I have literally walked out of a garden this morning and decided I needed to write about it. I am currently working with a client helping her get her garden in Chelsea Heights, Victoria ready for the Open Gardens Australia in late October. I started working with this client over a year ago when she approached me to help her get her garden “up to scratch” for her son’s wedding at the property last November. Walking in the gate of this garden for the first time I realised I had stumbled upon something special.
The garden is very well established with old trees, a chicken coup, bird aviary, old sheds and an outhouse. The moment you walk in the gates you realise this garden has character. What you can miss if you don’t open your eyes and your mind is that this garden has soul.
I find it interesting when I design a garden for a client. Often when you go back later they refer to it as “Brent’s Garden” or “Your garden”. I try to instil in the client that it’s not “my” garden, I was just lucky enough to be allowed to work with them on it. It is their garden!
Sometimes it is hard for people to take the ownership of a garden that has been designed for them back from the designer. I hear comments like “I didn’t want to wreck it” or “I wasn’t sure if you’d like it”? As a designer I stop short of selecting sculptures, water features and garden art for people. I am more than happy to help and point them in the right direction of artists I think are good and clever and creative whose creative work is good quality and going to last.
I find selecting art for the garden to be very personal. These are the signature pieces that clients can add to a garden that definitely takes a garden away from being “Brent’s Garden” and corrects it to be “our garden”. The personal details that people can add to their own space are now endless. There are so many different products on the market and many different artists out there doing some amazing with a price tag to suit everyone’s budget. The old phrase, “I don’t know art, but I know what I like” can now be used for features in the garden.
We often design a space for a sculpture with only a vague idea what it will end up being. We send the client out hunting for a piece they like, but generally they find something when they are not looking. I love getting a phone call to say “We have found a sculpture! But we need you to help us place it”. It is nice when clients add their own personal touches to the thought, creativity and effort we have put into their garden.
Take the garden back, we won’t be offended. It makes us happy to see you loving it.
I feel very lucky to have worked in a very small way on this garden in Chelsea Heights. This is not only a horticultural playground but the client has adorned the entire garden with her mosaic works as well as her own random collections. This garden is art. Not only do the static pieces get added to, moved around and changed so does the garden. Split that, move them, transplant, propagate. Things in this garden get tried. Things in this garden succeed and things in this garden fail. But it is a continual evolution of a piece of living art.
The static art that has come out of the owner is what gives this garden its soul. This garden is dominated by plants, trees, shrubs groundcovers and hanging baskets. If you choose to do so, everywhere you look is a different piece of art. A missing brick with a mosaic in its place, ceramic balls scattered through the garden beds, mosaics on walls, mirrors, urns, chooks and birds. This lady has taken a backyard and poured her heart and soul into this space and the result is therapeutic for anybody who walks in the gates and is prepared to leave their world on the street for a few minutes. You cannot walk around this garden without a smile on your face.
Not all gardens have to be technically perfect or have a long winded theory behind why it was created. I truly believe a successful garden can just make you happy. The most amazing thing about this garden is the owner has no idea how special a place she has created. She has made a garden her own with her own artistic creations and flair and in the process made a magical place for others to visit. After some convincing as to how special this garden could be to people other than its creator, on October 26 and 27 this garden will be open for the first time. The owner is a truly humble lady willing to share a very personal space for the first time. This garden is very much worth a look. Open your mind and your eyes and then go home and think about how some art added to your own garden could transform a nook, a corner a focal point in the garden and add your own personal touch and style.
[‘Chelsea’ at 145 Thames Promenade, Chelsea Heights, Victoria, is open through Open Gardens Australia on 26-27 October 2013, 10am-4.30pm $8, children under 18 free]