Chris Ballantyne describes himself as a career landscaper who has evolved his Auckland business Second Nature into a multi-faceted thriving landscaping company. In 2006 business partner Janet Clarke came on board carrying strong business skills that helped shift the business to new levels.
“The company has grown organically, through the passion and capability of the people who have worked or still do work for Second Nature,” says Chris.
Trace back 30 or so years and Chris says you will ﬁnd that landscaping company’s operated in a very different way.
“In my journey I’ve seen the industry transformed from where one person basically did everything into specialisations of highly skilled professionals. Regardless, however of what skills you possess you have to have a love of being creative.”
Today Second Nature has grown and expanded with specifc divisions where highly skilled people invest their talents and disciplines to help create beautiful spaces for their clients.
The business has qualiﬁed landscape designers, landscape build teams, a planting division and professional garden care crews.
An ability to problemsolve is a must-have capability says Chris.
“You’re often having to work between a client’s own vision for a space and what you can see the area has potential to become.”
Second Nature concentrates mainly in the private sector but has also undertaken playground design and installation for kindergartens around Auckland.
Sometimes Chris is asked to renew or reinvent a garden for the purposes of selling a home, but often it is transforming an existing section with the addition of a dramatic feature such as a pool or structural detail to give a space a real wow factor.
An in-house design team, led by talented designer Kerry Speirs has been operating for two years though Chris says Second Nature has also evolved relationships with a number of garden designers, land scape architects and architects.
Chris says that key to the company’s success has been an ability to retain the passion for creating beautiful gardens of any scale or style, while staying true to Second Nature’s core ethics and vision.
“I still work on selected projects and over the years have developed an interest in ecological restoration work.” Chris enjoyed working on a restoration project at Tutukaka.
This project was set on a stunning coastal site at Tutakaka. The goal was create a garden that complemented the architecture of the home and responded to the unique ecological values of the site.
The challenge was to make the garden look as ‘natural’ as possible and to seamlessly merge the garden into the surrounding native bush. The company has completed a wide variety of projects.
“Second Nature was engaged to design and build a garden that complemented a unique historic property in Epsom. ‘The clients’ brief was to create a garden that was ﬂamboyant and utilised a rich palette of materials’ The reconstruction of the crumbling front terrace was challenging from a technical and engineering perspective.”
A contemporary water feature designed by Trish Bartleet, who Chris describes as a brilliant designer, was a labour of love on another project.
Featuring dramatic solid vaults of hand-placed stone mosaic, striking use of texture, and colour distinction in the form of gold lights reﬂecting down to the pool below and with a cleverly crafted cantilevered seating either side of an outside ﬁre, the small area has been transformed into a work of art.
While the garden-care service was initially an add-on service Second Nature offered its clients, demand has taken off.
“We call it a living portfolio where we come back and attend to the garden as it matures. It’s wonderful to have these long term relationships and its very satisfying to see what can be achieved with ongoing care.”
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