Category Archive: Gardens

Cup Day at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

By James Wall.

What do you tell your children on your day off that you want to walk around the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne ?

You tell them we are going on a photographic assignment of course. One child gets the camera for half an hour and then the other child gets its for the next half an hour. When we get home, we have a slide show and see just what sort of pictures we have taken.

Yep, they liked the idea, so before they could change there mind we were in the car and on our way.

The weather was perfect and it was mid morning so there was still parking. The gardens had a real buzz about it. It reminded me of the first spring day at Central Park in New York. People were just bursting with energy to get out there. With Melbourne Cup on, there were somewhat annoying helicopters buzzing about the air like giant blow flies, but even these could not destroy the subtle euphoria that was in the air. It was a day to bump into an old friend out of the blue. It was a day to appreciate nature.

At some stage during the photography, a kids flick of the camera dial accidentally took 4 photos of everything, but with 3 of the photos being altered with special effects. I guess some of the greatest human creations were made by accident. Below are some of the results to our day out at the Botanic Gardens.

By the way, the cafe was excellent, the kids area was rocking with little boats running down the creek, the trees were ever majestic, so if you haven’t been to this wonderful place in a while, like I hadn’t, make sure you get down there soon – cause photos can never tell the full story.



The Yuyuan Gardens in the Old City of Shanghai.

Yuyuan Gardens

By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs.

Throughout my travels around China I had the opportunity to see a lot of different attractions and only a few gardens. Out of all the gardens I had the chance to visit this was by far my favourite and left me feeling the most impressed. This garden is beautifully landscaped with man-made hills that flow naturally into the scenery and has a great diversity of plants.

300 Year Old Wisteria

The Yuyuan Gardens are located in the Old City of Shanghai. As you wonder through these gardens there are many unique artistic styles to discover from the paintings to the placement of plants. I found myself excited to discover what may lie around every corner!

Yuyuan Gardens was first constructed during the Ming Dynasty, 1559, by Pan Yunduan. He wanted to build a garden for his father to comfort him in his old age. But the construction of the gardens was postponed for 18 years until 1577, due to Pan Yunduan being appointed as the new Governor of Sichuan.

Lotus plants.

Once the gardens were complete they were the most prestigious and largest gardens of their era in Shanghai. However, due to the expenses of the gardens the Pan family eventually fell to ruins. The Pan family was unable to keep up with the expenses of the gardens, so the gardens were passed on to new owners.

In the 19th century the gardens suffered damage from the First Opium War and the Taiping Rebellion, with almost all of the original structures completely destroyed. From 1956 – 1961 the gardens were repaired by the Shanghai Government, and were reopened to the public.

If you find yourself traveling to Shanghai in the near future I would highly recommend that you visit the Yuyuan Gardens. I only got to spend about an hour seeing these gardens but I would recommend spending a bit more time to absorb the beauty of this landscape.

Australian designer awarded medal at Chelsea.

For those without pay television, you may never have heard of Charlie Albone. He is a Sydney based Landscape Designer who is also one of the hosts of a TV show called Selling Houses Australia. Basically they do up a house, and his job is to fix up the garden – on a budget.

This time in real life however, this garden was on a different kind of budget! Charlie went to the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show and created a stunning little garden called, ‘The Time In Between’. His design as a space to tell his late father about his life since his passing. It is a space to reflect, contemplate, celebrate and enjoy life. His father died when he was 17.

The garden was awarded a Silver Gilt medal which is just one down from a gold. As you can see by these photos from the Royal Horticultural Society, the standard of workmanship and quality of plants in this garden were absolutely top quality and reinforces the exceptional standards that Australians set when they enter The Chelsea Flower Show.

The first section of the garden celebrates life with beautiful and romantic planting; the water feature in the next section reflects the emotions felt at the loss of someone close, as it can empty in a matter of seconds; and the rear of the garden is an intimate space to sit, connect and communicate with loved ones. The flowers include white aquilegia, purple iris and purple balls of allium or a flowering type of onion which look magnificent.

