Monday, 20 June 2016

Relationships of a Gold Medal Chelsea show Garden.


As you analyse a Chelsea show garden, strip away the glamour and listen for the deeper stories of the relationships that are being told.

I have just finished working for Designer James Basson and his team, for the L’Occitane garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.

When I speak about relationships sure, I am talking about my relationships with people, and the joy that the people bring. Although, it is also far deeper than this. The relationships with plants and the way in which the plants connect with you and the landscape, enhances the importance of the garden.

For it is these types of relations that transport the visitors to France, it is these interactions that evoke emotional attachments to the garden. It is here where you will capture a moment of delight.

Lavender fields on the edges of the garden 

This is my 3rd Chelsea flower show and 3rd time helping James put together show gardens. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to learn hands on from such an amazing group of people.

James put together a worldly team for this years show, all wanting to help create a garden from the region of Provence, in the South of France. We came from New Zealand, Scotland, France, Italy. Also America, Barbados and Spain. Not to forget myself from Australia and the locals from England!

James Basson, Peter Dowle, Ange Dowle, Kate Grace, Xanthe White, Bruno Torini, Helen Basson

Helping with the planting and details on the garden opens new ways to think about relationships. James has an incredible eye for looking at the landscape and bringing it into his designs and encouraging people to interact with it.
He has taught me to delve deeper into this, to critically analyse the relationships that the plants have with the hard materials, the topography, and therefore the soil.
Dry embankment 

The critical relationships the plants have with the sun that is either shining down in full force, or being hidden by the dense woodland in front. He has taught me to consider the way the water falls, to continue to make the landscape one can read, constantly asking yourself how will this react with that?

The story of the landscape is told by all who work on this garden, and each with their own tale to tell. This is essential to creating a unique garden that is woven with diverse personalities.

The relationships of the planting is intricate and purposeful, it is restricted yet free. The aesthetics of the planting is dictated by these relationships and when there is harmony the garden will sing.

Now, that the final rush of the details is over- before the judges arrive, and the garden has come to an end. It will begin to tell the tales of the many hands that came together to bring it to life.

Happy days !

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Singapore Work Experience and Garden Festival 2014

After spending time in the UK, Europe and also Indonesia I learnt a lot about myself. I had more confidence flying to Singapore, and I knew that I was going to make the most of everything that was thrown at me. 
My first day in Singapore was at Ong and Ong Architects –see their webpage at  This firm incorporates Architecture, Interior design and Landscape Architecture. I got to learn from many different landscape architects about their roles within the firm. It was encouraging to me that the people there all worked like a well-oiled machine, each person doing work that they were good at and specialised in. It made me confident I could work in such an environment. I thought the dynamics of the firm worked well: there was a person who would do initial drawings; a person qualified on CAD or Sketchup and other computer programmes. Another staff member’s role was to meet the clients, bringing in the skills of everyone to make a presentation to sell the idea. As the architects or interior designers involved in the project were close by in the same building, they could speak face to face to their colleagues about the design. Every person had a specific role that played best to their skills and this I thought was just one reason why this company was so successful.

I was lucky to get the chance to go out on to a newly completed site and see the high quality of work of that was done. It was a condo apartment block in the middle of Singapore which had different areas throughout the landscape with different feelings for everyone who was to live there to enjoy. It was a really great day and helped me understand what is involved with a high end Landscape Architecture firm, the type of work that is carried out and what that hard work can do to get to a beautiful final product
John Tan from Esmond Landscapes - who is also a member of Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH) helped me throughout my time in Singapore. He organised a designer who was doing a show garden at the Singapore Garden Festival for me to work alongside, he also arranged the work experience at Ong and Ong and also with BNL Landscapes and Nature Landscapes. 

