Here We Go Again: Show Time

Here We Go Again... Show Time

Mike Rickhoff

5 March 2020

It’s that time of the year again when we open the doors (or should that be virtual swinging garden gates) of the Show Gardens at Lifestyle Home Garden to the public, ushering in what we hope will be another well received offering of creative design and gardening options for fellow veteran gardeners and importantly, the new kids on the green block.

When I say “we” I mean Lifestyle Home Garden as host and sponsor in partnership with Lifestyle College (that place where passionate and seriously able lecturers teach, train, guide and groom students in the art of Horticulture and Landscape Design).

Yes, these gardens are essentially designed and built by soon-to-graduate students of the college under dedicated guidance of college tutorship – we think that’s quite a thing.

What a way to create budding master landscapers!

Why do we do it?

Well, two main reasons really.

On the one hand we have a group of students who have been through quite an intensive academic year during which time, many practical projects and field trips were also undertaken. These practical activities, interspersed within the academic realm, are really incremental steps that coach and prepare the student towards becoming a well-rounded landscape practitioner. So where does this culminate and become holistic and integrated? The answer is, of course, show gardens. Here is a platform that takes the whole plethora of learnings and applies them from beginning to end; alpha to omega – mandate, through concept to final execution. The full Monty, so to speak

And the other reason? We take enormous pleasure from showcasing the latest plants and products in a setting that reflects garden design possibilities. We also challenge ourselves to use more familiar elements in new and creative ways. Lately, we have been delighting in exploring the re-use of things; recycling, upcycling and re-purposing. We do all this because we love doing it and we love sharing our ideas. We love exploring the latest trends and we specially love setting some of our own.

Is there a lot that goes into it, you ask?

To consider this thought, we must firstly remind all and sundry that the presentation of this garden show is treated as a fulfilling but serious undertaking, mandated by a real client for the presentation of a very public show that is also widely covered in the media.

So, we leave very little to chance in planning and execution.

Let us share the design methodology with you, it’s all very interesting…

The whole thing follows a process that has been tried and tested over the years. Every now and then we shift our paradigm and raise the bar a notch or two so we try to remain flexible and agile in our whole approach.

It all starts with intent…what is it that we need to do this time around? First thought is to make it different from what we have done before. So it all starts with our client brief for this year and our challenge to interpret the mandate creatively and faithfully.

Next, after much research, conceptualising and sketching, we come up with what we think is a high-level overall concept sketch of the entire show space. Then comes the rather nerve-wracking presentation of concept to client. Sounds ominous but in reality, we have a really great relationship and this always turns out to be a most positive and constructive interaction. All good so far.

Once we have got through this, it’s all about Show Workshop – a seven week period of concept refinement allowing students the opportunity to contribute, plan drawing and projection, model making and preparation for the Grand Show Design Presentation (or to put it another way – the Big Reveal). It is during this time that we put all our energies into creating a presentation to be shared with the client, the client’s senior management team and the green industry suppliers and growers. This all happens at the end of the year before the actual show build. The purpose – to get them as excited about the vision as we are. To wow them and to share our passion with them. Just so.

It also gives us a chance to get some feedback before we take the leap of faith and get building.

Getting down and dirty:

A few short weeks off over December, then off we go with the build itself. Remember, students build these gardens and there is still so much to learn – this is the business end of it all. At the very heart of it, we get about five to six weeks to get the job done. Because we push ourselves in the creative and concept space, this also means that we must find a way to get all of those sexy features done and all those plants planted in time. Show build is really hard work and requires all involved to dig really deep. But when all is said and done, there is always, without exception, in our own experience, that feeling of achievement – of a job well done – and the glowing feeling of stand-back-satisfaction.

The theme for 2020:

It’s all about urban space this year – urban greening and urban renewal…with a few twists thrown in for good measure. Firstly, we consider balconies – those small, rather confined spaces set on high with no place to dig a hole for even the teeniest plant. But we show how they can be brought to life with strong theme, colour and even bring in the edibles. We look at patios that have elements suited for balconies, and we consider small spaces, space within spaces and micro spaces. Even the roof garden and the work-from homer gets our attention. So I guess there is just about something for everyone.

It’s been awesome sharing. We hope your interest has been piqued and that you can appreciate what the whole hubbub is all about. We really do look forward to seeing you there enjoying the gardens with us.