Although Charlie is an aussie now (we’ll claim him after this for sure) he actually was born in Hong Kong, Charlie and then moved to the UK when he was 12 years old. It was here that he developed a keen interest in landscapes and gardens. On leaving school, he landed a job maintaining the grounds of an English country manor. With no formal qualifications, he learnt on the job and worked for many UK landscaping companies before coming to Australia on a working holiday 12 years ago. He fell in love with the country and decided to further his education by gaining a Diploma In Horticulture And Landscape Design.

Congratulations Charlie. See his garden at the Chelsea website, or his own website Charlie at Chelsea.

photo copyright by kuva


By James Wall.

It was with admiration for the level of participation in the creation of  what was standing before me. There were five days until the Garden Show started and lots of people were involved in getting it ready. These included the lads from Avoca Landscape Construction who were halfway through the mock bridge (I say mock bridge because there was to be no water under it, but Dichondra repens planted to look like water). A Semken staffer was pushing a wheelbarrow almost ‘walking the plank’ to get from one high point to another, and there were plants ready to be positioned in the space beside us. Carolyn Blackman from Vivid Design was forging on and all was good because apparently we were ahead of schedule; but who really knew what lay ahead…..These are the thoughts that go through your mind when building a show garden. By the time it is built, you clearly see all of its imperfections. You are intimate with it, and sometimes it can be your little place in heaven, but other times your nightmare. Everything you ever planned leading up to this project, is now being tested to the hilt. There are still a few magic tricks up your sleeve, but there is also reality.

……and the reality is, that some of the general public may say “it does nothing for me” whereas others and hopefully the majority say, “it’s beautiful, job well done”. None of them see it like you do, missing at least some of the imperfections that you deep down in your heart know are there, and must admit that are there cause if you don’t, a smart judge will tell you why you lost marks…..

It’s the first day of a 5 day show and already you have had to do some maintenance, just when your media commitments are kicking in. Mmmm great timing, but alas, there is one other thing you know for sure, and that is by 5pm Sunday, your show garden will no longer exist. Hope you got some good photos, cause it will be over.So I guess however it turns out, you are best to enjoy your little garden. Its a very small window of time, so let your garden be what it was, a manicured fantasy, a miniscule piece of paradise, a love of plants, a good design. Be at peace with your garden, cause now it is gone

Student gardens at the 2015 Melbourne Flower Show

By James Wall.

Avenue Of Achievable Gardens.

You can always find a little bit of inspiration in the student gardens and this year the standard was set very high. Never have I seen so much creation, new school thinking and good use of plants. One day some of these horticultural and design students will be the industry trend setters. One of them may be a true gem.

After talking to a couple of the students I realised that they are just as motivated and excited about the industry as I hope I was at that age.

Here are some of the best of the 2015 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show student gardens. Thanks go to the major sponsor Debco.

Grounding - Benjamin Taylor - University Of Melbourne

Rousseau's Jungle - Heather Forward University Of Melbourne

Urban Oasis - Veronica Bosque, Clare Mesenberg, Jo Zorzi - Holmesglen Institute

Nicola Muston - Holmesglen Institiute

The Pollinator Partner - Rebecca Bennett - Swinburne Universty Of Technology

Green Haven - Andrew Genovese - Melbourne Polytechnic

The Crossroads - Ben Newell - Swinburne University of Technology

The Wilde Side - Sonja Van Nieuwenhoven, Elise Northover, Katya Hamniuk, Ellen Davies

Gardenworld at 2015 Melbourne Flower Show

By James Wall

We are proud to once again be involved in the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show which starts today and goes until Sunday.

Here are some of the things Gardenworld have been up to:

Candeo Design – The Bronzed Brolga

Brent Reid – Candeo Design. Brent runs his company out of the Design Studio here at Gardenworld. He has been commissioned by the Northern Territitory Government to build a site to promote Tourism NT. The garden is called ‘The Bronzed Brolga’ and includes an amazing pond and a beautiful stone wall. Construction is by Semken Landscaping and the plant list includes 5 Phoenix roebelenii palms borrowed from Gardenworld Nursery. These wonderous specimens are over 30 years old and were grown in Brisbane and shipped down to the nursery. Very rare plants indeed. Brent’s garden received a Bronze Medal.

