This year I decided to ask one of my clients to open their garden for the Melbourne Garden DesignFest. It was a request I didn’t take lightly; a residential garden is a deeply personal thing. One of the most rewarding aspects of designing residential properties is the deep sense of ownership my clients have for their gardens. Every garden is unique, as is every client, so it really doesn’t matter who else likes the garden.
However, hundreds of strangers walking through this personal space can feel like a gross invasion of privacy and any judgment can be taken as a wonderful vindication or a soul destroying slap in the face.I felt it was important to take the risk and open a garden to share with the public an alternative philosophy of design. A thoughtful garden, where the colour of the paving is selected to keep the garden cool, trees are placed to shade people and not the garden and structure is placed at the back of the bed creating a more relaxed ambiance. A philosophy where it is possible to have a beautifully balanced garden without symmetry or lawn.
I am happy to say the weekend was a wonderful and rewarding experience. Everyone I spoke to enjoyed the tranquility of the garden. Many spent time nutting out the philosophy, working out the how and why of the placement of trees and structure. Late on Sunday afternoon a bus of visitors descended on the garden looking a bit rushed and flustered. The tour leader came up to me apologetically to explain they only had 3 minutes then back on the bus. I am happy to say the group had other plans; they enjoyed the garden so much they continued to quietly soak in the tranquil surroundings and ask questions for over fifteen minutes (I think they missed the next destination!).
I am pleased to say the experience was also rewarding for the owners. Often when you live with something long enough you start to take it for granted, so it was nice for the owners to have a few hundred strangers reinforce how lovely the garden really is!