John walked me around Singapore Garden Festival and introduced me to many different Landscape designers that were show casing their designs. I started working with Xanthe White from New Zealand, her design was all about perspective and playing with the way people perceived the space, she used bright coloured walls, closely linked together to get a feeling of the city- you then are intrigued to walk through and get to a space where nature has taken over- an open, lush place of solitude- to escape the ‘city’. On the other end of the area is a bright Yellow wall peeping through a black Xanthe described this as after escaping the city going through solitude and seeing “the light” 

I then helped Kate Hillier and Dan Rutherford both also from New Zealand. Their design “Winter Illusion” is about the juxtaposition of Singapore’s Jungle garden to a winter wonderland of New Zealand’s winters. They achieved this by using mirrors to reflex a landscape covered in snow with a typical Singapore jungle growing over the top to give an illusion that you are in a different space when you look deeper into the garden using the element of surprise. 

I helped Damian Tang a Singapore Designer with his design “A Garden of Hers” the space was cathedral like with tall structures of stain glass windows encapsulated with foliage. Like a hidden and enchanted space with elements of surprise. Damian taught me important elements of design. He spoke about drawing one into the space with excitement from a far, then once the client is there use features to captivate them and draw them in deeper. He then spoke of elements of surprise as one continues into the space something that they would not expect. He then taught me that it is important to leave the viewer having a sense of wonder as well as being able to bring them a peace of mind about the design. He wants to place one through a journey of discovery and I think he achieved this through this design. 

I spent a few days helping James Basson from Monaco France. I loved working with James and Bruno as I felt I could relate to them and their design “Tartartus” This design was all about Greek Mythology. It incorporated different stories to create one of its own. I helped mainly with placing out the plants- they needed to look natural as they sat in an “unruly landscape”. The plants James used were unusual and interesting many also corresponded to the concept of the design, like the Greek story about Chronos who devoured his children this was represented through the use of carnivorous plants. James and his team were great as they were very willing to leave me to put a space together by choosing and laying out plants. They would then give me advice on why it worked or didn’t and how I could change to make it better I found it a great way to learn as I was chucked in the deep end, it made me have a better understanding of the space that I was helping them create.

On my last day I helped Jim Fogarty with laying out and planting plants. It was great to get the opportunity to meet and talk more with an Australian designer about his design and also his involvement with the Australian Garden Show Sydney. Jim’s garden “Australasia” incorporates western and eastern styles. He used beautiful lush plantings native to Singapore, Asia and Australia. Bright colourful walls added structure to the space with the colours representing the bark of Eucalyptus deglupta. A sunken tea room situated in the middle again combining two cultures of Australian outside barbeques and Asian style of sunken gathering areas. I enjoyed working with Jim he was very open to teaching me new things and making me think about why he was using such plants and how they worked with their surroundings. 
Every one that I met at the show were so open, they all took time out of what they were doing to help me and talk to me so I could learn from them. I was so overwhelmed by the generosity that I was shown and would like to thank all that I met. 

I also spent a day with BNL Landscape and Nature coast Landscapes. Bala from BNL Landscape took me through Fort Canning Park a national park in the heart of Singapore. BNL is a maintenance company that hold the contract for many parks around the city. It was great to get an insight on how a good maintenance business is run. I saw first-hand at Fort Canning how pristine their work is on ensuring that the park is in a respectable state for visitors to come and enjoy. 

I then spent the rest of the day with Jacqueline from Nature Landscapes. We explored Santosa Island, where Nature Landscape carries out the maintenance work. Jacqueline is the head horticulturist for the company, her main role is to ensure that all the plants are in good health and she also gives advice to clients of plants and after care of the landscape design. While at Santosa Island I was privileged to get to go onto the roof top to see how the gardens were growing up there, I spoke with the gardener in charge of these gardens and learnt about the duties that he does to keep the plants in good health. I was also talked through how a garden like this is initially put together and the requirements that are needed. I thoroughly enjoyed my day with both BNL and Nature. It was great to see how maintenance companies operate and work with designers and landscape architects to get a space that will last well after completion. 

Singapore was a highlight for me. I loved that I was not only introduced to industry experts from the UK and Europe but this scholarship also took me to Singapore where I could get another insight in the world of Horticulture. 
It was a great stepping stone for me to deeper my understanding of show gardens as I was now only weeks away from setting up and organising my own at the Australian Garden show Sydney. I again would like to thank everyone I met at Singapore including the Students that were helping at the show also. 
I flew out of Singapore and on my way back home I was thinking my trip is over- but little did I know that really it has only just began.  

