Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

With over 40 years’ experience in landscape design and installations, Greg Palmer knows his way around a garden.

He started out working in nurseries, with horticultural training, before his growing passion for garden design lead him to start boutique landscaping studio, Ayus Botanical with the help of his wife, Karen.

The Melbourne-based team has since completed countless residential and commercial projects – working on everything from suburban mansions, to resorts and beer gardens in St Kilda’s Village Belle Hotel and The Esplanade!

Christina Karras

A peek at a relaxing consulting suite for Integrative Health Care, by Ayus Botanical! Photo – Marnie Hawson

Ayus Botanical has worked on residential and commercial gardens for more than three decades. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Greg at work in his Melbourne studio. Photo – Marnie Hawson

‘We’re normally in planning for a number of months and then there’s a very manic push at the end of a project,’ Greg explains. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Ayus Botanical’s Greg Palmer and Karen Dickson. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Their team all share the couple’s passion for landscaping and strong horticultural knowledge. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Greg’s designs focus on strong green foliage, with accent or highlight plants that change colours with the seasons. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The abundant greenery by Ayus Botanical beside the Village Belle Hotel. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Lush and inviting green spaces. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The recently renovated Village Belle Hotel in St Kilda. Photo – Marnie Hawson

‘Whether it’s a beer garden, a hotel or someone home, my preference is to give a calming response to a space,’ Greg says. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Greg selects most of the plants himself by hand! Photo – Marnie Hawson

‘The installations always have that beautiful living entity and shades of green,’ Karen says of the team’s style. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Greg walks the expansive lawns he established for a residential project. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Serene, quiet and calming spaces characterise Ayus Botanical’s designs. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Christina Karras
27th of June 2022

For Ayus Botanical’s Greg Palmer, the best gardens are those that evoke an emotional response.

‘Whether it’s a beer garden, a hotel or someone’s home, my preference is to give a calming response to a space,’ he says. ‘I want to create a garden that when people walk into it, they completely relax.’

This is a driving ethos behind all of his timeless and sensory designs. He and wife Karen Dickson, Ayus Botanical’s international project manager, liken the experience of being in good garden to going to therapy!

Greg’s background in horticulture and nurseries has given him a wealth of knowledge about plants, while Karen’s previous careers in management consulting and natural medicine have helped inspire their signature landscape designs in different ways.

‘I normally want a garden to be as lush as possible with darker tones of green,’ Greg explains.

‘If I was putting a garden together and someone came to visit it in monthly intervals, I would like them to see subtle changes. But I want the seasons to morph into each other, so the garden holds its own all year round.’

Ayus Botanical’s work always seeks to champion the plants, which Greg often hand picks himself from Melbourne-based nurseries or trusted interstate growers. This is then supported by the ‘hard-landscaping’ side of things. Elements like garden paths, paving or gravel are also carefully chosen, as the couple are accurately aware how different sounds and textures below your feet can change the overall feel of the garden.

Their projects are often in the works for years while the planning, sourcing, selection and design takes place, before a usually ‘manic’ 10-week stint onsite, where Greg and his team work on the garden’s installation! ‘The design evolves on location, as much as it does within the studio,’ Karen notes.

Greg says one of the most important things to note when designing a planting scheme is making sure each plant, flower and aspect of the landscape is fit for purpose.

‘The look is important,’ he says. ‘But the garden needs to fit the natural environment, and the people who are going to use it.’

Learn more about Ayus Botanical here.

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