Latest News

A Flying Start - House & Garden February 2019

News "The landscape designer who owns this seaside garden couldn't wait to plan and plant....especially those flowers"

This is Michelle's test pot for coastal planting in the Western Bay of Plenty - described as Italian Coastal. Michelle has discovered some exotic species that thrive on dry coastal areas with sea breezes.

06 Oct 19 -

Outdoor Styles-Classic style

News Michelle featured in House & Garden's 2018 Edition of "Outdoor Living"
The classic style of garden is described as:"Timeless Formal and Calm, the classic approach to designing outdoor living areas is based on order, balance, straight lines and symmetry. Zones are well defined, framed by walls or trimmed hedges that act to enclose the spaces. Shape, proportion and positioning are paramount to create elegance, solidness and tranquility"

05 Jan 19 -

Japan Cherry Festival 2018

News Michelle travelled with the Auckland Landscape Design Society on a tour with Penny Cliffin and Ian Henderson from Hikoi Garden Tours. The tour included the various forms of Japanese garden from earliest forms of structure to Zen. Highlights were the temple gardens in Kyoto and the modern architecture of Tadao Ando on the art island of Naoshima

06 Nov 18 -

NZ House & Garden September 2018

News "Those who don't believe in magic will never find it"-Roald Dahl framed on Ben and Nicola Smith's bathroom.
Well with a landscape plan, which Michelle produced, a wheelbarrow, 3000 plants and fencing - Ben still believed a landscape plan at the beginning for a new build gave him the direction for this project. Also...plant as soon as you can he recommends.

20 Sep 18 -

BOP Times Feature 2018

News Check out Michelle's latest project in Matua:

20 Sep 18 -

NZ House & Garden October 2018

News "It takes a village - from the Tauranga community to build a beautiful contemporary home in the Avenues". Featured in September's 2018 NZ House & Garden Michelle designed a landscape that draws you from the front gate with paving stones leading you into a courtyard pool. Low maintenance planting with high impact-it makes the most of the central location-harbour views in a nice leafy suburb

20 Sep 18 -

Houzz Featured

News We were hand-picked by one of Houzz writers to be featured in an editorial ideabook on the homepage of Houzz. See it here: "
13 Cosy Ways to Wrap Up Your Home for Winter" and Picture Perfect: 29 Reasons to Love Cherry Blossom Season

Whether you're enjoying them in New Zealand or around the world, 'tis the season to revel in drifts of soft pink blooms carpeting the ground

24 Sep 16 -

Italian Giardino 2016

News Michelle had an inspiring trip to the renaissance gardens of Northern Italy, June/July 2016. Areas visited included the Villas of Lake Como. Here she visited several famous Villas: Villa Carlotta, Villa Monestero, Villa Cipressi, and Villa Balbiannello. The region of Tuscany including Lucca and Florence and the gardens of Villa Medicea di Castello, Villa Gamtenaia and the Boboli Gardens. Of particular interest was the design and structure utilising the natural contours of the property.
Inspiration was taken from the peeps taken through wrought iron gates into the privacy of the gardens beyond. Raspberry hydrangeas, flowering hibiscus, bougainvillea, with canopies of olives were a highlight.

24 Sep 16 -

Cheery Cherry Spring 2015

News Michelle was featured in the October Edition of NZ House and Garden along with other talented gardeners on what makes their gardens special in this happiest of seasons

20 Sep 15 - David McDonnell

Garden & Art Festival 2014 - The Lakes

News Michelle Designed a show garden at 'The Lakes' as part of the Tauranga Garden & Art Festival 2014. GAF Patrons could relax in this little 'oasis' where lots of displays, concept gardens, and floral art were created to make a festival 'hub'.

08 Sep 15 - David McDonnell

Singapore Gardens by the Bay

News Gardens by the Bay is a park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore. Michelle visited the park in July 2015 and visited the three world renown waterfront gardens. Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden

01 Aug 15 - Michelle McDonnell

France 2014

Monet Garden June 2014

Monet Garden June 2014


Monet Garden June 2014


Château de Marqueyssac

Les Jardins du Manior d'Eyrignac

Les Jardins du Manior d'Eyrignac

Les Jardins du Manior d'Eyrignac

26 Aug 14 - Michelle

London 2014

Borde Hill, Sussex June 2014

London June 2014

Borde Hill, Sussex June 2014

Borde Hill, Sussex June 2014

26 Aug 14 - Michelle

NZ House and Garden Michelle's Garden July 2014

News Michelle McDonnell's own garden was featured in the July issue of New Zealand House and Garden magazine.