Australian Garden Show Sydney 2014.

A whole year has gone by and I have found myself where it all started, The Australian Garden Show Sydney. This time I have a platform to showcase everything I have learnt: I have gathered all my inspirations and put them into a garden to show in my own country. An honour.

The concept stage started while Mick and I drove around the UK looking at gardens there. We were living out of the back of a car and this car was our bed room, our kitchen and now my office and study. I had dead-lines to get the plans in on time that I managed to do on our last day in London. I then heard that my plans were accepted while heading to Edinburgh to start my work experience at their Botanic Gardens.

I would be wrong to say that all this was easy and that I knew exactly what I was doing because...well I didn't- I guess that’s what I thought at the time. The pressure to design and organise a show garden with suppliers and event organisers was hard. I was very lucky to have Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Rod Stoller’s advice to help me through and reassure me that my design will work.

While we were in Portugal I had to make a very hard decision. We were rapidly running out of funds and not having a stable place to stay was starting to take its toll on me. As we were now living out of a car again as it was the most affordable way to travel for us. So we decided to leave Europe and head for Indonesia. But in doing this I lost an opportunity to meet with James Hitchmough, someone who had inspired me to apply for the scholarship in the first place. I spoke with James and explained my situation and he understood.  A lost opportunity... yes, but one I hope to be able to take another time soon.
I spoke with my Mum, Ros, again and explained to her the thinking behind my change of plans. She suggested I talk to Annette Irish from AIH and see if she could help with organising Singapore. So I did, and to my amazement the Singapore Garden Festival was on and I could get in to help a designer. A found opportunity, Yes.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason- maybe this is the reason that bad timing had come with meeting Hitchmough, though I will met him one day I’m sure.

So we had 3 weeks in Indonesia on a small island Sumbawa in an even smaller village called Lakeys. It was perfect to have time to reflect, time for myself, but most importantly time to work on my show garden with no feeling of where we were going to sleep tomorrow night…

The planning stage was starting to come together. So I also enrolled back into University for Semester 2 that was to start the week I was in Singapore- I was already playing catch up!
August 15th I flew into Sydney at 5:30am. I gave my parents a massive hug and we were off to the nursery and to meet with James from Greenwall Australia.

Back at home, four hours south in my beautiful home town of Moruya I was on a one track mind- Show garden, show garden, show garden! With a bit of university thrown in there too. No time to relax, glad I had already done that in Indo!

The 29th of August and I was back in Sydney with two cars full to brim with plants, supplies, Ros, Judy and Jeff. Mick flew in at 5:30am we picked him up and went straight to the show to start the build. We also met up with Jim our friend who was helping Mick with the carpentry.

Rain, rain go away! The show had turned into tarp city and work continued on as we had only 5 days to complete the garden.
I was very lucky to have two fabulous carpenters to construct my design for me. Mick and Jim weren't only carpenters but they were also filled with marvellous ideas that helped the design to evolve.

I was also fortunate to have a wonderful strong family who took time out of their schedules to help too, whether it was advice for the build, physically heading to Sydney with me, helping with the pamphlets, help edit my drafts and get the words for my concept right, and letting us take over your house! I wouldn't have been able to have finished without this support and drive from my family.

I found myself stepping back at this stage of the design, I needed to have trust that Mick, Jim, Ros Judy and Jeff understood what I wanted. I realised that this is important to have respect for my tradesmen and their work. I also made sure that they had the right materials, so I had a very familiar track to the hardware store!

The final day and it was time for me to get back and stuck in, planting the plants for the Greenwall to get the flow of colours along the wall to tie in with the plantings in the garden bed. I had inspiration from my time at Chelsea flower show with the use of spiral and ball Buxus topiaries. I have inspirations from UK gardens with swifts of colour flowing through the space. I incorporated inspiration from Singapore with the use of the hanging unusual details to add interest to the space with Moss balls in the window. Then incorporating this with my own design details, and fitting it all in to the brief and concept of the garden that was "Effortless Balance"

Judging day was very nerve racking but exciting too, I also talked more with Graham Ross, after meeting with him at Chelsea. He encouraged me that I had been a great ambassador for the industry on my trip, which was so lovely to hear. He asked if I would like to do another radio interview with him, which aired on the last morning of the show. That night we attended the awards ceremony. Mick and I were very privileged to learn that we had been awarded GOLD for our efforts and all the hard work had paid off! We were ecstatic!

