On Thursday night I went to a book launch, and on Friday morning I was still feeling on a bit of a high. Who would think that a book launch would be able to leave you feeling uplifted on the following day? Well, this one did! It was Jamie Durie presenting his latest book called 100 Gardens, showcasing 50 new gardens and another 50 that had been seen in his earlier publications.
Jamie was an energetic, enthusiastic and entertaining host. During the evening as images of his gardens were being shown, he explained some of the principles of his design practice, such as making the outdoors as liveable as the interior of the house. He’s creating outdoor kitchens, living rooms and even bathrooms in the garden.
None of this is really new to Australian gardeners, but it’s probably a revelation to many gardeners overseas. As you know, Australians cook, eat and entertain outside and many West Australians try to recreate the outdoor bathrooms of their Bali holidays in their own gardens. I was very tempted to do that myself at one stage, or at least have an outdoor bath, particularly after the plumber accidentally connected the hot water to the garden tap! But in the end I didn’t have room for a bath out there, so I’ll have to leave that to others.
Other things that Jamie likes to do in his gardens are incorporate changes in levels to add more interest. He also likes to screen off part of the garden to create some intrigue and to draw people further into the garden. That’s one of his real skills – to make the outdoor area so inviting that people really want to use it as much as they can.
At the end of his talk there was question time, and he was very generous with his answers,and there was even a public participation segment which was great fun – but I won’t tell you about that as I think he’s going on to launch his book in other capitals around Australia. That can be his surprise!
Part of the proceeds from the launch were going to the Make a Difference Foundation, and I’m sure the two sponsors, Ridges Hotels and Boffins Bookshop were really happy with the outcome. Everyone who went to the event had a fantastic time.
When I got home I checked out my new purchase – of course I couldn’t leave without getting a signed book. 100 Gardens is mainly photographs of gardens although at the back of the book, there’s a little description of each garden, highlighting one main feature. I noticed that in a lot of the gardens he doesn’t have the dining area close to the house; it’s away from the house and you have to go through the garden to get to the dining area.
Most of the gardens featured are in California and Australia, with the Australian ones mainly in NSW and Victoria. Although I did think that some of the most imaginative and creative gardens shown were in Japan and New Zealand. They were just that little bit different. It’s quite easy to see the difference between the Californian gardens and the Australian ones. The Californian gardens have a lot more vegetation and they’re more relaxed and a little bit more eclectic, possibly reflecting the personalities of their owners. The Australian gardens tend to be neater and tidier with less of the owner’s personality, with some of them even looking more like set designs. I guess that’s because many of his earlier gardens came from his popular TV program, and his American clients are asking for different things, so his gardens have evolved. Anyway, now I’m back at work, I’m going to make sure that I design gardens that really make a difference to my clients, that really get them outdoors and enjoying the garden that’s been created.