Last year I ventured up to the Australian Garden Show, Sydney on opening day to see what it was like and to throw some support behind my officemate and friend Phillip Withers, as I had watched him bust himself to have a garden in the ‘Inspirational Garden’ category. This year I am not only venturing up for support. I will be presenting an Inspirational Garden alongside my officemate Phillip Withers, Myles Baldwin, Andrew Fisher Tomlin, Peta Donaldson, Adrian Swain, Christopher Owen and Northern Sydney Institute TAFE.
We are very lucky as garden lovers to have numerous opportunities to view a great variety of gardens throughout the year all over Australia. For a long time we have had Open Gardens Australia, that runs throughout the year and offers access to many different private gardens. For 20 years we have had the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS) held in Carlton Gardens in autumn. Garden DesignFest will be held later in the year in Melbourne for the 6th time – a biennial event which throws the doors open to gardens designed by professionals for real clients. In the last 12 months we have seen a couple of new kids hit the horticultural circuit with the first year of ‘Hidden’, which runs a similar concept to Garden DesignFest of professionally gardens being opened over a weekend in Sydney. On the 4 – 7 September, the Australian Garden Show, Sydney will be held for the second time.
We are about to hit the site to start building a garden for this second Australian Garden Show – Sydney, and I could not be more excited! Yes, I am excited for a road trip. Yes, I am excited for the possibility of some sun, and even escaping the last days of Melbourne’s winter. Most of all I am excited about the opportunity of meeting a whole new bunch of horticulturally minded people and making some new friends. I love doing show gardens. 10 days… finished garden. What’s not to like about that pressure? The anticipation of putting your blood, sweat, tears and creativity out there for the world to see is a mix excitement and stomach twisting anxiety. At the end of the day the garden is a snapshot in time of where you are as a designer, sometimes as a human.
I am looking forward to creating this garden for the Sydney public. Most of them would never have heard of me or Candeo Design. It is also a bit of an opportunity to ‘reset’ for me. I have certainly had fun this year and I feel like this garden reflects the mood I am in as a designer. I am relaxed and happy. The garden is a fun, relaxed setting. I have made this garden pretty easy to build with what is becoming a bit of a signature of mine in the fact there will be a lot of plants going into this project. I just love having foliage around me. The garden is called ‘Cache’ which is a hiding spot. I have even added a very special friend I made in Melbourne at MIFGS this year who is currently making the journey to Sydney. He is pretty slow so we had to send him off earlier than everyone else. ‘Joseph’ the 3m long bronze snail from Willie Wildlife Sculptures will be making an appearance in this garden to add a whimsical side to this garden.
It is an interesting feeling heading to Sydney for the show. Years ago I used to worry about what other designers were going to do. How do I beat them? In recent years I worked out it is not about beating other designers and not even that much about medal colour and awards. It is about creating something that you are proud enough to stand in front of and allow it to spark conversations with people and enjoy where those conversations take you. It is about networking. It’s about making new friends in and out of our industry. Sometimes it’s even about self therapy.
I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in gardens and horticulture to come along to the Brazilian Fields in Centennial Park in Sydney from 4 – 7 of September and support an event that is trying to make its way in a tough market. The knowledge of the people that have been lined up for this show is as good as you will find anywhere in the world. You will have the opportunity to listen to talks, see some amazing gardens and eat ice cream in a park. If you do come along make sure you come and say “Hi” and make us Melbourne kids welcome.