While the show was on I was asked by Jim Fogarty and Don Burke if I would like to get involved with a show garden that Jim had designed that they were putting together while the show was on. I met some more wonderful people while I helped for a short while.

I spent most of my time at my show garden explaining and talking to visitors about the design, which I just loved! It was great to be able to give the visitors ideas about what they can achieve in their own gardens and what you can do in a small space like a balcony. Many happy faces, despite the rain.
One day to pack up and do the 4 hour drive home, as I had University class to get to in Canberra the next day.

I’ll never forget our time at the Australian Garden show Sydney, and it was such a pleasure to get to know all the designers that we met while there, they made our time just that much more fun. Mick and I are looking forward to AGSS 2015.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Kew Gardens Work experience.

The time I spent at the Royal Botanic Garden Kew was unbelievable.

I decided to ask Kew if they had any work placements available because it was an area of horticulture that I was unfamiliar with and wanted to learn more.

I worked in their tropical nursery glass house.

The first morning I was given an overview tour of the entire glass house by Chris head of the Orchid zone. He explained that the nursery is made up of 4 zones, each to their own; arid, temperate, moist tropical and orchids.

I was only at Kew for a short period though in that time it opened my eyes up to how a botanic garden operates and some of the general techniques they use.

My first day was with Paul in the arid zone. Here we spent the day taking propagation cuttings of a variety of different succulents including specimens from the Crassulaceae family, also various different Genus of other families Delosperma, Ruschia and many more. The process was very structured and every plant and prop was taken with lots of care, one to ensure the mother plant would stay alive and two, to ensure a good cutting was taken. We were carrying this job as some of the mother plants were getting to 'leggy' and to also keep at least 3 of the same accession if possible. We finished the day off by controlling some mealy bug that was on some plants.
Some of the cuttings we took.....
They were placed into a sand bed with heated base.

Day two- I was in the temperate house with Rebecca, this day was spent potting up different species of Ericia into air pots. We used a specific peat free potting mix that Rebecca has mixed up prior. I was taught the technique to correctly pot-up these plants as using air pots is quite different from standard pots, and Ericas' can be very fussy plants when handling them.
Erica- Before
Erica- After

Day three- this day was spent with Chris in the orchid house. this was a short day as the staff had meetings they needed to attend, so I took the opportunity to explore the rest of the garden- which was great. I started the day off with watering, always more to watering then you first think. I then helped the rest of the team to change the orchid display at the Princess of Wales Conservatory, and the rest of my time was spent changing the moss around the small orchids in the nursery. 

One of the beautiful slipper orchids in flower. 
Small orchid collection.

Final day and I was in the moist tropical nursery. the morning was spent controlling the infestation of mealy bug that was on a few plants. I then helped to propagate by taking stem cuttings.

Over all I really enjoyed my experience at the Royal Kew Botanic Gardens. It was great to get hands on with a side of horticulture that I have an interest in, and see all the  wonderful plants that are being conserved so carefully.

On day three as I mentioned I was able to take the time to wonder around the gardens. I met up with Mick and together we explored. My favourite thing about Kew Gardens is all the grand old tree that dominate throughout the garden. They give such a magical feeling and a sense of history as some are hundreds of years old. They would of seen a lot !
It was a warm and sunny day and people were out enjoying themselves. Children running around and playing using the gardens in different ways to Mick and myself,though this is what Kew Gardens is just the place for. My time exploring with Mick very special- being able to share with him a garden that inspires me was such a joy and that is what I think gardens are also about, spending time in a beautiful space with people you care about.

Thank you to everyone I meet at Kew for taking the time to teach me about your work place. I am discovering more and more about all the different aspects of horticulture and the different branches you can take. One thing that runs through all the different areas is people openness and willingness to share and teach.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Chelsea Flower Show 2014

The Chelsea Flower show,  something that I can now cross of my bucket list and say that I have helped to build one of the show gardens here is a massive achievement for me personally as it was always something that I had wanted to do since I started horticulture at the age of 16.

