People always ask me what happens to all the materials and plants after we finish exhibiting at a garden show. It’s a great question because it’s another element of planning and design we must take into consideration.
Firstly we design and layout the exhibit to allow for most of the plants to remain in their pots. These plants are returned to growers who have kindly supplied them for free or more often a rent fee that covers cartage, damage and their trouble. Materials are also often supplied by sponsors that do it for either the relationship, the advertising or for cost. A lot of these materials are unable to be returned for sale but with a little consideration at the design stage they can be re-used and recycled by the contractors on their normal projects. Like the designer milk crates (yes, these are a design item now!) from the clever team at Rock Martin Industries, or other items like lights, furniture and screens to name a few can be returned for resale. This year we grew a lot of the plant stock ourselves with the assistance of Footscray City Secondary College in their shade house facilities. As part payment for this half the plants we grew in the shade house stayed there to be planted in their gardens.
Part of the inspiration for the MIFGS design was my own laneway which runs down the side of our house in a bayside Melbourne suburb, so a lot of plants we used came back to revive our local laneway. (I can’t resist planting in Right of Ways and greening up the area I live in – but more on that in another post!!).
The gorgeous bluestone pavers came from and went back to City of Port Phillip Council depot.
And finally, I know you are wondering – what about the great street art of Conrad Bizjak – well you’ll have to get an invite to a BBQ in our backyard to see that!
One thing that is important to me is thinking about the spaces where we live being about more than just what is in our front and back yards. Your own private garden is a great place to start, and people have created some beautiful designs to enhance the outdoor spaces of their homes. But often these gardens are behind high fences that only your family and friends get to see. I like to think of the whole space we live in – our street scapes, footpath, nature strips, laneways and spaces that we can better use and improve. These are spaces we are always using – exercising, taking kids to school, walking our dogs – and maybe we’d be out even more if it there was more to see and enjoy. Some of our older suburbs in Melbourne are lucky to have gorgeous established trees, others are only just starting out, but increasingly people are looking at ways to use and improve the public spaces we share. People are growing and sharing their produce with their neighbours. Rather than chop it down a friend I know has incorporated many of the plants from her neighbour’s yard into her own garden – the plants get love and attention (and produce a huge amount of produce) for both side of the fence! I do love the people behind Pimp Your Pavement http://www.pimpyourpavement.com/ and I would love to see more of that happening here in Australia!
There are things to think about when if you do want to plant in public spaces. You need to know what the local regulations are, consider what your neighbours may want, ensure the space still be accessible and usable. Even when you do all this it doesn’t always go well and a lot of hard work can be destroyed in minutes so be prepared for disappointment. I regularly plant down our local laneway and many of the plants from the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS2016) have been relocated there. I’m also trialling our fantastic Med-O Seeds on our local nature strip. But in the past we’ve had people pick or just tear down our flowers.
Recently I got an email from Jane Miller in Carlton who is also experiencing some roadblocks in her efforts to beautify her local area, along with others locals. Jane has had to move a lane garden she’s been tending to for 12 years as her local Council changed the regulations for planting in a public space. It was too hard to meet the criteria for a ‘Pop Up Garden’, let alone the extra cost.
So I’m not saying this is easy. But I still think it’s worth the effort and we can make it work with a little bit of compromise and consideration on both sides (like my friend and her neighbour!) It’s all about respect people – respecting our environment, the space will live in and the people we share it with. So think about extending your green thumb skills out of your own yard and into the streets you live in.
Go forth. Grow stuff. Everywhere.
Here in Melbourne we love our food and we worship our coffee – so the cafes and restaurants we get them from are very important to us. The food, the décor, and of course the coffee, all score a rating in the overall experience. But for us here at Daniel Tyrrell Landscapes we have one more criteria. The greenery.
We love a café or restaurant that not only has quality food and coffee but a good green vibe. Some cafes we love have their own extensive kitchen gardens, others have potted or hanging herb gardens, and in others the greenery is just for ambiance.
Just like your gardens at home it can be simple or detailed, but we think there’s a few key things to making a good green vibe work in a food venue. Putting thought and planning into the design from the outset is crucial. Like your backyard, you can always tell if a café or restaurant has done the ground work or not. Some places have good functional design but you can tell that any plants or greenery have been added as an after-thought. You can’t just add some plants in pots and think it will work. (and you also shouldn’t be doing this for your yard at home either btw!!) Of course we are a bit bias but design is king. Not only for the aethestics but also to make sure plants are out of the way of patrons and staff, are not in locations that are particularly hard to access for watering.
