When Georgia Harper explained her idea about the Ohana garden to the team at The Garden Company, they formed a collaboration there and then to make it happen for MIFGS 2016.


Really, the idea was to create something fun - a space where all kinds of family can congregate and have a wonderful time. It had to evoke the 1960s, Elvis singin', beach party vibe, but still have some sophisticated finishes and work in today's world too.

Ohana, loosely translated, means 'family', 'extended family and friends' and 'no one left behind'. I really love that lack of distinction between the family you're born to and the family you make - that blend that's just right when you're all together.

The Mosaic

The centrepiece, and really the genesis, of the garden is the image of a generic Surfer Girl, found on bumper stickers and seafood menus across the US. She embodies the surf ethic, and a time past when things were carefree and simple - so she became our mascot, and we named her 'Leilani'. Leilani towers out from the pool and sets the tone for the space - lots of the colours used are matched to her colouring as well. 

Leilani is for sale, by the way - we'd love to find her a home, so if you're interested, please contact The Garden Company on 613 8873 0600 or lyn@gco.com.au

The Pool

The pool is tiled to match the lower part of Leilani's mosaic work, and cascades over 2 sides of the edges to create an illusion of more water, to reflect the waterfalls of Hawaii, and to offer another dimension, pool as water feature in the Melbourne climate. Elevating the pool also means that anyone from anywhere in the garden can talk to people in the pool, and isn't staying in the pool for as long as possible what it's all about?

Paving & Cladding

We wanted to have a beachy feeling, but without the messiness of sand - so we worked with our paving sponsor to create a rippled effect in a sandy coloured paving that they created just for us - I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot more of this, it's just fabulous. The ripples have a 3D effect, and from some angles it looks like it's rising up a little like a sand dune!

The Cladding is the same base material, but we added some green aggregates and honed it back to make it look a little like sea glass.


The garden is terraced on a few levels, and this was necessary because of the fall of the site (2m from back left to front right corners), but it also breaks up the space, and if you can imagine looking at it from a house, it gives maximum visibility of all the elements.

To balance out Leilani, we needed a structure that would act as an arbour and give some transparency - we developed a fish scale pattern with our sponsor and this gave us a great texture to work with, and we echoed it in the foliage.


A garden is not a garden without plants, and the beachside/tropical theme of Ohana called for an unusual planting scheme. The front garden beds are a combination of succulents and grasses to emulate the colours and textures of tropical reefs, and as the planting moves to the rear of the garden, the planting becomes more bold and tropical in nature, with large leaves and dark foliage textures.

Finishing Touches

Finishing touches can make or break a garden - for Ohana we used retro cushioning and upholstered ottomans, bio ethanol fire burner, a custom timber surfboard table, a record player spinning some classic beach vibe tracks, and much more. It's part of what makes Ohana a fun time, and a classic garden style we hope you love.



Ohana was a very tricky build in an incredibly tight timeframe - 7.5 days. Imagine what The Garden Company & The Pool Company could do in more sensible conditions.

They got every detail exactly right and put their hearts and souls into building Ohana. I could not recommend a more vigilant, professional team for your project - if you're looking to build a great space - look no further.


Ohana received a Silver Medal at MIFGS 2016, and proved to be one of the most talked about gardens at the largest event of it's type in the Southern Hemisphere.