How to beat colour anxiety – white it out

Quite often I have someone admit to me that they suffer from what I’d call ‘garden colour anxiety’. They’ll take me into their confidence and whisper that trying to work out a colour scheme for their garden makes them as anxious as a visit to the dentist. Which is sad because mucking around with anything garden-related is surely meant to be fun? Continue reading

Australian gardening inspiration from South Africa

To me, the essence of Australia is deep blue skies stretching as far as the eye can see; rich red soils bearing dry, oxidized iron; the distinctive blue-green foliage of Eucalyptus set amongst twisting, mottled-grey limbs; perhaps a small family of roos tucking into soft, long grass in its dappled shade. Nowhere else on earth will you come across a scene like this. Continue reading

Melbourne Flower Show matters – or does it?

In late March 2017 I, and many of Australia’s horticultural media, landscape designers, landscapers, horticulturists and garden lovers, made our annual pilgrimage of to the autumn Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS). With nine big display gardens, five boutique gardens and 12 small student-built achievable gardens on show, I was eager to see what was on offer at MIFGS in 2017 and who had won what. Continue reading

Does an Australian garden style exist?

Does an Australian garden style exist? In the post WW11 years some of our now most revered garden designers rebelled against imported garden design traditions and experimented with creating a nature based Australian style. Ellis Stones and Gordon Ford from Victoria and Jean and Betty Maloney from NSW created unique interpretations of an Australian Style garden replicating the Australian landscape by utilizing rocks, water and the Australian bush. Continue reading

Berber home and garden, Morocco

East of Marrakech, over Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, a desert landscape riddled with spectacular gorges and valleys presides. At the time of my visit in November, snow-capped peaks rendered this ancient land of Berbers even more panoramic. In their pink and red-hued villages, built so clearly from the earth right there, dwell a truly hospitable people. I had the good fortune to visit the home and garden of one Berber family. Continue reading

Giving two rooms their view

It rains a lot in the west of Scotland. It’s often too soggy to be out in the garden, so it’s important to have something attractive to look at from inside the house. We spend most of our indoor time in our kitchen and adjoining living room/dining room, which are both west-facing. Continue reading

We need to talk about concrete

Did you know that the environmental impacts of concrete are out of control and that the worldwide consumption of concrete is on its way to being four times greater in 2050 than it was in 1990? Did you also know that concrete is the most widely used material on earth? Continue reading

Review: ‘Dream Gardens’ on ABC TV

When I first heard that someone was going to make a new Australian TV show about gardening, I was amazed. Then excited. Then cynicism started to creep in. Would it be another quickie makeover show? A dumbed-down ‘reality’ show filled with manufactured drama? Then I heard Michael McCoy was the presenter and I breathed a great sigh of relief because I knew he wouldn’t have anything to do with either of those. Continue reading

Greenwall success needs long-term commitment

At this time of the year, my clients are coming back from their holidays filled with inspiration and ideas for their garden. Every few years a new theme for requested inclusions starts to emerge. Not that long ago it was water features, however more recently the most requested inclusions are for green walls. Continue reading

Book review – Planting Dreams: Shaping Australian Gardens

“A garden should be just a little too big to keep the whole cultivated. Then it gives it a chance to go a little wild in spots”.

Edna Walling’s charming observation, featured on the back cover of Richard Aitken’s Planting Dreams: Shaping Australian Gardens is a fitting analogy for the scope of this handsome new book, published to coincide with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney’s 200th birthday celebrations. Not that Aitken’s book focusses particularly on the RBGS. In fact it’s somewhat challenging to pin down the purpose of this intriguing work. Continue reading

Exploring Koishikawa Kōrakuen, Tokyo’s Edo-period stroll garden

While the weather in Sydney has been really heating up, I’ve escaped to a cooler side of the world to do something I’ve yearned to do for a while now – see Kyoto’s autumn colour! Some connoisseurs say that autumn is even more beautiful than spring, but when I lived in Japan for 6 months a few years ago, I had to make a choice and spring won. But now I’m back with a vengeance! Raa! Continue reading