Amid the handcrafted gardens that embrace Bryan and Barbara King's elegant home, it is the choice of roses that have played a leading role.

The driveway garden is lined with red carpet roses; the formal garden that wraps around the central dining deck has a pergola dripping with white "wedding day" roses.

On the north-west courtyard off the indoor living areas, it is Bryan's tiled compass rose with its French fleur-de-lis flower that points the way north to the tropical pool and tiered waterfall garden.

A bed of roses here also established demarcation lines within the gardens that have doubled the functionality of this home overlooking protected native bush.

When Barbara moved here and left behind the roses of her Remuera townhouse, she told Bryan she wanted a garden of her own.

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He assigned her a patch by the courtyard lawn – and waited to see what she'd do with it. After a respectful period, he said he was getting the gardener in because she wasn't spending enough time on her roses.

"That's when we decided that he'd do the outside and I'd do the inside," she says.

Now Barbara happily tends her bonsai trees in the garden beyond the windows in their family room. Meanwhile, Bryan takes care of his "wild garden", with its waterfall bridge and stone pathways, to the formal garden, with its climbing fragrant jasmine and boardwalk near the vegetable gardens.

For Bryan, all this comes on the back of more than 50 years in the gardening business, most recently as the co-founder of the Kings Plant Barn chain.

His vision is evident in the structural paths, the trellis and the tall frames that shape each garden room. Each is planted with swathes of texture and colour.

Significant accents include low-hanging floral baskets that deliver eye-level colour, and sculptures that include St Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners and trellis builders.

Inside, Barbara has brought the same sense of colour, texture and proportion into the art and furnishings in the entry-level living areas, master bedroom and upstairs bedrooms.

"We have redecorated the house the way we both like it," she says.

The solid plaster house was somewhat smaller back in 1992 when it was designed by architect Fraser Gillies for previous owners. In 1998, Bryan and his late wife Joyce bought this house, updating it with new bathrooms and a new fireplace in the lounge.

When Bryan and Barbara married, they thought about buying a place of their own.

But they decided to extend after finding that there were few houses available on big properties. They stuck to the original building plans, adding the master bedroom quarters and guest bedroom off the lounge hallway.

Everywhere else, this twin-gabled house is as it always has been, from its vaulted ceilings to the American oak/granite kitchen that is part of the large family room. "This is a really easy house to live in, whether it is just us or a group of, say, eight people," says Bryan.

Bryan recently subdivided adjoining land on a separate title to yield two buildings sites for sale and the third site for their new home.

Here he'll continue his labour of love, creating garden rooms on a much smaller block of land. "A garden is never finished," he says.

6 EMILY LANE, GREENHITHE
• 6 bedrooms, 4 bathroom, 3* parking spaces.
• Land 6004sq m, house 498sq m.
• Sale: By negotiation (over $3,500,000).
• Inspect: Phone agent.
• Schools: Greenhithe School, Upper Harbour Primary School, Albany Junior and Senior High School.
• Contact: John Diprose, Harcourts, 0274 934 670.
*Plus 3 OSP