Click here to read the .pdf of the full article.

26 Aug 14 -

NZ House and Garden - Smith Garden July 2014

News Ron & Rachael Smith's garden was featured in the July issue of New Zealand House and Garden magazine.

Click here to read the .pdf of the full article.

26 Aug 14 -

Tauranga Garden and Artfest 2012

News As well as being a trustee for the Garden and Artfest, Michelle has designed and constructed a rooftop garden in tauranga's CBD for the duration of the festival. And she was part of the speaker series seminars with her topic of space saving gardens. She is also well represented in the Garden Fest, with many open gardens designs of hers.

08 Nov 12 -

Tauranga Garden And Artfest 2012

News Michelle will be speaking as part of the speaker series held on Saturday 03 November 2012. The topic Michelle will be speaking on is there's always room.
This looks at tips for how to achieve that dream garden in a small

10 Sep 12 -

Europe trip May/June 2012

News I have just returned from a fantastic tour of Gardens in England, France and Portugal. What a fabulous time I had and so many photos. The gardens were great and I learnt so much from each one. My trip included visits to the following: The Garden Museum (London), Chelsea flower show (2 days!!), Chelsea Physic garden, Hampton Court Palace, visit to John and Sue Speirs (from Tauranga) at Knightcote, Warwickshire, Stowe, Hidecote, Compton Verney, Lord Leycester garden, Kew Gardens, Wisley, Great Dixter, Sissinghurst, Beth Chatto garden, Rosemary Alexanders garden and Chiswick. While staying in Paris I attended two garden shows, one in Paris - Jardins Jardin and one in the Loire valley- Chateau de Chaumont. Portugal gardens (Lisbon) were spectacular and I visited Sintra, Monserrata Palacio, Palacio de Pene, Palacio de Marqueses de Fronteira and Palacio de Queluz.
I have come back excited to put some of what I have learnt into gardens here. European gardens with a New Zealand twist!!

22 Jul 12 - Michelle McDonnell

Garden Design Society of NZ visit Tauranga March 2012

News 25 Garden designers visited the beautiful BOP for three days and I had the pleasure to organise their tour. The weather was fantastic, the gardens all fabulous and the food (and wine) great!!. The 25 designers were from around NZ with most coming from Auckland. They all had an enjoyable time and learnt a bit about what is available in our region. It is not called the Bay of Plenty for nothing!! The visit included Standards of Excellence, Incredible Edibles, Kilarney Stone, The Adams beautiful property, The Lakes, Ace Mondo, Mills Reef winery, Janine Tait and Kevin Pearces courtyard garden. Great weekend was had by all.

22 Jun 12 -

Auckland Garden Designfest 2011

News Michelle attended the 2011 Auckland Garden Designfest recently. Twenty four gardens in total-professionally designed by NZ's leading contemporary garden designers. A broad cross section of styles were seen in the Auckland sub-tropical climate. The garden designers were on hand to discuss their varying styles.

22 Nov 11 -

Michelle's visit to Paul Bangay's Garden in Melbourne

News In late November Michelle visited one of Australias leading Landscape Designer's garden - Paul Bangay's Stonefields property on the outskirts of Melbourne. This is an example of a garden with all the elements of good design. Visiting many gardens of award winning landscape designers Michelle is challenging herself with new ideas, creations and styles to adapt to a New Zealand environment.

01 Dec 09 -

NZ Landscape & Garden Design Conference 2009

News I have just returned from five days in Auckland to attend the New Zealand Landscape and Garden Design conference 2009. This conference is held every two years, starting in NZ and then continues on to Australia to repeat.

The first day was a garden tour where three bus loads of delegates were transported around various parts of Auckland to view private gardens. Most had never been open to the public before - some have been showcased in various magazines - all were wonderful! Designed by various landscape designers - they spoke to us about the reasoning behind some of the garden design. At some, the architects talked to us too. Our tour ended with a wine at Ayrlies, the garden of Bev McConnell, this is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful country garden.