Take Howler in Brunswick for example, dining in their courtyard is almost like dining in someone’s beautifully designed and landscaped yard. It doesn’t feel like a café/bar at all until the food arrives of course!
Another important part of having good greenery in a café or restaurant is remembering that even if they are an integral part of the décor they will not remain the same. Plants change with seasons, with age and sometimes with their mood. So being prepared to maintain the plants, replant them so they always look good and constantly updating them can be a challenge. A favourite of café ours is Uncommon in Windsor who have achieved this with hanging baskets and fresh product in vases every where. Uncommon not only have fabulous food and coffee, but have been smart about using the clever team at Loose Leaf to design and maintain their greenery. This entrance just wouldn’t be the same without the plants – the atmosphere is as light and fresh as the food.
Of course if you can’t find a café with a garden in it, you can always find a café IN a garden like Jardin Tan at our beloved Botanical Gardens or Cafe Vue out in the wilds of Heide Museum of Modern Art. Cafe Vue’s kitchen is supported by the most incredible kitchen garden – we were out there last week and there was veges aplenty.
And what about cafés in nurseries? Good ones are rare but when we find them they are the ultimate for us. Shopping for garden supplies and plants can be hard work and is not to be rushed so taking your time and boosting your energy with some good food or coffee can be very helpful to the process! Check out the gorgeous environs in Adelaide at the Topiary
And while we think we have some great cafes here in Australia here’s a bit of gorgeousness and inspiration from overseas. This is the newest creation of Copenhagen-based restaurateur Torben Klitbo, Väkst, which immerses diners in “a lush greenhouse experience in the middle of the city.” You can find out more on this café via one of our favourite sites Gardenista Photography courtesy of Cofoco.
So, this is just a few venue that have great food, even better coffee AND a good green vibe. We’d love to hear your favourites!?
You know I have a bit of a book obsession, and thank to Father’s Day I have some great new books in my collection. These books follow up in theme from our Laneway Garden featured at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show this year, and my shift towards a more sustainable long-term approach to garden design and management. More and more I think we are seeking gardens that are easier to maintain over time, not harder, and gardens that find their inspiration in nature. But that doesn’t mean the whole process is easy – landscape design and gardening never is! A hint lies in the title of the books – Cultivating Chaos – How to Enrich Landscapes with Self-seeding Plants by Jonas Reif, Christian Kress and Jurgen Becker, and Natural Garden Style – Gardening Inspired by Nature by Noel Kingsbury.
The opening page of Cultivating Chaos sums up the process rather nicely really .. “Managing a garden that relies on self seeding plants differs greatly from the traditional approach to gardening. It considers planning and maintenance as interlinked and works with nature rather than against it. Dynamic change and chance play important roles in this process, as do the choice of plants and willingness to work with forces that are outside our control.”
There are two main points here – part of having a successful self-seeding garden is in the planning and plant choice. Even with this type of garden it can help to have a professional on board to get started. The second part though is less about professional advice and more about you. It’s about letting go of control and realising a lot will still happen by chance. Self seeding natural style gardens can’t be controlled and moulded to your will. But on the other hand if we leave a garden completely to the forces of nature the results will nearly always be a tangled mess. It will be a compromise.
Noel Kingsbury, writes well on this and notes you have to find the mid-point between romance and realism “No garden is ever really natural. We have to be honest. The nature we want in our garden is s is a refined and tidied up version, preferably one that is pretty and keeps us interested for as much of the year as possible”. He details the process in his book with helpful and practical advice. He also talks about the science behind the process of preparing for a natural garden.
I’m still trying to find the balance myself. Some colleagues and I have developed Medo Seeds a sustainable alternative to lawn verges and open spaces. I’ve also trialled some different plantings in my own lane way and front nature strips, but have to admit my own backyard is still more structured. Who knows with the help from these books I think more and more I will be embracing my wild side!
Because in the end garden design is personal, it’s all about you, what inspires you, what style is ‘you’. So tell us about you. Do you like the natural style of a self seeding garden, some chaos and wilderness, or is it all about clean lines and cool concrete for you?
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