Thinking outside the square, landscape designer Jo Hamilton pleasantly surprised Ponsonby villa owners Cindy Beaudin and ...
Thinking outside the square, landscape designer Jo Hamilton pleasantly surprised Ponsonby villa owners Cindy Beaudin and Mike Engle with a garden design revolving around two circular lawns.

As with many Kiwi backyards, the garden of Cindy Beaudin and Mike Engle has evolved with the growth of their children.

Twenty years ago, when the couple bought their charming villa on a deep 559sqm rectangle of land in Auckland’s central suburb of Ponsonby, they were childless.

When son Zac and then daughter Ginevee came into the picture, the garden naturally became their playground – as home to a trampoline and as a grassy stadium for rugby and cricket tests, and fairy adventures. They would swing or slay dragons from the fruit-laden plum tree.

But, as they grew, needs changed. “Zac is now 19 and six foot five [1.96m]. When his rugby mates come over, it’s like they suck all the oxygen out of the air!” Cindy says with a laugh.

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Cindy loves the nooks of 'mystery and fun' around the garden, including this shaded area below the deck.
Cindy loves the nooks of ‘mystery and fun’ around the garden, including this shaded area below the deck.

Cindy and Mike agreed that a little more space, with a degree of separation, would suit them all. So when they embarked on the home renovations that were 17 years in the planning, they decided not to tack on to the back of the villa, but to build a teenagers’ retreat in the far corner of the garden.

Following council guidelines, the design of the studio with bathroom had to be sensitive to the Victorian heritage of the house. “It’s only three years old, but visitors say it looks as though it’s been there forever,” Mike says.

The couple then turned to landscape designer Jo Hamilton to create a new garden linking the two living areas and, finally, create a place for the adults to enjoy – a challenge Jo relished.

A river of Waikato Gold pebbles, laid by Neven Millar of Total Landscape Creations, runs past the vegetable and herb beds.
A river of Waikato Gold pebbles, laid by Neven Millar of Total Landscape Creations, runs past the vegetable and herb beds.

“I wanted to create a ‘journey’ through the garden from the house to the sleepout,” Jo says. “It turned out to be one of my happier gardens. I’m a bit of a romantic, and I’d quite like to have a garden like this myself.”

Cindy and Mike are equally smitten. They’ve achieved their dream of a green, eco-friendly urban sanctuary that not only provides tranquillity, joy and a connection to nature, but is able to feed a growing family of four.

“Our original brief to Jo was to keep the garden as natural as possible,” explains Cindy, a former publisher who grew up in northern Canada…