Growing up in the North East of England, near to Northumberland National Park, the Northumbrian coastline and the Lake District National Park gave Steven a love for nature and natural landscapes from an early age.
During a career in IT Project Management, gardening, planting and creative pastimes such as sketching and painting, became a way to unwind from the stresses of the day and Steven ultimately left this career to embark upon the journey of becoming a garden designer – combining his love of nature with his creative talents.
Whilst living in Brisbane, Steven was successful in securing a place at the acclaimed London College of Garden Design, and soon after, temporarily returned to the UK to be based at Kew Gardens, where his studies have allowed him to work alongside and learn from some of the most acclaimed designers in the gardening world. This included a period helping at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show, working on the IKEA garden.
Steven graduated from the London College of Garden Design with a Distinction.
Having returned to Brisbane, Steven is now excited to compliment his design skills with Australia’s love for outdoor living, using a range of new planting associations and materials to create beautiful outdoor spaces. His background in project management gives him a good understanding of the importance of working closely with clients on the development of the design brief and maintaining a professional approach.
My Instagram profile can be viewed at: stevo.harris
3/24 Fortitude Street
Steve Harris Landscape Design aims to produce stunning, yet practical gardens in a range of styles tailored to each client’s brief. Combining contemporary aesthetics with ecological principles, our approach to landscape design aims to encompass elements of the endemic landscape by incorporating local native plants and natural materials. Sympathetically blending the site architecture into the surrounding landscape and minimising environmental impact is also key and we are always keen to pursue the potential of new materials in the garden. Where possible, materials and labour are sourced locally – reducing the carbon footprint, transport costs and helping to support other local businesses.
My belief is that a garden should:
• reflect the taste and needs of its owner
• complement the interior space of a residence where possible
• engage the mind and spirit, providing a place of relaxation
However, the important issue is that you must be able to use your garden as you want. It should be an idyllic, functional space for you, your family and friends to enjoy. I am more than happy to consider any type of garden project, from a small urban courtyard to a large rural garden and anything in between! Projects within SE Queensland, Interstate or Internationally will be considered.
Redbridge House in Upper Clatford sits on a plot of land of approximately 3 acres and much of the garden is natural ‘wild’ countryside within the bottom of the river valley. The clients were very keen to maintain the ‘openness’ of this countryside feel but also wanted a relaxing and usable garden space that met the practical and functional needs of a modern day home, providing spaces to relax and unwind whilst being seduced by the surrounding natural landscape.
At the heart of my design concept is the presence and flow of water and the calming feeling it imbues. I built on this by exploring a variety of challenging wetland habitats and their unique ecological diversities evident from the existing conditions – natural spring fed ponds, fen grassland, wet carr woodland and the re-wetting of a legacy water meadow that once existed on the site. These areas were complimented by more usable areas of dry lawn and woodland, along with ornamental gardens closer to the property. Some architectural elements were included that softened the boundaries between the natural landscape and the modern home.
Detail drawings for the raised terrace and the overwater deck/jetty.
The family moved into this property 2 years ago after being mesmerised by the beautiful view of the Chiltern Hills at the foot of the garden. With limited existing planting and a tennis court plus in-ground swimming pool needing to be removed, this was a fantastic opportunity to revitalise a garden in such a beautiful location! The design of the garden was to accommodate plans for a future extension of the house, to include a new indoor pool area with adjoining glass atrium. As the property is located in a protected Green Belt area with various legal restrictions, the design also needed to be sympathetic to the surrounding landscape.
Inspiration is taken from the chalk geology that forms the ‘backbone’ of the physical landscape in this region and creates three diverse natural habitats: Beech woodland, chalk grasslands and chalk streams.
To the front of the property the density of planting is increased to complement the existing Beech and Oak trees, enhancing the ‘woodland’ feel with other native species and introducing a productive ‘forest garden’ containing fruit, nuts, vegetables and flowers for cutting. The rear garden introduces areas of naturalistic planting, with grasses and meadow flowers transitioning into swathes of ornamental grasses, woven with brightly coloured perennials. Colours are soft and muted, complementing the natural landscape. Linking the front and rear gardens is a conceptual chalk stream that begins life as a small ‘spring’ within the new atrium and sinuously meanders through the woodland around the building. The intermittent flow of a chalk stream with its springs and sinks, is interpreted by the water giving way to a gravel pathway interspersed with small sections of water before cutting a lazy line across the grass areas and culminating in a timber walk-way that crosses a natural style pond. Mown grass pathways lead through the longer grass to open other areas of the garden, encouraging exploration and adventure as well as providing seating places for quiet contemplation.
The clients were an Architect and an Interior Designer, who had good strong ideas about what they wanted to get from their garden. The most important of these was to preserve the current view of Chesham Bois (woodland). Additionally, a contemporary feel with strong hard landscaping materials such as glass, concrete and metals needed to be balanced and softened with plenty of foliage. The clients also wanted the garden to provide spaces in which they could feel relaxed, wind down and enjoy entertaining friends and family.
The concept of this design is born from the architectural blueprint produced by the client in order to show the proposed layout of the house/rooms once their new extension is built. The style of drawing and grid layout inspired me to create a garden plan in a similar manner, with defined rectilinear areas created using hard landscaping materials as boundaries. Some of these areas are hard surfaces and others are planted. The primary lines of the garden layout follow the geometry of the house and protect the views and sightlines from indoors, but also give a view back to the house as desired. The boundaries of the created space are varied in elevation, providing vertical interest and creating a framework of ‘rooms within the garden’. Details in the steps and concrete doorways take inspiration from architects Carlo Scarpa and Tadao Ando. The planting style in the upper level of the garden is intended to compliment and emphasise the architectural aspect of boundaries, while the lower level has a distinctly Mediterranean feel to it, adding to the laid back Italian feel given by the sunken bocce court.
Overall, the design exudes a simplicity and elegance, with clean cleans and relaxing, comfortable spaces.
Cambridge Cottage represents one of the most popular and therefore heavily used venues
available for public hire at Kew Gardens. It is used mainly for weddings, private parties, corporate events, conferences and lectures. The client was looking to reinvigorate the gardens with an inspirational space that is flexible and stimulating in use but which forms an impressive backdrop to the Georgian house and a visual link to the wider gardens.
Taking inspiration from the character and aesthetic qualities of the fern fronds within the existing planting, the design explores these spontaneous organic forms, reflecting natural patterns, whilst providing an interesting, flexible garden suitable for a wide variety of private events, whilst also improving the link between Cambridge Cottage and the wider Kew Gardens. The layout and planting style both reflect the adventurous spirit of Kew’s great plant hunter, Sir Joseph Banks and his antipodean discoveries on voyages during the Georgian period. Planting is used to conjure feelings of sub-tropical and temperate forests, forming defined spaces and creating a sense of exploration within the garden. Trees, water and sculpture give further structure, and provide good visual backdrop for events.