Phillip Withers Landscape Design – ‘Food Forest’

Phillip Withers Landscape Design – ‘Food Forest’ – Phillip also runs his business out of the design studio at Gardenworld. This quirky design celebrates the fusion of food plants and style in a home garden. There is something here for everyone. There is a fully fruiting persimmon tree that many visitors to the show will never have seen growing before. Phillip’s garden received a Silver medal and also took out the Honda Sustainabilty award for the second year running. Special thanks must go to Semken Landscaping for construction and Outdeco garden screens which looked sensational painted in Phil’s latest colour palette. These screens are available to buy at Lotus Watergardens at Gardenworld. – ‘Resonate’

LocalNurseries – ‘Resonate’
Designed by Vivid Design and construction by Semken Landscaping
A retro styled garden with dramatic undulations. This garden was awarded a Gold Medal.

Gardenworld Nursery is proud to be a member of the Local Nurseries group. We are retail nurseries based in Melbourne and Geelong that work together in sourcing the best plants and aim to have the best garden centres we can. If you want your local nursery to be around in 20 years, don’t just go to the big chain stores – come and meet the horticultural experts who love their plants and care about your garden.

 Competition – Guess the weight of this pumpkin

Gardenworld is offering a $150 gift voucher for whoever guesses the correct weight of this giant Atlantic pumpkin. The pumpkin is on display at the Royal Horticultural Society and their Great Hanging Basket Competition. Just look for the hundreds of hanging baskets. We believe this pumpkin may weigh over 200 kg !

Thankyou to the efforts of hundrerds of people, including Gardenworld staff and suppliers, without which this show would not be possible.

A modern Highett garden.

By James Wall

Was lucky enough to visit two gardens in the 2014 Garden Design Fest and this garden in a Melbourne suburb called Highett was one of them.

It was designed by Stephen Read. I found it to be a very refreshing garden and it reinforced some old ideas and introduced some new.

The use of bollards might be an old idea, but it was executed with perfection. The curve of the structures and the simplicity of the planting of Bearberry Cotoneaster dammeri that surround the solitary Cypress, and common plant in this suburbia. The house seems protected yet at the same time open to the world around it.

But what really hits you in the face as you walk in is this stunning wall of Boston Ivy intertwined with Chinese Star Jasmine. In this spring November garden, it was peaking.

This Chinese Star Jasmine by itself looked pretty good too ! And further in behind the bollards was a nice sitting area surrounder by a ‘wonderful’ Pomegranate hedge with Feather reed grass. Hmmm what a good idea. I could imagine mum out here on the ipad, just getting away for a bit of wireless online shopping.

Another fence covered spectacularly but this time with Boston Ivy and Silver Vein Creeper, another one of the Parthenocissus species and another stunning blending of varieties.

Heading down the side of the house, note the red bricks drawing you along what is a very narrow path, but which allows for a nice wide vegetable garden, sensibly designed on the north side of the block. Incorporating terracotta pots into the actual garden, creates a really nice effect, especially with some blue lobelia added for colour.

At this point you reach the backyard. In between the paving is three poignant olive trees and pencil pines adorn the main bed. They are surround by Salvia and Rudbeckia. There appear to be more pomegranate along the back fence, but this is still a young planting and the garden hasn’t yet fully pronounced its full coming.

From there, the things that really impressed me were the differing levels of the ground and the way decking and garden had been incorporated. Nothing was too overdone, but there was just so much there to take in. I am sure the proud owners spend hours siting out there with a paper, occasionally peering up to watch it grow.

A fig tree which will one day shade the house and provide food for the family in just a month or so’s time. A great place to end this little tour. I hope you enjoyed this garden as much as i did. Its simplicity in the front, flowed through to a more complex back yard, that in about 5 years time would have me really curious in seeing. I left this garden content. I wanted to go around each next corner….yes it really dragged me in. It is a privilege for both the designer and owner to let us see it. Next time you hear about an open garden, why don’t you just drop by for a little bit of inspiration….and a little bit of joy. 

Stephen Read Landscape Design website.

Garden Design Fest website.

A coastal Mt Eliza garden.

By Milli Wall.

Yesterday I visited a beautiful open garden in Mount Eliza called Earimil Gardens, a privately owned and independently displayed coastal garden rambling over 3 hectares located on a steep cliff block. Many mature trees protect the gardens exposed position and provide shade in a mostly sun drenched space. Admire sweeping views of surrounding land from a jutting viewing platform – once a helicopter landing pad.