The opportunity wasn't exactly handed to me on a silver platter, though how it happened was a strange series of events. It started with asking every person I emailed, whether they knew someone who possibly could give me the chance to somehow help.

After about 8 different people it was Jack Sheilly from Young hort who sent me an email with an application form to apply to volunteer for the RHS while the show was on, I had one day to fill out the form and email it back to Annette Doulton and with a 2 week wait I got a unexpected phone call after dinner from the UK, I answered her questions the best I could and waited again for the response of whether or not I got the spot, and I did. I was absolutely thrilled and tweeted (for those wondering what I'm going on about, a tweet is on a social internet site, Twitter) to Jack to say a massive thank you for thinking of me and forwarding me the application form. Then walking along the beach with Mum, my puppy dogs Nelly, Marley and Zoe I got a very unexpected tweet from Andrew Fisher Tomlin- He asked if I would like to go the Australian flower and Garden show in Sydney this September and show them what I could do with a garden, after being impressed with my C/V. I was a little lost as I stopped to read this tweet over and over and rushed home to email him all my details and tweeted back with a very excited YES PLEASE! (With-out really thinking about what I was getting myself into).

After speaking more with Andrew I explain to him my situation and that I was going to be in London in time for the Chelsea flower show, it was after these emails that he then asked if I would like to come and help plant up during build week, as he knew a team that was looking for some more hands to help out. I remember this day very well- as I almost fainted flat on the floor.... I could not believe what was just offered to me!

So, in the space of two weeks and at the final stages of my planning I got two opportunities to volunteer at the Chelsea Flower show 2014. It is amazing how powerful social media can be.....

15/06//2014 I found myself walking through the entry gates with Andrew, a high vis vest, a build pass and a huge grin that I couldn't rub off my face. I was there!

I was firstly introduced to the designer Jo Thompson, a lovely lady who was not only designing the garden I was to help on, but another garden in the "Fresh" category of the show. We then walked into the Grand pavilion, "This will be where you are helping, Kate" Andrew said as we walked towards the site. The show garden was for a charity by the name of Perennial, a charity that has been operating for 175 years and this garden was to celebrate that and bring more awareness to them. Please click on the link to find out exactly what perennial does for people in horticulture.  a

 I shook hands and said hello to everyone who was there and was placed under Gill Chamberlain's guidance. She is a very experienced horticulturist and a good friend of Jo's and was there to lend a hand. I was also introduced to Fiona, The project manager- a hard job keeping all the volunteers busy and working together, and the site would not have ran so smoothly without Fiona keeping it all together.

After being introduced to everyone on the team I soon came to realise that everyone was there because they had a passion for horticulture just like me. As I spoke more to people they shared their stories and where they came from. Another organisation that was there to help was Street-scape-  an enterprise run to help people get apprenticeships in horticulture and landscaping. Here is a link to find out more about them.   Again, another great organisation to help people and bring awareness to the horticulture industry.

Everyone that I met on this project was happy, friendly and open to teaching me a few things.
Some of the tasks that I was set while there was helping to lay out the plants- here I was mainly taking in what was discussed between Jo, Gill and Katrina. I found it fascinating the way they treated every plant individually, and how they worked to get the colour, height, and texture combinations just right. It was here that I learnt the most. My job then was to help the other volunteers plant them into the soil that was spread out by street scape. After this process it was time to mulch- or I think it would be more appropriate to say do ballet and balancing acts in the garden being careful not to break or bend any flower heads.. tricky, and I must admit I was not totally successful but no major damage occurred in the spreading of the mulch.

I was very fortunate to get a wrist band for Sunday to help Gill to do the final touches to the garden- We spent time manicuring each plant, by wiping leaves to get stains off, pulling out any yellow leaves, ensuring that no pots were showing above the mulch. It took patience, though the end product must of been good to the judges as the show garden was awarded the next day with a Silver Gilt medal. I feel very privileged that I got to work with everyone involved, a very hard working and dedicated team. Thank you !

