, the homeowners now have their own private sub-tropical oasis with an array of ‘Asian-fusion’ inspired plantings and features that are a nod to their own heritage and culture.

This home is now the perfect spot for a family of four (with the addition of two children since the redevelopment) to spend time in, play and relax in their backyard.  

Seed Landscapes Herne Bay

The Brief

Essentially, there was a clean slate for Seed Landscapes to work with on this project. The property was built as a developer’s ‘spec site’ with a quick sale in mind. The house itself was of contemporary style, with the outdoor spaces lacking character. The original plants chosen weren’t suited to the climate and were unlikely to survive for long.

The homeowners were specific in wanting a garden that had modern in look and feel – creating a better connection to the dwelling. With the homeowners being of Asian heritage, they also wanted their culture to be present in their outdoor space as much as possible.  

Seed Landscapes Herne Bay

Advanced specimens of NZ native Totara (Podocarpus ‘Matapouri Blue’) are trimmed to form Dr Seuss-like powdery blue clouds

Seed Landscapes Herne Bay

The Transformation

Hand picked, large specimen plants, like Japanese maples and fragrant, robust species, are used across all of the areas. Features like special lighting and corten steel were added to match the colours and textures of the plants, and add pops of interest for hosting gatherings at night. The garden shows careful planning and attention to detail.

In the front garden and entrance to the property, you’ll find the blue totara trees (Podocarpus totara ‘Matapouri Blue’) trimmed into playful cloud shapes. Careful arrangement ensures the six trees, each with 36 ball-shaped clusters, are evenly spaced. These trees offer shade and visual appeal, and add a whimsical touch reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, that complements the garden’s modern and Asian-inspired design style.

Buxus ‘Green gem’ topiaries guide visitors down the pathway towards the central courtyard. These have been strategically planted in this part of the property to complement the Syzygium (Lilly pilly) hedging on the opposite side. Gardenia veitchii adds a soft texture to the environment and a fragrant scent to enjoy.

The cluster palms (chamaedorea costaricana) and Liriope muscari planted throughout the property were revatilised with organic sprays and fertilisers, allowing them to thrive in their new environment.

The central courtyard is now the primary entertaining space, featuring a barbecue and pool – ideal for summer gatherings with family and friends. The Japanese maples offer diverse shape and colouring throughout the seasons. Even when bare, they remain captivating.

The rear garden is designed for privacy and family time. Star jasmine and gardenia are prominent – their fragrant scents wafting throughout the property, even indoors. Bamboo provides screening and adds a serene atmosphere as it rustles in the breeze.

A herb garden is perfect for experimenting with and cooking Asian cuisine – a past time for the children to enjoy and create a connection to their heritage. The vibrant red-stemmed Acer palmatum ‘Senkaki’ tree and the large-leafed Ligularia reniformis are a repetition of styles of planting from the other spaces and contribute to the gardens continued allure.

Seed Landscapes Herne Bay
Seed Landscapes Herne Bay
Rain lily wrap around the raised lawn and a bronze pot with Buxus ‘Green gem’ clipped into clouds.
Chamaedorea costaricana (cluster palms) lining the footpath.
Seed Landscapes Herne Bay

The Result

A detail oriented and playful approach to landscape design has been combined to craft an environment where this family can host loved ones or unwind in solitude.

From a garden that once lacked character and appropriate planting has become a space that has a unique personality. Careful and strategic placement of the diverse array of plantings ensures year-round visual appeal and resilience that will thrive in the humid Auckland climate.

Seed Landscapes Herne Bay
Seed Landscapes Herne Bay

Key Plant List

  • Acer palmatum ‘Tamukeyama’ (Japanese maple)
  • Acer palmatum ‘Senkaki’ (Japanese maple)
  • Chamaedorea costaricana (Cluster palm)
  • Totara (Podocarpus ‘Matapouri Blue’)
  • Buxus ‘Green gem’ – Cloud trimmed topiary balls of differing sizes line the driveway and side path.
  • Syzygium (Lilly pilly) – hedging
  • Ligularia reniformis (Tractor seats)
  • Liriope muscari ‘Evergreen Giant’
  • Zephyranthes candida (Rain lily)
  • Irises
  • Gardenia veitchii
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star jasmine)
  • Bamboo
Seed Landscapes Herne Bay
Japanese maple – Acer palmatum ‘Tamukeyama’
Seed Landscapes Herne Bay
Gardenia veitchii
Seed Landscapes Herne Bay
Ligularia reniformis (Tractor seats) spilling over the edge of the retaining wall.
Seed Landscapes Herne Bay
Japanese maple leaves (Acer palmatum ‘Tamukeyama’)
Landscape design by Seed Landscapes

Photography by Helen Bankers