gardens should capture the
beauty of nature around us,
be timeless in their application
and help us feel rejuvenated
and relaxed


Designing public spaces, schools and housing projects are by nature collaborative ventures. My aim is to work in an open and communicative way with relevant stakeholders to create a landscape that is socially and environmentally responsive. The end product should be inspiring, fiscally achievable and long lasting.

I can assist you with:

  • Landscape Planning: including building, roading, cycleway and pathway layouts
  • Structural planting plans and on-site stormwater management
  • Consent application processes and procedures
  • Presentations to and consultation with stakeholder groups
  • Creating Interactive and innovative landscapes for children and adults alike

design and planning pageorganics permaculturetalk and workshops page

PROJECT GALLERY- click to enlarge images

Kelmarna City Farm, Grey Lynn, Auckland
Kelmarna City Farm
Kelmarna City Farm
Kelmarna City Farm
Spring festival Kelmarna City Farm
compost bins Kelmarna City Farm
compost bins Kelmarna City Farm


Kelmarna Gardens is a city farm and
organic community garden in Auckland
dedicated to building a healthy community
and environment and promoting
sustainable living.

It is situated on 4.5 acres of council land
in Grey Lynn, close to the heart of the city.  
On its north-facing slopes are a food forest,
bee hives, vegetable plots, a worm farm,
hens, a Welsh pony and grazing livestock.
Carl Pickens has been engaged to work
with the Kelmarna Gardens trust to design
a Redevelopment Plan for the farm. With
the Redevelopment Plan now in place
attention has shifted to commencing
building work - sometime in late 2016.
All construction work at Kelmarna Gardens
has been carried out by Carl Pickens and
his team.

The Bird Cage, Victoria Park Precinct of Auckland
birdcage courtyard 1
birdcage courtyard 2
birdcage courtyard 3


The Birdcage is an iconic tavern located in the
Victoria park precinct of Auckland. Carl was
commissioned to work with Council and the
client to produce a concept and planting plan
for the courtyard areas.

Amuri Area School, Culverden, North Canterbury
governors bay garden 1
g.bay garden 3
g.b garden 4


I was approached in 2008 to produce a
redesign of the school grounds for this rural
school in North Canterbury. The brief was to
keep cost down by keeping as much as
possible of the existing paving and planting,
while creating a vastly improved school
landscape, not an insignificant challenge!
The master plan achieved this and it was a
pleasure to work with the pupils to hear their
ideas for what the school needed in its play
areas and gardens. A staged implementation
will eventually see a central amphitheatre
becoming the hub of school performances,
with massive improvements to car parks,
pathways, and shade structures improving
all round safety.

The Waihi Academy of StudiesWaihi Green Tea and Berry Garden
governors bay garden 1
g.bay garden 3
g.b garden 4


Green tea and berry plantings were
carried out in August 2014 adjacent
to the existing food forest. The layout
of this garden has been established
as a series of radiating circles, with
occasional gaps between plants so
the whole structure acts as a kind
of ‘maze’.

The Waihi Academy of Studies
Waihi Academy 2
g.bay garden 3
Waihi Academy 2
g.bay garden 3


The Waihi Academy of Studies has plans
to develop niche organic horticultural
enterprises on its land near Waihi on the
southern Coromandel Coast. Carl is
working with Daniel Tohill and others to
develop a Food Forest on 5 acres, with
planting due to begin in winter 2013.

These pictures depict the food forest
after 1.5 years growth. The weeds are
being allowed to grow underneath
the fruit trees, and in turn we are
seeing many benefits; from water
conservation to the creation of
insect habitat, as well as added
protection from prevailing winds.
Clover is prevalent under fruit trees
where some limited weeding has
taken place.

Seven Oaks School, Canterbury


Seven Oaks School in Canterbury is Planning
a new School in Halswell. The new grounds
will include 3 temperate food forests, orchards,
organic growing areas, age specific play
gardens, an amphitheatre, chickens, a recycling
station, bike tracks, and areas for wild nature.
Seven Oaks School is passionate about children
learning through interaction with nature.
Construction has not yet started.

North Piha Carpark, Auckland
governors bay garden 1
g.bay garden 3


Working with the local community board, a
resident architect and engineer, I produced
this design for a new carpark at north Piha
Auckland. The simple one way system around
the carpark, with central grassed area for
pedestrians, turned what was a very
dangerous area into a much safer one.
This was important as it was renound for
being busy and dangerous to pedestrians in
the summer months. Large timber sleepers
have worked well to help give the carpark a
rustic, rural feel.

Mt Eden Stairway, Auckland
governors bay garden 1
g.bay garden 3
g.b garden 4


This stairway was a solution to a very
interesting problem; How to get a walkway
up the side of Mount Eden in Auckland over
the top of a large water pipe. The pipe
couldn't be buried due to the ground
underneath being full of 400 year old
puhutukawa roots. So I worked with
engineers to design a walkway that sat
above the pipe, and insisted upon the sides
being boarded up with timber to ensure the
pipe was hidden from view. The walkway is
well used, and I have since seen many a
runner using it for exercise.

Mangere Park, Auckland
g.bay garden 3


This small park in Mangare was essentially a
shortcut linking one suburb to another in a
new subdivision. The brief was to design
pathways and seating areas in a tight budget.
I set about doing this by designing a
meandering pathway following the main
pattern of movement through the reserve,
and circular seating areas for sitting and
relaxing on the way.

Waitakere Subdivision


We undertook the design of this reserve
contribution in west Auckland as part of
a proposed subdivision. Our proposal
included integrated wetlands for stormwater
filtration, extensive native plantings using
ecosourced species, and a network of

Owhanake Reserve, Waiheke Island
governors bay garden 1


A design project for Auckland City, the brief
here was to produce a concept for the reserve,
on a main walking track, that recognised the
ecological importance of the local stream.
I worked with an ecologist who found native
trout in the stream (I could barely contain
her excitement), to produce a design with
sufficient riparian plantings to protect and
enhance it. Pathways and a bridge over the
stream would link to existing walking tracks,
and a large grassy space would leave room
for the football or frisbee. Ecology and
recreation in harmony is my idea of a win-win.

Manukau Street Plantings, Auckland
governors bay garden 1



To read more about Carl's various areas of design, and to view his PROJECT GALLERIES click the links below...

Lifestyle blocks and city gardens parks schools subdivisions Lifestyle blocks and City Gardens Parks, Schools, Subdivisions

Landscape and Visual assessment Organics permaculture


There are a lot of these street plantings in
Manukau City, and they were becoming tired,
overgrown, and difficult to maintain.
I was called in to produce Planting Plans
that revamped the existing plantings,
keeping what we could to save costs while
vastly improving the visual quality. We
achieved this, and by introducing colour
in the plant selection brightened sections of
the highway, my contribution to improving
the driver experience.