Catherine StewartWhy I’ll be at the conference

The Australian Landscape Conference is on again in Melbourne 21-22 September 2013, and I’ll be going. There’s a few reasons why it’s on my must-do list for 2013 – which was/is a very busy list with overseas travel, garden shows, garden club talks and seminar presentations. The Australian Landscape Conference is only on every two years and I think it’s well worth the time, money and effort.

Visit two gardens designed by Fiona Brockhoff on the ALC garden tour

Visit two gardens designed by Fiona Brockhoff on the ALC garden tour

Lifelong learning

It’s easy to get lazy about learning new stuff. You can think that your head is already so full of design ideas and plant names that you couldn’t possibly fit in any more. Or that plants are plants and there’s nothing much new under the sun, so what’s to learn?

Lots it turns out. After reading through the list of key ALC speakers I can see there are some gaping holes in my knowledge and many things about which I haven’t ever thought. Like gardening as an expression of our relationship with our natural landscapes and climate, and the implications for truly sustainable garden design and practices. Or design as an agent provocateur, filled with day-glo topiary, plastic flowers and experimentation. Or why the world over there is an endless fascination with Japanese gardens.

Design by Raymond Jungles

Design by Raymond Jungles

An overseas safari

I can go to Melbourne for two days and enjoy the cream of the gardening and designing world, which has conveniently be brought there for me. Juan Grimm from Chile, Toshio Watanabe of Japan, Aniket Bhagwat from India and American Raymond Jungles bring with them new cultural perspectives that I’m keen to hear about and understand.

Design by Juan Grimm

Design by Juan Grimm

I want to try and take off my own cultural goggles for at least a short while and try and understand natural and built landscapes and gardens from a totally different viewpoint. I’m not suggesting that Australian thinking about gardens is some sort of cultural backwater – far from it, as I believe we have some of the best in the business. But I want to be challenged and forced to see that the way I think about gardens is not the only way.

Added to that I can enjoy some delicious local talent, like the very thoughtful Anne Latreille, whose new book ‘Garden Voices’ will soon be released, the celebrated garden designer Paul Bangay, and one of Australia’s best garden photographers, Simon Griffiths.

The buzz

There’s nothing like getting into a conference environment with a couple of hundred revved up, committed and passionate people to recharge your own creative juices. I often get to the point when I look out at my own garden and feel unenthused and uninspired. It’s one of the consequences of making the hobby you love into your career, but even before I was at that point I went to the inaugural ALC back in the 1990s and it really did something for me. I felt like I was on wave of positive, excited thinking about all things garden. I’ll never forget that buzz and I want to feel it again.

The spectacular Australian Garden at Cranbourne is part of the Garden Tour

The spectacular Australian Garden at Cranbourne is part of the Garden Tour

I missed the last one

I didn’t go to the 2011 ALC. I was deep in the middle of creating GardenDrum and just couldn’t find the time to get away. Then I heard colleagues talking about what they’d heard, who they’d met, what they’d learned and I was bloody annoyed. But too late. So I’m not missing out this year.

Rick Eckersley garden in the ALC Tour

Rick Eckersley garden in the ALC Tour

Meeting new people and sharing ideas

I’m a networking junkie but I hope not in a bad way. I think everyone, no matter who, has an interesting tale to tell and ideas to share. And I want to meet you all. I want you to tell me about your gardens, your inspirations, even your disasters. It’s one of the reasons I started GardenDrum but it’s even better to get an opportunity to do it in person. So come along to the conference, hunt me down, introduce yourself and tell me everything because I really do want to know.

You can book for the 2 day Australian Landscape Conference 21-22 September 2013 and also the garden tour on 20 September (so many fabulous Melbourne gardens to discover!), and also the more intimate speaker’s dinner on 21 September.

Enjoy a workshop with Michael McCoy

Enjoy a workshop with Michael McCoy

Plus on 23 and 24 September there are 9 workshops at Burnley College with local experts Michael McCoy, Andrew Laidlaw, Steven Wells, Simon Griffiths, Simon Rockard, John Rayner and Paul Thompson as well as several of the international speakers like Toshio Watanabe and Ken Smith. And you don’t have to go to the conference to also attend the workshops – they’re all separately booked.

Come on, you know you want to be there too.

 

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Catherine Stewart

About Catherine Stewart

Award-winning garden journalist, blogger and photographer; writer for garden magazines and co-author of 'Waterwise Gardening'; landscape designer turned landscape design judge and critic; compulsive networker and lover of generally putting fingers in lots of pies. Particularly mud pies. Creator, curator and editor of GardenDrum. Sydney, NSW.

One thought on “Why I’ll be at the conference

  1. Totally agree Catherine although these days I have to think about the cost – airline, accommodation etc BUT it’s worth it. I still think the 1988 Conference was the best, a real watershed. There’s always a feeling of excitement at these conferences and it’s a great chance to meet up.
    As a country person I’m always in awe of the young Melbournite’s dress code. My RMs will need a polish!
    Peta Trahar

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