I met two other young volunteers that I would now call my friends, which also made the experience unforgettable. I first met Suzie, who was asked to come along to Chelsea to see how show gardens are put together, as she is going to be doing her first one at the Birmingham BBC Gardeners world live Flower show in June. She studied fashion design, though always had an interest in natural dyes, that led her to her concept for her border design at the show. Keep your eyes out for Suzie in other up-coming events. She is a fabulous soul.

Later in the week I met Kitty. I had followed her on twitter while in Australia, and she would often tweet rather interesting posts. When I was introduced to her, we got chatting as she helped me with mulching the Perennial show garden. She explained to me that she was there as one of Perennials volunteers and was going to be helping out while the show was on, by giving advice to people who came to look at the garden and raise awareness for the charity. She is one of those lovely people who is kind and friendly to everyone she meets, and has a huge network of friends throughout the industry that she was more than happy to introduce me to. I named her the networking queen !

 There is one moment in my life that I will be forever thankful to Kitty for and that was the nudge of encouragement as she pushed me to go over and say hello to Graham Ross. A surreal moment. I got talking to him and explain who I was and how I came to be at Chelsea and two minutes later I was doing a radio interview with him. He was very delighted to hear that I was there and was open to helping me in the future.

A group of us decided to have a break and go for a walk to see how the other show gardens were coming along. To my surprise I was then saying hello and having my photo taken with Allan Titchmarch. One of my childhood inspirations to horticulture as I grew up watching him every night on my favourite show Ground Force. A true highlight of my Chelsea experience.

This same day and before I got back to do any more work I was being introduced by Andrew Fisher Tomlin to Rod Stoller. Rod is the event manager for the Sydney flower and Garden show. Andrew explained to him my situation and a opportunity to design a Balcony show garden was placed in my hands. I am feeling over whelmed by the chance though I am sure Mick, my family and friends will be able to pull it off in Early September 2014.

The build week had come to an end and all show gardens were looking wonderful by Sunday night. I was able to recoup on my one day off, and was back to volunteer for the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) on the opening day.
I signed up to be a Chelsea appeal pin promoter- to walk around the show to get donations for RHS to help raise money for horticulture in Secondary Schools. I found this job rewarding. The next day I was on Information roaming where I spent my day explaining to visitors the way around the show. On my final day of volunteering I helped on the Plant of the year stand, my favourite day as I got to speak with visitors about new releases of plants all day- even though I had a bit of a head cold I loved it. I met Lesly from Wisley gardens who has offered to show me around when I get there.

All in all I have so many people to thank for my wonderful two weeks at Chelsea. I also would like to thank my wonderful partner Mick for being so patient and waiting for me to finish my time in London before we head off to explore the rest of the UK.

Cheers for taking the time to read this.


Getting stuck in

Almost finished!
Add caption

Filming for BBC 'Chelsea Flower show' Programme

The "mad sell off" at the end of the show the plants are sold and part of the money raised went to Perennial  Charity

Getting a Picture with Graham Ross
Discussing horticulture just after the radio interview.....
Kitty, Allan Titchmarch and I
Some of the team from the show garden getting a picture with Allan
Kitty, Christine Walkden- a very knowledgeable horticulturist and UK TV personality.and I
Kitty, Christine Walkden, I while Volunteering for RHS when the show was on.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Switzerland and Germany.

The first few weeks of our adventure to the UK and Europe have been rather eventful. After a massive 13 hour flight from Singapore to London and an 8 hour flight before that, we landed in London.
Explored the city and organised our travels to meet up with Jenni in Switzerland. I met Jenni through working at the Heritage Nursery with her when she came over on exchange. I showed her my home in Moruya and it was great to meet up with her again to be shown her part of the world, and what an amazing part it is.
She lives just out of Zurich in a small town of Bulach, she took us on sight seeing tours to the Rhinefalls, up to Santis Mountain and through the beautiful old cities of that area of Switzerland.

