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Grand Garden Designs: Q&A

'The challenge for me was to hope that I could realise photographically the designers voice as well as reflect my own experience.' 

Photgrapher, Jason Busch


Why large gardens … what do they show us?

Survey Coordinator Howard Tanner:  A larger garden – or indeed a park – allows more expansive opportunities for creative expression and typically inspires other gardens and gardeners. The great botanic gardens set high standards for landscape design and horticulture, while many large gardens that were once private, like Vaucluse House in Sydney’s east and Everglades at Leura, in time become part of the public realm.


The photographs of the Amoeba Garden at Ooralba (pictured ) have really captivated everyone’s attentions. How did that garden come about?

Landscape designer, Hugh Main:  We have been experimenting with sculpting plants for many years.  We’ve been influenced by great gardeners such as Nicole de Vesian, Fernando Caruncho and many of the creators of traditional Japanese Zen gardens. We’ve also been influenced by the way that the wind prunes plants on exposed headlands. We borrowed the pruning techniques fine-tuned by these great gardeners, and borrowed the natural shapes formed in nature, to create our own voice in the Amoeba Garden. Fortunately our clients where patient, as it was underwhelming when installed ten years ago. The Amoeba Garden has evolved into a piece of sculpture. 

Dome shaped hedges sit in the foreground, with a view of a mountain range in the far distance.

Ooralba, Barrengarry, Southern Highlands, Lead designer: Hugh Main, Photographer: Murray Fredricks


What are the particular joys and challenges in photographing gardens?

Photographer Jason Busch:  There is sanctuary in walking through a beautifully designed garden and I am a happier person for it. I have grown to love the predawn garden, dark and quiet, waiting for the first light to strike life through the leaves and saturate the colour. Following the light is how I get to know most of the gardens I photograph … The challenge for me was to hope that I could realise photographically the designers voice as well as reflect my own experience. 

A circular driveway framed by foliage with a view in the distance of a river and mountain range.

Horse Island, Bodalla, South Coast, Lead designer: Christina Kennedy, Photographer: Jason Busch


What do you hope visitors will take away from the exhibition?

Curator Sarah Morley:  Grand Garden Designs is a wonderfully rich exhibition showcasing a selection of photographs commissioned by the Library. Apart from being able to immerse themselves in this world of innovative Australian landscape design, I hope that visitors see that the Library continues to document life in NSW, actively collecting historical as well as contemporary material.