2021 Conference

FB-2 Fairbairn
FB-3 KerfordRd
FB-5 Mainridge
FB-6 Salter
FB-7 Salter
FB-8 Salter
FB-9 Shipp
FB-10 Shipp
FB-11 Shipp
MS-1 Tokachi
MS-2 Tokachi
MS-3 Tokachi
MS-4 Tokachi
MS-7 Tokachi
MS-9 Tokachi
MS-10 Tokachi
MS-11 Tokachi
MS-12 Tokachi
MS-13 Tokachi
TR-1 Cosmic
TR-4 metaxu
TR-7 rodmarton
TR-8 siss
TR-9 siss
TR-10 siss
Simon Rickard arbutus
Simon Rickard grass late summer
Simon Rickard late summer
Simon Rickard snow


Melbourne Convention Centre, 1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf, Victoria, Australia

Since it began in 2002 the biennial Australian Landscape Conference has operated at the cutting edge of international landscape and garden design. Perhaps the most important word in that sentence is ‘international’, because no other conference worldwide has consistently presented such a genuinely global digest of contemporary work and thought. Under the leadership, first, of founders Warwick and Sue Forge, and now under the direction of Fleur Flanery, the conference has consistently striven to seek out the most interesting work in every continent and culture, taking the audience out of what may be described as the ‘comfort zone’ of gardens made in the Anglo-sphere. In the process, it has been striking to see how global trends and preoccupations can be discerned across disparate cultures.This year is no exception. With speakers from Asia, America, Europe and of course Australia, the themes being pursued generally reflect the dilemma of landscape design in the 21st century: how to create landscapes and gardens which are functional and beautiful, but which also cultivate a meaningful and harmonious relationship with the wider ecology. This impulse takes various forms, from the ‘naturalistic turn’ in planting design — which has seen garden-makers think in terms of ‘plant communities’ which are self-sustaining and in some ways self-designing — to an understanding of landscape design as a form of land management.

Of special interest this year are the claims that modern industrial agriculture and horticulture often seriously degrade farms and landscapes and that Australia’s thin soils are especially vulnerable. Current research suggests radical solutions. Even more remarkable is the notion that Australian Aborigines farmed in harmony with the land and the seasons, pursuing what would now be called ‘sustainable’ agriculture.

The reality of city living is also broached by the conference speakers — how could it not be, with so many of us living in urban areas now, and with those numbers set to increase as the century wears on? Parks and other forms of green space take on even more importance as the size and sometimes the density of our cities increases. Landscape designers have a key role to play in this development.

All of this is not to forget the role that domestic gardens play in our lives — the pleasure to be derived from simply being in a beautiful place, surrounded by plants and flowers. Even while our larger concerns as custodians of the planet develop, the transcendent power of the garden as a lived experience remains a constant, as it provides stimulus, solace and joy.


