Withers’ garden to grow forever in China
A GARDEN designed by Ocean Grove landscape architect Phillip Withers will be growing in Shanghai forever after triumphing at this year’s China Flower Expo.
Teams from 22 countries took part in the 10th edition of the international event, and Mr Withers’ garden – part of the Australian team – was one of just three to receive a master garden award and the designation to remain in China’s biggest city permanently after the expo finishes in October.
Mr Withers secured his place at the expo by winning at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, and said the island-shaped design in Shanghai was originally intended for the Australian Garden Show.
“It was all about getting back to nature, the importance of your locality and building on native consideration – to be honest, it was originally inspired by the Great Ocean Road and these sort of places.
“The Melbourne Flower and Garden Show has been cancelled for the past two years so we couldn’t deliver that great design and see it through, so we thought we’d use that idea to start research into China’s native vegetation.”
The garden’s design uses stone as a feature, including on the paths through it.
“It’s all about using some of the natural outcrops in the area, and we manipulated them into basically a boardwalk. Rather than a timber boardwalk, we thought we could do it with stone, and have a natural boardwalk that wanders up through the garden to a lookout,” Mr Withers said.
“It’s supposed to be about wandering through a nice, natural landscape, picking some different sorts of vegetation along the way, and having a spot where you can be with a group of people and just relax; there’s almost a gathering table up the top.”
Mr Withers, whose landscape design business is based in Melbourne, said it was a shame his whole team could not go to China for the expo because of coronavirus-imposed travel restrictions but he felt very privileged that their efforts had been recognised with a master garden award.
“We’re pretty excited with the result, in any case.”