We also made a day to go to Europa Park in Germany. It was a fun filled day, on roller coasters and rides. But not only that it also had a lot to do with Landscape design..... There is structure to the way the theme park is set out to ensure that people directed through the space easily. It needs to accommodate to the masses of crowds so even the lines to get onto the ride is a journey and designed to distract you from the fact that you are in a queue for almost an hour. All this then tied into the over all aspect of a theme park and that is a total Utopia- A perfect place in the world for fun and adventure.

Gardens that were well maintained, bright, happy and framed the pathways that lead you throughout the park

Green grassed spaces for relaxing families, with a juxtaposition of roller coasters flying through the space adding excitement, thrill and movement.... 

I was also fortunate to get a chance to met with Paulus, Christine and Ragula from Grolimund Gartenbau AG. Arrangements were made with Bruno my ex-employer from the Heritage Nursery (He is Swiss) and he called on a favour from his good friend Paulus.
This is a link to their web page to learn more about Paulus's company.
One of the latest of Paulus designs for a play ground in a block of apartment buildings

Ragula showed Mick and I around the grounds and through the office talking to us about how the firm is run. We were then shown with Paulus some of his finished landscapes, and his own home garden. You could tell he was a very hard working man with a love of plants and good design. It was a great experience to see first hand how a well run garden design, maintenance and construction company works and to be able to see that there are so many possibilities in this industry within that field.

We made our way up to Dusseldorf to meet with Annette Irish- the President of the Australian Institute of horticulture. She had planned to take me through some of Dusseldorf's retail nurseries to see how different they are to those in Australia or other places around the world.
They are beautiful- and on a very large scale
Colour blocking, vertical lines on the back shelf displays
Colour blocking, with large open pathways that are continuous throughout the nursery. 
 Some of the techniques that were used in these nurseries were vertical lines with stock and colour blocking, as they are more appealing to the human eye. Attention to detail with all plants is critical for the sale of those plants. The use of add on's being placed near products will increase sales. The fact to have paths that are continuous throughout the nursery to ensure fluent flow. Re-stocking and stock rotation, they had "plant" displays with new releases of plants to show off the product to the customers. And great variety of plants to choose from, though I couldn't help to compare to the retail nursery I worked in at Canberra for Bruno and Hedy. The Heritage Nursery Yarralumla. I found that I too was taught these techniques of retail nurseries, perhaps on a smaller scale.
Large scale nurseries 

Mick and I managed to also squeeze in visiting 3 of  Dusseldorf's wonderful gardens throughout the city in our short stay. The highlight was Nord park (North park). This garden had large open spaces to show the massive scale of the area with magnificent water feature. We were then lead to a secluded Japanese style garden that used perfectly trimmed conifers to add interest into the garden and traditional ideas of Japanese planting that reflect the natural world that surrounds us, mountains, lakes and plants.
Formal and stunning part of Nord path.
Large scale Lawns that lead you into the secluded areas of the park, Nord Park, Dusseldorf, interestingly not a soul walked over the lawn while we sat there to rest our feet, everyone took the designated paths. 

Annual Planting beds within Nord Park, Dusseldorf
Perfectly trimmed conifers with the colour of the azaleas and Rhodo's in the back ground of the Japanese Garden, Nord Park Dusseldorf
Beautiful flowering Rhododendrons and Azaleas with water fall in the back ground, Japanese Garden in Nord Park, Dusseldorf
The lake in the Japanese Gardens, Nord Park, Dusseldorf
We visited as well the Dusseldorf Botanic Garden,  though to me it looked a bit neglected, and hard to find our way around. Though was good to see different types of plants and some Australian there too. The final garden was the Benrath Manor, A Baroque style garden, with glorious garden rooms. There was also a community vegetable garden within the grounds a wonder way to bring people out doors and into a spectacular garden.

All in all it was a fabulous trip to see how Switzerland and Germany treat their gardens and out door spaces and has given me some inspiration.

Green house at the Botanic Gardens Dusseldorf 
Dusseldorf Botanic Gardens

Ally way of perfectly pruned trees very visually appealing to draw you down the space.
The Grand Lake and view out of the Manor house at Benrath, Dusseldorf
Benrath Manor House, Dusseldorf Germany
Community vegetable garden at Benrath Manor, Dusseldorf
Sunken gardens with a water feature behind at Benrath Manor, Dusseldorf