Luoyang Peony Cultural Festival China

Every year in Luoyang in northern China from early April to May there are massed displays of China’s national flower, the elegant and exceptional peony in several locations, including the China National Flower Garden (国花园) Wangcheng Park (王城公园), the National Peony Garden (国家牡丹园) and the Luoyang International Peony Garden (国际牡丹园). Throughout Luoyang you can see over 1000 different varieties of peonies of all sizes and colours set among beautiful landscaped gardens. Most gardens are open from first light until dusk.

Classical gardens and contemporary art in China

Western thinking on garden history tends to be almost unconsciously European in focus – we might evoke the eighteenth century, and think of ha-has and arboreta, or perhaps a Renaissance Italian stroll garden, ornamented with classical statuary. But when mediaeval apothecaries were busy enclosing medicinal herbs in box compartments, one of our greatest cultures was quite literally moving mountains. In China, where the most exciting contemporary art is also to be found, gardens and art have been inextricably linked for almost two thousand years. Continue reading “Classical gardens and contemporary art in China”

A designer’s path to the Singapore Garden Festival

In July 2016 I will have my show garden ‘The Butterfly Effect‘ on display in the Landscape Garden category at the prestigious Singapore Garden Festival. For any garden designer it’s a huge and daunting honour but for a relative newcomer to the landscape industry like me, developing a new career and managing a young family too…Just how did it happen that I’m now designing and building a show garden for one of the world’s biggest garden shows? Continue reading “A designer’s path to the Singapore Garden Festival”

China’s Tangshan International Horticultural Expo opens

Tangshan South China garden

The city of Tangshan in northern China last week opened the 2016 Tangshan International Horticultural Exposition. During an amazing opening ceremony, involving performances from hundreds of Tangshan citizens, guests from around the world celebrated the start of this six month event that is expected to attract many millions of visitors. Continue reading “China’s Tangshan International Horticultural Expo opens”

Yunnan, China, treasure trove of plants and ethnic cultures

I am excited to tell you, dear reader, that I have been invited to lead a tour ‘In the Footsteps of the Plant Collectors’ to one of the most botanically diverse areas on earth, Yunnan Province in China. A number of our most treasured garden plants such as roses, magnolias, rhododendrons, poppies and many others come from this floral treasure trove. Continue reading “Yunnan, China, treasure trove of plants and ethnic cultures”

I kept my promise: garden skills to give independence in Vietnam

It was almost a month later when I arrived back in Melbourne, and well into September although the icy fingers of winter still hung on. Only 24 hours earlier I was travelling to DaNang airport in Vietnam with a tropical storm brewing in the South China Sea. A fierce wind bent over trees along the roadside and a warm rain slammed horizontally against the taxi windscreen. My flight was delayed a few hours while the storm past to the east. Continue reading “I kept my promise: garden skills to give independence in Vietnam”

Singapore Botanic Gardens: 5 things to LOVE

• Rubber ‘n’ Spice: Economic Botany power house
• Orchids: Exotica – science meets commerce
• Dipterocarps: rainforest ark in a City-State
• Dynamism: great team – catalysing regional capacity
• High wire act: balancing rapid change / newness with history / richness Continue reading “Singapore Botanic Gardens: 5 things to LOVE”

Chelsea 2015 Fresh: World Vision Garden

One of the Chelsea Flower Show 2015 gardens in the Fresh category that I loved was the ‘World Vision Garden: Grow Hope’, inspired by the beauty of Cambodia. It won a silver-gilt medal for designer John Warland, a four-time RHS medallist and a supporter of World Vision. It evokes the rice fields of Cambodia where children often survive, but are malnourished, on just two bowls of rice a day. Continue reading “Chelsea 2015 Fresh: World Vision Garden”

Gardening World Cup Japan 2013

Once again the USA, New Zealand, France, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the UK and Malaysia were all represented this year at the prestigious Gardening World Cup held annually in Nagasaki, Japan. It’s a careful selection of the world’s best and most ‘out of the box’ designers, coming together to show what magic they can create given a strict budget and a theme, which was to display ‘World Peace’. Continue reading “Gardening World Cup Japan 2013”

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay

When I last visited Singapore two years ago, the Gardens by the Bay which opened in June this year was just a building site but now it has been transformed into a botanical wonderland. It is tempting to think of the Gardens as a type of Disneyland but this would dismiss the serious aspects of the project which include extending the Garden City theme of Singapore and providing education on environmental issues. Continue reading “Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay”

Peony paradise!

I had promised Catherine a story about my incredible visit to the Peony Festival at Luoyang in central China in April this year. It’s a bit late, as I have been travelling since then but here it is at last! Each Spring, a Festival to showcase the unofficial national flower of China, the treepeony is held in and around Luoyang, the capital of Henan Province and a ‘medium’ sized city of only 7 million people!! Continue reading “Peony paradise!”