This year we decided to do something different with our show garden and tie it in with a cause supporting people with mood disorders and anxiety. We joined forces with the Black Dog institute and discovered when talking to people at the Institute that getting outside in the sun and air and gardening can be very healing. The inspiration for ‘Reflections’ was the journey that people with mood disorders go through. The garden is a good place to convey the message and tell a story, there’s a journey of healing in the Garden At the show many people came and shared their own experiences, it was very surprising and positive. The ‘Reflections’ garden is a calming relaxing place. We wanted to evoke calming emotions and achieved this through design smooth colours. The big roof overhead was made of soft timbers reinforcing smoothness and suggesting an embrace. There are deliberately two chairs in the garden making it a place to sit and talk. There is also a romance element of communication where people can reconnect after a relationship breakdown. The sculpture we used is called The Lovers symbolising this garden as a place for couples to reunite and heal existing relationships. The use of bright red Bromeliad conveys passion. And the planting in general is all smooth, calming foliage with a lush, relaxing subtropical holiday theme.
What is the importance of the products and partner companies you used within the ’Reflections’ garden?
The success of show gardens is dependent on the support of different companies involved and all the companies working with us this year were great. Eco Outdoors has partnered with us for six show gardens. They are very in touch with how best to utilise and customise products for the landscape industry. Eco Outdoors are also open to all ideas and have quality products .Lighting in the garden was also pretty important and not just for the mood. We used LED lighting from ME Lighting. The advancement in LED lighting has been very rapid over the last 4-5 years. Ten years ago it wasn’t as widely accepted by clients so it was risky to use on jobs. But now the benefits are widely accepted – low on emissions, doesn’t attract insects and cool to the touch so kids don’t burn themselves, also power saving.
Do you enjoy MIFGS and was there stiff competition this year?
I do enjoy show gardens but they are a costly thing to do. I hope in the future more sponsors will get involved to help people. MIFGS is a great cutting edge show and a great place to test the market. A show garden is the only place a designer can go other than his own home where he can design and use what he wants. It’s an unusual opportunity, the flowers are packed in like a florist display. The standard was very high this year .In the past poor economy has had an impact .But this year everyone stepped up to make MIFGS Australia’s premier Flower Show. You have been fortunate enough to win awards at the Chelsea Flower Show.
How important do you think Australian landscape design is internationally?
It is important to do shows abroad and Chelsea Flower Show is an institution. The standard of excellence is outstanding. But I was surprised this year how much I loved Melbourne, it’s quite different to Chelsea, much more cutting edge. As much as I love travelling overseas it’s a good opportunity to redress the balance by designing a show garden for MIFGS. If I do go back to Chelsea I’ll go back fully sponsored as it’s so expensive it can make or break a company. We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that there are great shows in Australia like Melbourne which are great designer places.
You began your company at 19 –how has the landscaping industry changed over the years and is this good or bad?
These days landscape designers are a lot more relevant to the building industry than when I started nearly 17 years ago. Architecture has changed, now you open your doors to an alfresco area. Landscaping is responding to architecture and hopefully we’ve in turn helped architecture to expand. People are a lot more accepting of those changes. Real estate agents very much sell this outdoor living lifestyle. The only negative is from a business point not an industry perspective. Unlike when I began the company we are very much over governed with increasing rules and regulations and safety regulations. It makes it tough for everyone in the sector. Many of Rolling Stone Landscapes’ projects focus on the high end prestige residential end of the market. What tips do you have for average Australian to take your design ideas and implement them in smaller gardens on a budget? In any large scale garden the usability of the garden is essential. This is the same in smaller gardens of any size and budget. Spaces should be functional for the amount of people who will use them. Using the right amount of plants and materials is important. Product material is important. Although products and materials differ from high end builds to smaller gardens the design principles are exactly the same - look at who uses the space and what you do with it. When I meet clients I ask them how they’ll use the space and if I think they can use it in extra ways I’ll tell them. For smaller gardens if you see a design in a magazine think about how you’re going to use your garden and your space before you begin.
Photocaptions: Dean Herald, Managing Director Rolling Stone Landscapes; Rolling Stone Landscapes MIFGS award-winning garden 'Reflections'.
For more information visit: www.rollingstonelandscapes.com.au