Phillip WithersMy show garden, Viridis

I’m now back on solid ground after being up in Sydney for a couple of weeks taking part in the Australian Garden Show Sydney. All I can say is, what an experience it became! And what a great effort to put a show together in such a short period of time and to get it to that level.

Silver Ward at Australian Garden Show Sydney

Early days showing the no-dig construction

Early days showing the no-dig construction

My feeling was that both the Inspirational and Urban gardens were of a great standard, and set a great bench mark for the standard of show gardens for years to come. Gardens such as Brendan Moar’s ‘Suspended’, which won Best in Show, and ‘September Sky’ by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Tom Harfleet were truly imaginative and inspirational and I could hear first-hand from the show-goers that they were blown away by these great gardens.

Working on the limestone walls

Working on the limestone walls

I was lucky enough to also take part in putting an Inspirational Garden together entitled Viridis ‘Green and Blooming’ which was quite the challenge to do in only 6 weeks. I was so lucky to have the support of a great group of individuals led by those at Outdeco and Limestone Australia who presented the garden and also Semken Landscaping which built the garden. Together, we pulled it off to create something really special.

Arranging plants in the vertical gardens

Arranging plants in the vertical gardens

This was matched with an overwhelming amount of support both for the garden at day and at night by those visiting the show and we were very pleased to be awarded a Silver Medal. I felt a real groundswell of support for my vision of translating the design into a Sydney courtyard atmosphere, which is definitely something I was a little apprehensive about, being from Melbourne.

Planting design Phillip Withers

Planting design Phillip Withers

It’s really nice to be able to go from my everyday of designing gardens in Melbourne to adapt and recognise plants suited to a slightly warmer climate. There’s so many plants in our kingdom and so many that will work in a range of conditions. I love to be able to step into different shoes to work with some different shapes and hints of a more daring tropical notion.

Main sitting area in the garden. Design Phillip Withers

Main sitting area in the garden. Design Phillip Withers

The garden changes at night.

The garden changes – lighting by Tida Lighting

One of the real keys I felt was unique to this show and that it should build upon was being open into the evening. It was a special feeling each night at dusk to watch the park slowly bridge into a whole different experience. The lights dimmed, the mood was set and the gardens were brought into change, into excitement. See, I feel having gardens open at night can do more than just create a whole different experience for the viewer. Here we get a chance to create moods within a space, and it lets the gardens become atmospheric and challenging.

With Patrick Blanc

With Patrick Blanc

With Phillip Johnson

With Phillip Johnson

 

With the AGSS team from Semken Landscaping

A great team – with Jym, Dean & Screech from Semken Landscaping and Dave Hill of Tida Lighting

I really believe in this process and I feel it builds an even greater audience to our ‘sport’ of gardens. It means that it’s not just plant enthusiasts and garden lovers who can appreciate a show experience. The wider public can also engage as I feel they started to at this show. They could sit back and enjoy their drink of choice at the Harvest Bar, have a chat to people involved and watch over the show in all its glory.

Great crowds around the garden at the Australian Garden Show Sydney

Great crowds around the garden at the Australian Garden Show Sydney

Receiving a Silver Award - with Dave Hill from Tida Lighting

Receiving a Silver Award – with Dave Hill from Tida Lighting

It’s funny when you become involved in a garden show in its first year. Many wonder how it will go, and there are question marks everywhere – other than from the people that truly believe in it and put everything into it to make it work. So I can’t thank all of these people enough for the opportunity to be a part of creating an event that I feel has a great future and will only get better over the next couple of years. So I sit here leaning back in my chair and step back into reality, I can say that I’m so glad I was involved, and saw the success of the first ‘Australian Garden Show Sydney’ this year.

Many thanks to all my supporters – Semken Landscaping, Outdeco, Limestone Australia, Tida Lighting, Lab de StuPlantmark, Tait Furniture, Vertiscape, Pop Plant, Sir Walter Turf and students from Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE, Ryde Campus.

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Phillip Withers

About Phillip Withers

Phillip started his design through more art based development studying a Diploma in Arts at RMIT. He was then drawn to garden design through garden maintenance and construction, studying a Diploma in Landscape Design and Sustainability at Swinburne University. He started Phillip Withers Landscape Design and has been lucky enough to create 3 show gardens in different forms, from achievable, to student, to professional. He has also taught Computer Aided Design with Kangan Institute and now Swinburne University. Phil is also a keen traveller and believes that it is the key to keeping design interesting…

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