Alejandro O'NeillMy garden from Uruguay: Japan Garden Show 2015

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.

Alejandro O'Neill in his Uruguay entry at the Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

Alejandro O’Neill in his Uruguay entry at the Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

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.

Design Alejandro O'Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

Design Alejandro O’Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

Design Alejandro O'Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

Design Alejandro O’Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

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.

Design Alejandro O'Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

Design Alejandro O’Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

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.

Design Alejandro O'Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

Design Alejandro O’Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

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.

Design Alejandro O'Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

Design Alejandro O’Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

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.

Design Alejandro O'Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

Design Alejandro O’Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

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.

Design Alejandro O'Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

Design Alejandro O’Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

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.

Design Alejandro O'Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

Design Alejandro O’Neill Uruguay entry in Japan World Flower and Garden Show 2015

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.

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Alejandro O'Neill

About Alejandro O'Neill

I am a freelance landscape designer originally trained in Uruguay, where I developed a strong passion for naturalistic designs that are based on the principles of native plants, ecology and sustainability. Since coming to the UK, I have applied these principles working in an urban setting and focussing strongly on public spaces and community empowerment.

2 thoughts on “My garden from Uruguay: Japan Garden Show 2015

  1. Carol Griesser on said:

    I love your stone walls and Mediterranean gardens, Alejandro! It is the first time I hear from a Uruguayan landscaper and competing in a prestigious International Show like Japan’s!
    My heart felt congatulations to you!
    From a garden lover Uruguayan, in Sydney-Australia.

    Regards
    Carol

    • Alejandro on said:

      Hi Carol!

      Thank you for your nice comments! You are right, it was a great experience working in Japan…

      Best wishes

      Ale

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