At last week’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in the UK, another Australian-designed garden triumphed with Gold and a ‘Best in Show’.
Designed by Jim Fogarty for the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, ‘Essence of Australia‘ is a distillation of Northern Territory and Victorian natural landscapes. Not an easy marriage in some respects given their stark climate differences, but Fogarty has skilfully woven together a tapestry of rich red earth, dark reflective billabongs, pretty flowers and modern Melbourne-style architecture.
A pale timber boardwalk is edged in bright red, with colour echoes in many of the indigenous flowers such as grevillea, eremophila and kangaroo paw. Fresh greens and dusty blue foliage contrast with the orange-red sands.
Fogarty’s design shows how best to use Australian plants in a garden. Because many of them have quite fine leaf texture and small flowers, they work best when contrasted with strong lines and mass created from built elements, like the board walk, the amoebic shapes of the dark water, and the large timber pavilion.
The garden was built by Landform Constructions and planted out over 9 days by Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff as well as horticulture volunteers. Several of the plants are used in Aboriginal culture for food, ceremony and medicine.
In true Tim Entwisle style, the story of the garden includes references to
“a grass tree nearly as old as the 500-year-old Hampton Court Palace next door, emu bushes that stop flatulence in sheep and a twitter-triggered ripple in our Gardiner Creek-coloured billabong.”
”Essence of Australia was funded by a partnership between Tourism Victoria, Tourism Northern Territory, Qantas and leading UK tour operator Trailfinders.