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.’