Welcome to the 2015 Australian Landscape Conference with its truly riveting program!
Over the past two or three generations western civilisations have been transformed. For the first time in history most people now live in cities, many are estranged from nature, and children are surprised to learn that vegetables actually emerge from Mother Earth.
While many are depressed by concrete jungles that increasingly typify so many cities, some – like our speaker Martin Rein-Cano, born in Argentina and practising in Berlin – believe this provides a unique opportunity for gardens to incorporate art and nature, exciting imagination through the introduction of natural beauty in all its forms.
Tony Mugg convened the first Australian Landscape Conference in 1989 featuring English School heavyweights John Brookes, Rosemary Verey, Beth Chatto, Penelope Hobhouse and Christopher Lloyd (inter alia). In 2013, for the first time, we had no speakers from Britain; the same applies this year (James Basson being a mere escapee).
Our horizons have broadened. We are drawn today by countries that respect impressive natural floras, and by those Mediterranean-type landscapes where agriculture, cuisine and gardens seamlessly evolve over millenia.
In this conference we will explore art and nature as principal themes for our landscapes and gardens. It will be launched by the evergreen Tim Entwisle, who shares Rein-Cano’s enthusiasm for urban ecology. The latter has one of the most brilliant conceptual minds in Europe for discussing landscapes and he will challenge our assumptions about the meaning and value of gardens and what their potential might be.
He seeks to straddle both nature and art whilst Xavier Perrot from France creates exquisite places for dreaming, whimsical gardens and outdoor installations, which conjure drama … It’s not about nature, but about alternate worlds. At the opposite extreme, the ebullient Australian Phillip Johnson, still fresh from Chelsea triumphs, remains enthralled … with the power and joy that nature brings.
James Basson is a wonderful plantsman who takes a gentle path with his gardens in the south of France, working with regional seasons and flora and with minimal intervention.
The Athenian Thomas Doxiadis also displays profound sensitivity for the natural flora and his timeless landscapes of the Greek Isles. If you thought the Greeks were down and out – Thomas will make you think again!
Coffee table book-lovers may think the garden is that plaything owned solely by the rich and famous. Colombian Diana Wiesner, hotly challenges this and devotes her life to providing green networks connecting and dissecting the great megalopolis of Bogota.
Viesturs Cielens is also an outsider. He is fascinated by connections between gardens and owners and their evolution over time.
Our workshops this year provide a range of outstanding presenters who will ensure fascinating interactive sessions for those anxious for the nuts and bolts of it all.
The Garden Tour to the Dandenong Ranges, the finest horticultural conditions in Australia (says Trevor Nottle) is a very special treat, as is the Speakers’ Dinner and cruising down the Yarra River in the Royal Barge!
What a wonderful collection of speakers we have this year, with such diversity and expertise. But their greatest asset is their shared passion for better place-making.
And for those who have not yet been to our conferences, the same must be said of our delegates. We come from all disciplines, all walks of life, but are all kindred souls for these brief but engrossing biennial sessions.
For the indispensable support provided for this conference, we especially thank Louisa Jones, Tim Richardson, Peter Watts, Jenny Wade, Anne Latreille and Jimena Acevado.
We must also mention the fantastic support of Warner’s Nurseries, our major sponsor now celebrating its centenary year. Warner’s Nurseries is complemented by a range of other sponsors who have also been of great benefit to the conference.
Warwick and Sue Forge