Local Legend

A landscape by Phillip Withers Landscape Design with Yarra Valley Water champions Victoria’s coastline and the importance of water conservation.

A passionate project between a water conservation advocate and a water management company still has a chance to be seen by the public – fingers crossed.

Melbourne design firm Phillip Withers and Yarra Valley Water were invited to design an ‘Honorary Landscape’ this year for the 2020 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS). More than a year’s worth of planning, design, research, curated plant contracts and trips back and forth to nurseries went into this project – and then it didn’t happen. The show was cancelled two weeks before it was due to open.

Phillip was a previous winner of the Award of Excellence for Best in Show, and this year they were excited about presenting a celebration of their turf – Point Addis, between Bells Beach and Anglesea on Victoria’s surf coast.

The project was called It’s Our Time and the design featured over 3000 native plants from Victoria’s west coast (Great Ocean Road), mainly from the Otway and Warrnambool plains and the knockout Otway Ranges.

With a view to showcasing just how great our flora can be, Phillip and his team designed a rich, productive native garden that highlighted the importance of locality (using local plants), encouraging biodiversity, promoting water conservation and educating punters about the ecological role nature plays in maintaining the quality of our soil, water and air.

Phillip says inspiration for It’s Our Time came from the strong belief that now, more than ever, we must work with nature and not against it.

“As more than half of the state’s vegetation has been cleared since European settlement and we face the reality of climate change, we want to champion the use of our local nature for future development and ensure we move forward with a conscience.”

The landscape starts with a bluestone lookout over a scrubby garden of mixed native plant life. A drift of billowing native grasses runs across the lower plains to the shrub that rolls up the sand dunes. The shape of the landscape changes with a bank of rammed earth cliff-like structures, reminding viewers of the chunks of eroded cliffs that mark the environment along that coast. Finally, a bluestone boardwalk floats out and over the natural plains and down towards the beach.

Working closely with Scott Buckland at Yarra View Nursery, Phillip curated a local plant list for the project and the nursery had all the plants ready for the show. So everything is ready to go; there’s still a chance that the design will be planted at another location, perhaps in time for spring?

“It’s all a bit up in the air for the minute,” says Phillip (at the time of writing). “Yarra Valley Water and I are still committed and keen to show people the exciting things that can be achieved with little to no watering … it’s just that we’re not sure when or where! Watch this space – we still want to do it!”



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