Tim Richardson





Conference Speakers 2021

Margo Neale Margo Neale (Aust) will open the 2021 Australian Landscape Conference. Margo is one of the very few female indigenous art curators and Head of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledges at the National Museum in Canberra. Her presentation focuses on ‘Land’ which is viewed as ‘Country’ in Aboriginal Australia. It is a worldview that embodies nature and its many manifestations through the seasons, weather events, climactic and landforms. But it is an archive, where our knowledge, law and identity reside. Country holds information, stories, and secrets – from medicine, engineering, ecology, astronomy to social mores on how to live well and sustainably on this planet and with each other. If Country holds such knowledge, then Country is clever. This concept will be visually explored through an expose of the Seven sisters songlines.
Tom Stuart-Smith Tom Stuart-Smith (UK) is a landscape architect whose work combines naturalism with modernity and built forms with romantic planting. He has designed gardens, parks and landscapes throughout the world for clients including the Royal Horticultural Society, the Royal Academy of Arts and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Current projects include a garden square at King’s Cross, several projects at Chatsworth, a garden for Scottish Aldourie Castle, and masterplan for RHS Garden Bridgewater the largest garden project in the UK. He has designed eight award winning gardens for Chelsea Flower Show, all gold medals and three ‘Best in Show’.
Sue Stuart-Smith Sue Stuart-Smith (UK) is a psychiatrist and author of ‘The Well Gardened Mind’, a Sunday Times Bestseller which analyses the relationship between gardening and mental health. She studied English Literature at Cambridge before qualifying as a doctor and working in the NHS, becoming the clinician for psychotherapy in Hertfordshire. She currently teaches, consults to DocHealth and works on the wonderful Barn Garden in Hertfordshire with Tom.
Andrew Laidlaw Andrew Laidlaw has been the Landscape Architect at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (Melbourne) since 1997 where he is responsible for the design and implementation of an extensive range of landscape projects. His achievements include the award winning Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden (2004), Guilfoyle’s Volcano Project (2010) and the rejuvenation of the Fern Gully (2013).
Bill Gammage Bill Gammage AM, FASSA is an Australian academic historian, Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University. He researched and wrote the book ‘The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia’, released in October 2011.
Charles Massy Charles Massy (Aust) was struck by desertification processes throughout history and by his own drought-stricken farm in 1979-83. So, he devoted his life to understanding how European and industrial agriculture has wrought such havoc. His soil biology research includes dramatic results internationally and provides exciting hope for achieving nutrient rich properties through regenerative farming.
Claudia West Lively and passionate, Claudia West is a vital voice in ecological planting design.
…We harness biodiverse plant systems to create resilient, emotionally-resonant landscapes. … that are functional, beautiful, and diverse. Our projects span many scales and sectors … green roofs, green infrastructure, urban plazas, rural estates, campuses to small gardens.
Claudia left Germany through her love for USA native plants.
Fiona Brockhoff Fiona Brockhoff may be Australia’s most successful designer for achieving an Australian sense of place with elements and plants which are sometimes native, sometimes not, but somehow, always feel Australian, like her own garden, with its topiary Casuarina’s and skillful use of natural materials.
It works and it’s brilliant!
James Hitchmough James Hitchmough’s (UK) principal interest has been the ecology, design and management of attractive, sustainable and traditional herbaceous plantings. He is a world leader, with international experience, including restoration of Australian native grasslands. He is now part of a $1 billion Melbourne greening project.
Jon Hazelwood Jon Hazelwood (Aust) is a landscape architect, Principal at Hassell Sydney and responsible for projects in Australia, UK, Asia and Middle East. Jon is also a keen gardener, regularly sharing insights on how great planting design and access to nature enriches our lives. He is interested in how lessons learnt in the garden can be applied to large public projects, which is clear in his latest project – the redevelopment of Melbourne’s arts precinct.
Midori Shintani Midori Shintani (Japan), Head Gardener at Hokkaido’s huge Tokachi Millennium Forest where she worked with Dan Pearson and others. Her passion for the Forest is deeply rooted in Japanese animistic and spiritual bases which reinforce the beautiful and sacred nature of the plants and landscapes. Her insights into ecological and management issues are deeply moving.
Paul Bangay Paul Bangay’s (Aust) timeless, elegant, formal gardens are legendary. But his artistic flair continues to emerge and evolve based upon his experience, European training and scientific background. Recent experimentation is now allowing this garden artist to more fully emerge.
Philip Cox Philip Cox, AO acclaimed Australian architect says … As the world becomes more global, maintaining indigenous Australian landscapes and gardens becomes important. His book, ‘An Australian Garden : Reimagining a Native Landscape’ … captures the vision of an Australian garden resting in a wild landscape.
Simon Rickard Simon Rickard (Aust) is a man of many aspects. His career has included time as head gardener at Diggers, growing bespoke restaurant produce, giving lectures and masterclasses for a host of organisations, leading garden tours, writing and many appearances on television.
Tim Richardson Tim Richardson (UK) is a brilliant writer, poet, historian and critic specialising in gardens and art. Internationally recognised as a leading authority on landscape design and history, his knowledge of designers is unsurpassed. His reflections on gardens and designers are surprising, arresting and entertaining.
Trisha Dixon Trisha Dixon (Aust) photographs, writes, reads and leads garden tours to gardens worldwide. She has a dozen books to her name and embraces gardens that respond to their climate, are quirky and reflect the owners’ passions and follies. She will lead two ‘In Conversations’ at the conference.
Ulf Nordfjell Ulf Nordfjell (Sweden) an award-winning contemporary landscape architect and biologist works with city development in various climate zones and private gardens in Sweden and southern France. Ulf is known for some beautiful work in his ‘romantic minimalistic’ style, his focus on sustainable plants and highly disciplined maintenance support.


Light on Landscape is proud to be the major sponsor of the Australian Landscape Conference 2021.

Light on Landscape logo