Philip Smith

Philip Smith is the lead designer and proprietor of O2 Landscapes. His particular field of interest is in integrating natives with flowering perennials, to produce a different kind of 'native' garden; one in which the effect of native plants is amplified by association with selected exotic species which bring a greater range of flower colour, form and scent to the garden.

He has a special interest in the extended use of a greater range of native plants, particularly threatened plants. He is also especially interested in the preservation of the widest possible range of gardenworthy perennials for use in gardens (they are disappearing from gardens due to fashion), with a particular focus on trialling suitable perennials for Auckland's difficult, warm northern climate.

Philip studied horticulture and landscape design at Massey University, Palmerston North, between 1995 and 1998. He worked in the landscape industry in Auckland following graduation, and in 2001 travelled to Europe. In Europe, Philip spent six months in Germany, where he worked for three months at Europe's largest export plant nursery, Bruns, in Bad Zwischenahn (a small town in the northwest of Germany). From this base, it was possible to view the work of several twentieth-century German and Dutch garden designers, whose work focused on more naturalistic styles of planting (notably, the integration of grasses and perennials to create gardens with considerable seasonal distinction). This included visiting the gardens of the Dutch designers Mien Ruys and Piet Oudolf, and the garden of the great German plantsman, Karl Foerster (all of whom are strong influences).

Following working in Germany, he spent three months in the Spanish city of Granada, where it was possible to study the remarkable Moorish gardens of the Alhambra palace complex at length. Upon returning in February 2002, Philip established O2 Landscapes, working in a style based on plantsmanship and locally-inspired design.

After working on the 2006 Chelsea Flower Show project, Philip travelled to Italy, to spend a week studying the work of the Venetian architect/architectural professor, Carlo Scarpa. Scarpa is an important influence upon the design ethos of O2 Landscapes, as he believed in combining modernism and forward thinking with tradition. More information and photos on Scarpa can be found within the 'Essays' section of the website.

In addition to the design and installation of gardens and public plantings, Philip has written a wide range of articles for a number of publications; including 'The Garden' (the journal of the Royal Horticultural Society), Urbis Landscapes and Landscape Architecture NZ magazine - for whom Philip was the regular contributor of the planting guide for 8 years, up to 2015 (including a series of regional planting guides for New Zealand over the last three years of that time). In 2015, Potton & Burton Publishing released 'Vernacular'; a book that Philip collaborated on with David Straight to bring more attention to New Zealand's everyday landscape culture. Since 2010, Philip has lectured in planting design as part of Victoria University's Landscape Architecture programme.

Rob Champion

Rob started working with O2 Landscapes in late 2015, having worked previously for a large landscape firm in a role involving plant selection and design, management and on-site co-ordination.

Prior to this, Rob pursued his interest in ecology, entomology and evolutionary theory, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Biology) at University of Auckland in 2012. Spending time in Sydney during his summer breaks, he volunteered in behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology laboratories at Macquarie University and UNSW respectively, also completing one semester of his degree over there.

After completing his degree, he worked in a number of interesting positions, including as an entomology research assistant at the University of Auckland, as an invertebrate scientist in the highlands of Central America, and as an urban flower farmer in Los Angeles. Prior to his scientific and landscape-related pursuits, he engaged in design studies at AUT. Rob has always had a passion for natural landscapes and plants, and on his return from overseas the distinctive character and subtle beauty of our native flora became increasingly apparent to him.

Rob is interested in the confluence of landscape design, sustainable horticulture, conservation and plant ecology - particularly what these fields have to offer each other. He believes in interdisciplinary work as a source of new ideas, and natural systems as reference material for human communities.

Cole Cochran

Cole started working with O2 Landscapes in the middle of 2017, following completion of a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from Elam School of Fine Arts (University of Auckland) in 2016. In addition to his background in fine arts, Cole has always held an interest in plants, gardens and nature.

Growing up in the Waitakeres (where playing in the forest was a normal feature of Cole's childhood) had a significant influence on Cole's interest in ecological networks and associations. Later this was to inform his approach to his work whilst at Elam. Cole's interest in the natural and cultural history of places (applied with a critical eye) sits well with the role that context occupies in our design approach.

Cole is especially interested in the adaptations that plants evolve in response to specific conditions, as in the case of plants growing in aquatic environments or the epiphytic communities that perch amidst the canopies of our forest giants in our native forests. In addition to being involved with all aspects of our work at O2 Landscapes, Cole has taken on responsibility for the development of a phenology database for the provision of information to assist in the design process.