This year Second Nature celebrates its 25th birthday. The company has a long and rich history. Its genesis began well before its formal incorporation in 1996. It is in fact the result of the cumulative skill, creativity and hard work of many, many people over nearly four decades. The talent, dedication, passion, knowledge, and skill of these individuals has created innumerable wonderful gardens and, of equal importance, many productive and enduring relationships. Without these relationships, none of what Second Nature is today would have been achieved.

The seed of this history was planted in 1970 by my Form 2 teacher – a passionate hunter and bushman. A nature project around a remnant piece of lowland forest in Trentham Memorial Park sparked my life-long interest in the wonders of the natural world. Working as a ‘landscaper’ is an extension of this interest, now a passion.


Trentham Memorial Park – a stunning lowland forest remnant in Upper Hutt.

Fast forward to the mid-1980’s when the late Chris Clapham and I started Andelain Nursery in Silverdale. We built gardens to fund the nursery. Increasing demand for our fledging landscaping skills resulted in landscape work becoming our dominant endeavour. This was a time when the ‘rustic’ was fashionable – old bricks, punga walls, railway sleepers and the ubiquitous Yellow Wave flax.


Demand grew and a greater, more sophisticated skill set was required. I was competing for work in the Whangaparaoa area with one Peter Nerney. Always mindful of the ‘competition’ I recall Pete passing me on the road with his Holden station wagon loaded to the gunwales with broken concrete. With a misguided sense of superiority, I noted that he couldn’t even afford a trailer. It was lost on me that I was towing my father’s trailer and couldn’t afford a trailer myself!

Events transpired that Pete and I stopped competing and became business partners. We worked together for nearly twenty years. Andelain Nursery became Second Nature. We built many gardens together, were ravaged by the impact of the share market crash in the late 1980’s, bounced back and did it all again. With developing experience and skills, we continued to build both increasingly complex and large-scale gardens.

Pete moved north and Janet Clarke, who having experienced her garden being transformed by Second Nature, used Second Nature as a case study while studying for a post-graduate business diploma, purchased his 50% share in 2006. She believed that Second Nature produced a great product but described it (affectionately) as a gutfeel, seat-of-your-pants, back-of-an-envelope type of operation. She saw potential in a company that had greater systemisation, marketing, and business discipline. This began her journey from client to shareholder and working director.


Second Nature has continued to grow, now employing 45 people and offering a complete suite of landscape services. We have a loyal, dedicated and hugely talented team. Their collective experience in the landscape field is more than 400 years! We are immensely proud of the breadth and depth of the skills and knowledge of our team.

Inspired design is the foundation of every successful garden. We have had the huge privilege of working with many of the most talented garden designers and architects in NZ – Leo Jew, Rod Barnett, Trish Bartleet, Kerry Speirs, Patrick Corfe, Robin Shafer, Trudy Crerar, Jo Hamilton, Fiona Kelly, Damian Wendelborn, Andy Hamilton, Tony Murrell, Kate Frazerhurst, Louise Hanlon, Herbst Architects, Mal Bartleet and Richard Tyler.

25 years on we can reflect on what a marvellous body of work has been created and acknowledge all those that have contributed to what Second Nature is today.

It is also timely to look to the future. Janet and I were determined that Second Nature would continue beyond the limitations of our involvement – that it is an initiative bigger than the individuals involved. Our vision is of a company that gives its people opportunities for personal development and security for their futures, while continuing to create beautiful gardens and work positively in the wider environmental space. We are excited that a new generation of leaders are continuing to develop the company’s vision, capacity, reputation, and commitment to our amazing team.

He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.