MIFGS 2023: Urban Wild by Josie Wilson and Suzannah Kennett Lister

Describe your garden in 5 words

Climate adaptable, biodiverse urban sanctuary.

Which plant was the hero of your garden and why?

This is a tricky question as we think the strength of our garden came through the combination of plants, rather than from the impact of one or two major features. We did however get more than a few questions about the Cussonia paniculata which could definitely stake a claim for the hero of the garden. It is tough, beautiful and textural. A plant that definitely deserves a broader audience.

What was an obstacle you had to overcome and how did you do it?

An obstacle? You want us to choose just one?! It’s safe to say that as designers, we certainly didn’t anticipate how much time we’d personally be spending on the tools in the lead up to and during bump in. We had great support from a few lecturers, but it was occasionally dispiriting to look over at a rival institution, only to see their hoards of apprentices. They appeared at times to be applying the same amount of people power one might have used to build a small pyramid, while we were passing 4 tools between the 6 of us and foraging for useful off-cuts in the skip. We did however, step back from a successful build feeling more capable, confident and adaptable than before we started, and we’d managed to make something we were proud of in the process.

What piece of feedback will you always remember?

The week went past in such a blur that in all honesty it is hard to recall specific feedback. The feedback we found most gratifying came from the people who told us our garden was a place they’d happily stay all day. That it was a place that made them feel at ease. A garden they could see themselves living in. Many others commented on and appreciated our use of plants; the sense of scale and tone and texture. Given plants are our primary love, this recognition was very affirming.

The stage is yours, what do you want to say?

MIFGS is a very wild ride. We came away from it proud, exhausted and feeling a little like we’d seen behind the curtain and learnt the shocking truth. But the other thing we learnt was how generous and supportive the industry can be. Greater collaboration between the horticultural and design industries is on the way, and is crucial to ensuring both can navigate and adapt to a changing climate.


Answers provided by Suzannah Kennett Lister

Photo credits to Nathan Stolz

SKL Gardens Instagram Here

Josie Wilson Landscape Design Instagram Here


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