Day Two and Three were packed with outstanding overseas speakers with a diverse range of topics ranging from 'Current trends' by Rosemary Alexander, 'Sustainable Cities' combining 'Green roofs' by Edmund Snodgrass, 'Mud Houses' and 'Dry Gardens' in Morocco by Eric Ossart, to work by Roberto Burle Marx and also by Marta Montero to name a few. All had an outstanding passion and this was conveyed in the various compelling talks each one produced They kept us all entertained and wanting to know more about the various aspects of their wide ranging work. It made me feel proud to be involved with such a dynamic group who are looking to the future of garden design and landscapes and all which that encompasses.

Day Four and Five I spent back at “school” with Rosemary Alexander, Principal of the London School of Design based at London Physic garden. This was a Master class attended by only 30 of us. The class was both theory and practical for garden design and plant selection in a New Zealand context. Rosemary is a real character and after reviewing the process over the two days and buying her books for reference it felt great to remember why we do the Garden design process.

The Conference was a great experience, catching up with colleagues and friends within the industry and making new ones. It made me feel very proud to be involved with such a vibrant group of individuals all working to make this world a better place and leaving it(hopefully) in a better place than when we found it. I will certainly be attending the next one in two years time..

07 Oct 09 - Michelle McDonnell

Home & Garden Expo 2009

News 'Cobbleman' designed by Michelle McDonnell and constructed by Ultimate Landscape's Bryans brothers welcomes visitors to the 2009 'Bay of Plenty Times Home & Garden Expo'. He is 'totally unique - a point of difference' said Michelle. The article featuring in The Bay of Plenty Times on Thursday 3rd September described the exhibit having each piece of stone 'sawn to perfection'.

04 Sep 09 -

Formal Training

News After editor Lynda Hallinan from 'New Zealand Gardner' visited Tauranga for the Bayleys Garden & Art Festival in 2008 she wanted to meet the designer behind some of the gardens that featured. This included Michelle's own garden that was open for the festival. Monique Balvert-O'Connor profiles the garden that is family friendly, yet is structured through mass planting of selected varieties and clever layering. This was featured in the April 2009 edition of New Zealand Gardner

01 Apr 09 -

NZ Gardener - February 2009

News North Island Garden of the month. Claire and Mike Nicholson's garden has it all-contemporary style, a citrus grove and a kunekune called Taz!

09 Feb 09 - David McDonnell

New Zealand Gardener - January 2009

News In January's Edition of "New Zealand Gardener" Michelle is featured in a section dedicated to "25 vege garden ideas". It includes designer inspiration for edible gardens. This follows on from Michelle's success at the 2008 Bayleys Garden and Artfest. It profiles some of the vege tips that Michelle incorporated into the design that made up the intricate rustic victorian plot built by Ultimate Landscapes.

09 Jan 09 -

Winner of the Bayleys Garden and Artfest 2008

News Michelle McDonnell's Victorian Garden was announced as the winner of the Bayleys Garden and Artfest 2008, show garden category at the opening ceremony on Monday 10th of November 2008.

'Walk through the Ages' Gardens, Lakes Project, November 10 - Saturday 16 November.

This is a combined garden with Ultimate Landscapes. There are six 9x9m plots with a path running through each, depicting the change in vegetable gardens through the ages. Each designer has a plot and an era to convey. Our garden is based on the Victorian Vegetable garden, showing how it would have looked when the English immigrants arrived in New Zealand to start the “new world”. The vegetables have all been grown by heirloom seed and most of the products have been sourced from the bush.

11 Nov 08 - Michelle McDonnell

Gold Medal winners of the Landscape Challenge, The Bay of Plenty Homeshow

News A successful collaboration showcasing the work of both Michelle McDonnell Landscape design and Garden Pod Landscape Design and Construction.

This formal Italian inspired design included layered hedging, topiary, outdoor furniture with hints of pink - including pink washed pavers and a poodle with pink toenails. This design took the gold medal award.

11 May 08 - Michelle McDonnell