Elaine, the owner of the property at in Mount Eliza, invites the public into her gardens for a $10 entry fee going to charity (children free) When I arrive I find Elaine talking to a group of visitors. She is obviously enjoying the experience of sharing her wonderful gardens. I can see she and her helpers have taken care to put on a terrific day, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, an acoustic guitarist plays to several groups enjoying picnic lunches on the lawns. Many inspired noises can be heard from people as they make notes to apply to their own gardens.

My kids enjoy finding all the Australian wildlife sculptures tucked away in the gardens but to me the flower beds are the highlight of this garden; providing the visitor with delightful layers of prolific colour. Thought has been put into the smallest details, from nasturtiums and erigeron encouraged to grow randomly through a fence to grand bay views framed through magnificent cascading rose and clematis vines in full bloom. Breath taking, a delightful chaotic wildness is tempered by someone’s loving attention to detail, not a weed or a dead flower to be found.

When Elaine decides to open her delightful garden again I highly recommend a visit.

Australian Garden Show – Sydney 2014

It’s been a busy month or so leading up to the Australian Garden Show Sydney (AGSS), with 3 designers located in the Landscape Design Studio at Gardenworld making the journey to Sydney to complete 3 individual gardens for the Australian Garden Show Sydney.

Brent Reid and Kim Earl from Candeo Design and Phillip Withers of Phillip Withers Landscape Design are now back in the studio creating gardens all whilst coming down from the excitement of winning 2 Bronze Medals, a Gold Medal and ‘Best Balcony Garden’ at the show.

Phillip Withers put together an absolute gem called ‘My Island Home’, featuring a timber beach hut and a waved and curving bridge surrounded by tall palms and colourful succulents which mimicked the Great Barrier Reef. You could have imagined being on a beach anywhere in the world as the garden transported you to a place of relaxation.

Brent Reid created a hiding spot with ‘Cache’, a stunning garden in which you could retreat from the world and slow down the pace of life. A giant Bronze snail called Joseph hid in the textural planting and added character to the garden while a steel arched arbour created a sense of intimacy. It really was an escape from the world with a bit of fun giving it a light hearted and joyous feeling.

Kim Earl’s balcony garden was aimed to entice people living in high population residential areas to look at their outdoor space in a new light. Planting on differing levels showed how you could create a garden on a balcony and cantilevered bar turned the space into a usable area. Reinvesting in green spaces within the cities was paramount, and what’s an outdoor area if not complete by being able to enjoy it.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t ideal however the growth from last year’s show (the augural year) to this year was amazing. AGSS had more gardens and stall holders than the previous year and the infrastructures put into place to assist people getting to the show were unfaultable.

Watch out for next year’s show, if this year was anything to go by it’s going to be a cracker!

Just a nice little garden.

By James Wall

My sister and her family have just sold their house, and I have always liked what they have done with their front garden.

Of course they had a little bit of help with landscape design from Carolyn and Joby Blackman of Vivid Design, the people that also did the gold winning Gardener’s Library at this years Melbourne Flower Show.

What I like about this garden is that it takes the principle that many front gardens are not really a living space, but an expression of the people and the house that reside on that block of land. It is also a practical garden, in that there did need to be a function, and that was to get to the side gate. The expression of the stepping stones is similar to the plants – not rigid and formal in its straightness, but almost indiscriminate yet with some sort of order the way it is grouped.

 It is a fun and arty garden, but it is not over the top.

Since the design, the plant palette has of course evolved, as most good gardens do. The hero kangaroo paws were once something else. The clipped english box create the balls of green, and the silver of the wormwood creates structure and colour contrast. The dianaella is the grassy and hardy tufts of green, and the other grassy plant but with soft pink flowers are the also extremely hardy Tulbaghia. The hero for me though, is that creeping thyme. Its wonderful ground hugging effect draws the whole garden together, including the interesting textures of gravel, rock and stepping stone.

A simple but in some ways complicated garden…. I guess that sums up life.

Starting from a design basis from which to build upon has rewarded this garden. It shows the value of good design. 

Gardenworld introductory landscape design service.

Vivid Design website.

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