Uruguay, like Australia, is a very young country. Most of our culture is inherited from other places. For us it is predominantly Spain and Italy. This is highly reflected in the landscape and in gardens. Most of the people use Mediterranean plants usually shrubs and trees without handling or managing the use of wildflower, perennials or herbaceous plants that are native to Uruguay.
Most of the people use European trees and shrubs as the basis for their gardens. Slowly we are getting more awareness of our amazing native flora which is not only adapted to the conditions, it have great ornamental and medicinal properties and they attract lots of birds and other wildlife.
My design for the Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015 represented the balance between both influences native and exotic. In the upper part you can see a reproduction of native woodlands and prairies.
When you go down you can smell the Mediterranean flavour of rosemary, Helichrysum, Oregano and salvias. The materials that I chose are as natural as possible and ones that you can find in both places.
My aim as a landscape designer would be to protect our endangered flora as much as possible and to get more people to realise that Uruguay is filled with wonderful nature and we don’t need to look outside for inspiration.
Our own nature is a garden. I want the new designers to start demanding that the nurseries propagate our native plants. That is where it starts.
My favourite part of my experience at the garden show has been getting into the culture, and working with people in Japan. I stayed in my contractor’s house for 3 days and 3 nights and they treated me like family, took me to their schools and families events, and the hot springs. I was part of the family. Going round in nursery and seeing how people produce plants in other parts of the world was also a highlight. But definitely the relationships were the most important part of the garden show.
There’s also been a lot to learn here as the Japanese are very skilful people in particular techniques. I would like to learn more about the philosophy behind design of Japanese gardens. Stone work in particular and placement, impact and image.
So I would do a show garden like this again? Anywhere…if my situation allows it. Through my time in Japan I have learned to be more flexible and to respect other ways of seeing things. I had a vision from the start of how my garden was going to look but I had to be fluid and make the best with the team to translate my garden.