Step inside an exotic garden on Waiheke Island

A plain little garden on Waiheke has been transformed into a place of enchantment with a range of subtropical plants


Stuart Jobling and his partner Barry Danby have created a delightful, densely planted subtropical garden on Waiheke Island. With its canopy of palms, flowering trees and lush-leaved subtropicals below, the exotic garden is a far cry from the rather ordinary property the couple bought back in 2011.“There was virtually no garden, just lawn,” Stuart explains. “There was one or two large willows and a kanuka – that was about it.”

“But we liked the house,” continues Barry.  “And the flat site which is rare on Waiheke.  It’s also a very sheltered location; plus it has a stream.” Other factors in the site’s favour are its good depth of topsoil, which makes planting easy, and its high water table that is a boon to gardeners on an island where water is very precious.


The first major landscaping project was the construction of the boardwalks that meander through the garden, connecting the street front car parking area and the pedestrian entrance to the existing bridge over the stream. Next the couple added a pergola over the bridge and built the oriental-inspired summerhouse, with Stuart doing most of the construction himself. He also built his art studio and laid the gravel paths using local Waiheke stone.

“We built it all ourselves with only one argument,” laughs Barry. “We also had to replace all the decks, as they were originally built by a 70-year-old and weren’t level.”

Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photos by: Helen Bankers.

Create the home of your dreams with Shop Your Home and Garden