“Concrete bunkers in the jungle.” This somewhat singular design brief from owner Robyn Alexander has inspired a uniquely beautiful Point Wells property and breathed new life into the concept of resort-style living.
Set amid nine hectares of exotic gardens, glasshouses and palm trees, Robyn and her husband Hamish have created their ‘forever home.’ Bali Gardens is a place where family and friends come together to enjoy long summers by the pool or relax on the gently rolling lawn that meets the peaceful waters of the Omaha Estuary.
A large Buddha welcomes visitors to the property. Carved from a single piece of stone, it stands beside a lily-covered lake; the perfect introduction to the gardens and house that awaits.
The “concrete bunker” is stunning. A fusion of concrete and wood with a decidedly South East Asian flavour, the building’s clever design makes the most of the breath-taking views from every room, opening out onto lush lawns, mass plantings and the enclosed courtyard pool.
The glass walkway leading to the front door is lined with jasmine, renga renga lilies and exotic palms, and is a fragrant nod to Robyn and Hamish’s long history in the glasshouse industry. It’s also home to Robyn’s much-loved Madagascan jasmine stephanotis, a jungle-sized vine draped in large avocado-sized seed pods and heavily scented flowers.
Robyn’s favourite spot to entertain is poolside, surrounded by a tropical spread of giant taro leaves, glossy Xanadu philodendrons and cycads under the shade of the huge fronds of a decorative pink banana palm.
“I wanted to feel like I was living in a resort, and create a place where we can entertain family and friends and make the most of the summer months,” said Robyn.
But the Bali gardens are her sanctuary.
“My gardens are therapy, on a lot of levels, and they contain my friends. I have a very personal connection to my plants – they are memorials to loved ones, and many have grown from clippings passed on from friends and family.”
They are also the perfect creative outlet for Robyn, who uses her interior designer’s eye to combine an eclectic mix of native, traditional and tropical plants to create a harmonious garden that doesn’t follow any rules.
“I didn’t want the garden to feel like a theme park, or get tied into any one type of planting. The gardens are constantly evolving and changing, someone might want a new home for their bromeliads, which end up finding a space alongside canna lilies and hydrangeas.”
The gardens showcase the hand-crafted pieces that Robyn collects and sells from her regular trips to Bali. Giant stone pots, sculptures and other Balinese works of art line the pathways, with Robyn’s playful mix of planting offering a colourful backdrop. A traditional wooden daybed, shaded by a carved pavilion and approached by delicately engraved stepping stones, is the perfect space to while away lazy summer hours.
Robyn’s most recent project has added another element of history and tradition to the property, and is a work of art in itself. Transported to Point Wells on the back of two trucks, the old wooden stables from Hamish’s childhood farm in Whanganui have been lovingly rebuilt and repurposed for boutique accommodation.
Set amidst the palm plantation, the stables have retained their original footprint and their character, with heavy barn doors and walls lined in native timbers. They have also been a great excuse for Robyn to put her hand to a new show-stopping garden design; creating another inspiring landscape for old friends and new to enjoy.
Robyn and Hamish’s property is available for guided garden tours – advance bookings are essential.