The best ideas often come when you least expect them. Garden designers Ross Uebergang and Yousuke Yamaguchi were enjoying a few drinks in a Nagasaki bar when they started chatting. Yousuke scribbled a few designs on a serviette and a year later, the results of their brainstorming – an Australian-Japanese unity garden – will appear at the Melbourne Flower and Garden show.
An award-winning landscape designer, Uebergang has worked in Australia, Japan, Nepal and India. He believes in sustainability and the importance of native plants. Respected designer Yamaguchi, who was also caretaker of the Japanese Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, comes from a family of nursery owners in Kyoto.
The two met at a Japanese gardening show and realised how much they had in common.
Their unity garden fuses the best from Australian and Japanese gardening traditions. “Japanese gardens are more often used as a transition or to look out onto whereas here in Australia we’re more into functional space,” Uebergang explains.
Their unity garden combines Grampians bush plants with Japanese design principles. The design focuses on an area for a tea ceremony where a path leads to a circular walled area with tatami mats used as a floor floating over a water feature.
“The style of planting and the rugged look of the Australian bush is the predominant thing in the garden but it’s assembled using Japanese techniques,” Uebergang says.
In Japanese garden design, the main work consists of careful stone and plant placement to capture the best of nature. Japanese gardens are sustainable because they use little construction. Instead of laying paving on concrete slabs and building decks, flat stones are used on the ground.
Uebergang says he wants the experimental garden to challenge people.
Yousuke has landed here is sunny Melbourne! @instyle_gardens @soilworx_ @chalkhorsedesign @sheoak_sl @personalplantbuyer @spacecapsulegardenco @frenchamcypress @bennewelldesign @gardens_at_night @bennewelldesign @thegreenergardencompany @yamaguchi_yousuke @personalplantbuyer @granite.works @reeceirrigationandpools
The unity garden aims to make people think about how to spend more time outdoors and do more indoor things outside. The display will include a projector screen, bean bags and a desk.
“I’m catering for things you would normally do inside,” Uebergang says. “I’m also into offices that become a forest rather than partition walls and neon lights.”
Yamaguchi believes a garden is never finished and ongoing maintenance will continually reshape it.
- Best stone: Castella rock from a quarry north-east of Melbourne.
- Favourite nursery: Newport Lakes Native Nursery specialises in plants from the western plains.
- Top plant: Austrostipa stipoides native grass has a nice upright form and needs little maintenance.
- Best garden: Royal Botanical Gardens Cranbourne.
Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show is on March 21-25 at the Royal Exhibition Building and gardens.