Dunedin-based business Design and Garden Landscapes
recently received a swag of awards at Landscaping New
Zealand's Landscapes of Distinction awards. Business reporter
Sally Rae speaks to the company's founder and director Wayne
Butson about the path to success.
When Design and Garden Landscapes completed its work on
the Thom garden at Doctors Point, director Wayne Butson was
delighted with the result.
Perched on the edge of the estuary, and complementing what
was already an award-winning house, it was what he described
as a special garden.
''Sometimes you get the scope to do something that really
comes together well. You don't always have the scope to do
''I knew it was a good garden. I loved the plantings and
overall design and the location of the house. It had all the
elements,'' he said.
What Mr Butson did not expect was for his business to win the
landscape of the year national award at Landscaping New
Zealand's biennial Landscapes of Distinction awards, courtesy
of that garden.
Mr Butson, his wife Ella and their staff had gone to the
awards function in Wellington for a ''fun time'' as he was
standing down as president of Landscaping New Zealand after a
Judges had visited 26 gardens from Whangarei to Wanaka,
ranging from tropical to alpine, and the Thoms'
''naturalistic'' garden, which combined native and exotic
Design and Garden Landscape's team at Landscaping New
Zealand's recent awards in Wellington (back from left) Matt
Aberdein, Kent Pollard, Simon Greenall, Emma Taylor, Ella
Butson, Grant Wassell, (front from left) Bud Law, Wayne
Butson and Paul Gillies. Photo by Brian Sheppard.
Mr Butson was thrilled with the company's success, which
also included medals for work on two other gardens,
particularly as it was acknowledgement for the work of his
team, he said.
It was the second time the business has won the title; it
previously won in 2010 for the Kunac garden on the Taieri.
Design and Garden Landscapes, with its staff of seven, has
come a long way since the business was established by Mr and
Mrs Butson in 1991.
Originally from Pukerau, Mr Butson worked at Pukerau Nursery
during his school holidays and, after leaving school, he was
offered a job at the nursery. The nursery also won awards in
this year's Landscapes of Distinction awards.
He later studied horticulture at Lincoln and then, after
meeting his future wife, he moved to Dunedin.
After working for other businesses, Mr Butson decided he
wanted go into business himself - a big decision for a young
man in his 20s.
''I wanted to be a master of my own destiny and wanted to do
my own thing,'' he said.
With a background in horticulture, rather than building, it
was not long before he realised he needed to take on staff
with other skills.
After two years in business, he employed a builder and
builders have been part of the business since.
Combining the skills of tradespeople from the building and
construction industry, with his background in horticulture
and plants, had been ''a pretty good combination'', he said.
He started with one truck, working from home, mostly doing
small work. Then came more design work and the projects got
''Like anything, you start from small beginnings. We're still
a small business but we're growing and want to continue
''We want to move forward ... and keep doing really good
design and good construction,'' he said.
The work was predominantly residential, although they were
looking to do some more commercial work, and it was mostly
around Dunedin and the surrounding areas. They did a lot of
work in rural areas, particularly on lifestyle properties.
All the team were passionate about what they did and were
often ''throwing ideas around'', Mr Butson said.
He and landscape architect Emma Taylor, who joined the team
in November, gained inspiration from all sorts of sources.
It was about coming up with different ideas and design
elements to do the same functions, he said.
Design happened from the influence of other elements and they
were always combining and merging ideas from something else
that sparked an image or material or combination of planting
groups, he said.
Then it was about problem solving and how to build it.
''You can have the most amazing design inspiration ideas ...
if you can't build them, it's useless. It's got to be
practical,'' he said.
People were very aware of the value of investing in their
''outdoors'' and were increasingly wanting outdoor rooms.
Living in the South, with long nights and great twilights,
there was much more capacity to spend time outside and people
wanted to extend their outdoor living.
Outdoor fireplaces were popular, as was outdoor heating, and
lighting was becoming quite a big part of their business.
A lot of clients wanted their outdoor areas to look like a
magazine cover but did not necessarily want to do the work,
More people were interested in their own vegetable gardens
and most of their plans had a raised garden bed, as people
were getting more aware of having healthy food, he said.
People were also becoming more award of having
environmentally friendly products and Design and Garden
Landscapes were stocking a new product called StoneSet,
porous paving which collected rainwater that could be stored
for further use.
Typically, a garden of the size of the Thom garden would take
three months to build, but they also did work that might take
''We do all sorts of things from a nice little patio ... to
three months' hard work,'' he said.
It was a very creative business to be in and he got ''a kick
out'' of standing back at the end of a job and seeing what
had been achieved.
He had enjoyed his tenure as president of Landscaping New
Zealand and ''trying to push'' the landscaping industry
within New Zealand, especially in the South. It was about
promoting excellence, he said.
But it would also be nice to step back from that and focus
again on his own business, he said.
Mr Butson was incredibly grateful to have such a great team
''I've always said, if you can, surround yourself with people
that are better than you are ... that's what I've done,'' he
There were a lot of very good horticulturists, designers and
contractors in the South - ''people need to realise we're
punching above our weight down here'' - and they could hold
their own in the country and win awards.
A year ago, the business moved to former bus depot premises
in St Andrew St which had proved a good move, as it was in
one location and easily accessible for clients.