A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to be able to make time to attend the Landscape Design Conference in Melbourne put on by Outlandish Adventures. It was my first time and I was a little apprehensive about attending … firstly I was worried about sitting for an extended period of time 😉 I’m not great at sitting still for too long, I was also a bit concerned that it would be a bit too ….. um designery (I know thats not a word) or too focused on aesthetics for aesthetics sake I guess.
Well I needn’t have worried about that! I thought I was in need of inspiration but in fact what the conference and the talented and passionate speakers provided was more comforting and reassuring.
Everyone spoke to some degree about how important it is for designers to be considering and planning for Environmental Conservation. That we as gardeners have a responsibility to increases biodiversity and habitat and to try to engage with the community at large in educating and engaging everyone to care about our natural world. Right up my alley 😉

I scribbled many quotes and was moved by all the speakers in some way. Therefore this post is just going to be an acknowledgement to those involved who are doing such important work whilst wearing their hearts on their sleeves and constantly challenging and questioning themselves about how their work contributes to the bigger picture.

Teresea Moller a Landscape Architect from Chile had many words of wisdom but these particularly struck a chord;

“Aesthetics is not enough anymore”

“It is difficult to find harmony when we do more than what is needed”

The slide above is from Georgina Reid from Wonderground, who spoke on Sunday morning and brought tears to everyones eyes, she is an incredible story teller and we are very lucky to have her working here in Australia. Her deeply curious nature and sensitivity never cease to amaze me and so often she puts into words sentiments which have been dwelling in the back of my mind for years. She cares so deeply it is contagious, and I always feel less alone after listening to her thoughts on everything to do with Nature, Conservation and being Human. She called the Conference a “Congress of Cultivators” genius!

We need to stop “Bullying Land into Conspicuous Consumption” and “Awe is a practice” which needs to be cultivated.

There of course were hidden gems in everyones presentation, mentions like “long grass kissing your ankles as you walk past” Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter Trust Gardens was delightful with his story of turning a quintessential English Heritage Garden into something more … filled with diversity, wildlife and high in conservation value, stating we need to “loosen up aesthetically” and horticulture and ecology need to begin to evolve together.

Professor Andrew Campbell spoke about the importance of “Planning for variance and extremes, not the norms” when it comes to living in the Landscape in Australia, and putting a call out for new kinds of professionals who will be need to be skilled in many areas most of which will be gained outside the University, he also wants schools to be have Landcare study included in the curriculum, because if we aren’t raising our children with environmental and conservation awareness, as they are the ones who are going to inherit this mess.

And Julian Raxworthy who presented so clearly the idea “Maintenance as a creative force” amongst other things, where the maintenance of a garden is actually where the “design” part happens, this is something I have been mulling over for a while.

Then there was Sean Hogan from Cistus Design Nursery, who spoke about the native plants of Oregan USA using the same language I use for our Australian native plants with the same passion “Summer deep grass, silver greys and tawny grasses is where I belong” I hear you Sean!

There are plenty of others who I haven’t managed to mention here, but what a wonderful three days, it was so nice to be surrounded by like minded people who share your values and beliefs. I have included an image of the bushland outside the train window on my way home as the header to this post, it opened my eyes again to the beauty which surrounds me everyday where I live and I have been encouraged to simply continue with my little blog posts and native gardens.

In this post I have included plenty of images of the Melbourne city tour I did with City ArchitectProfessor Rob Adams, where 80 hectares of green space has been built since 1985, making Melbourne city  truly more liveable, what an amazing vision.