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Meet: Steve Warner

Meet Steve Warner, joy giver. Steve Warner, landscape designer and owner of Outhouse Design, is a big believer in giving back.

So when Fairy Sparkle needed help making a garden at the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick guess who she asked!

An interview with Robin Powell


Meet Steve Warner, joy giver. Photo - Robin Powell


The Happy Garden has been making sick kids and their parents smile for more than a year now. Do you still receive feedback?

Fairy Sparkle is there every other day and she reports back about the response, which is terrific. There are always new patients arriving, sadly, and they love the garden, whether they get to actually be in it, or whether they are too sick to leave their beds and can only see it from the windows.


How did the garden come about?

Fairy Sparkle, who does such great work in trying to bring a bit of lightness into the lives of sick children, contacted me and said she had this empty space, a great idea and no money. Could I help? It made no sense from a financial perspective, but total sense from a personal one. And once we visited the site, and met some of the people who would be engaging with it, we couldn’t say no.


Before the garden was built the space was less than inviting! Photo - Robin Powell


Tell us a bit about the space.

It’s a typical space in these kinds of building, a first floor concrete balcony area that was harsh and hot with an awkward layout. The aim was to change it into a place of respite for children and their families. We created a lawn using synthetic grass, murals to represent an enchanted forest and put in ‘toadstool’ seating and shade structures. Mature trees and scented shrubs are in pots, and there’s a 4m magic light tree as the centrepiece and a bright gazebo with a skylight that fits a hospital bed.


The Happy Garden has now transformed this space into something magical! Photo - Robin Powell


Is your pro bono work always on such a big scale?

For landscape professionals assisting not-for-profits isn’t always a big project, it might just be a little bit of time. To give simple advice like don’t plant that tree, choose this other one. Or the sandpit would be best over here. Your expertise can have a real knock-on effect on things like safety, longevity and cost. And it really doesn’t take much time. If we have the skills and ability to assist we will, and if we can encourage and inspire other professionals to help out too that’s great. Positive breeds positive, right?


What do you get out of it?

It gives our staff some great opportunities, gives us a bit of balance as a practice, and frankly, there’s nothing better than putting a smile on someone’s face.

About this article

Author: Robin Powell