Philip Smith  


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, 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 taught an annual series of master classes on planting design, for Victoria University's Landscape Architecture programme - a role that he will continue in 2017.

Winston Dewhirst

Winston began working full-time for O2 Landscapes at the beginning of 2015, although he has significant previous experience with O2 Landscapes as an intern in the summer of 2012/2013. He completed his masters in landscape architecture at Victoria University at the beginning of 2015, specialising in the integration of natural processes (such as dune, stream and wetland movement) with the urban environment. In 2014, Winston was awarded the NZILA/Dr Diane Menzies Award for design excellence in a final year student at Victoria University.

In late 2016, Winston was asked to undertake the planting design for the winning entry in the Brick Bay architectural folly competition, which subsequently opened in early 2017.

Winston is particularly interested in the adaptations of plants to their environments, and how this is reflected in their natural growth patterns - notably with regard to herbs, and other plants of an ephemeral nature. Having been raised on a beef farm at Kekerengu (in South Marlborough), Winston has a significant appreciation for (and interest in) practical aspects of design.

Winston is involved with all aspects of the business, from design through to construction, planting and maintenance.

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 ad 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.