MIFGS Feature: Gina Robertson

Hi I’m Gina

By Gina Robertson

Photo by Bernard Romerona

Hi I’m Gina! I have always loved plants and being outdoors as long as I can remember.  My family are from the Western district of Victoria where I spent my childhood exploring productive kitchen gardens and paddocks, volcanic grasslands, coastal dunes and dry woodlands.

Later, I moved to tropical north Queensland, then coastal scrublands of South Australia and then settled in Melbourne. Living in these places, I learned about seasons, soils, and weather. I discovered new plants and had fun growing them. It wasn’t until much later, when I was working long hours managing projects in an office that I realised that I was longing to be outside in the parks and gardens.  I decided to make a career change.

I studied Horticulture at Melbourne Polytechnic’s Fairfield campus with heritage gardens and nearby Yarra River parklands. I was inspired by the passionate teachers and found my place among the plants in the nursery. Since completing my Certificate IV in Horticulture, I enrolled in Certificate IV in Landscape Design to expand my design and landscape knowledge.  I also spent time working as a nursery hand and later I managed a retail nursery. Last year I started my business New Foliage Garden Design specialising in residential gardens and I’m loving it!

In 2019, when I was studying Horticulture, I won a student design competition and was offered a place in the Achievable Garden Competition at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in 2020. Eventually the show went ahead in March 2022, and I was ecstatic to win 3 awards; First Place, Best Use of Plant Life and People’s Choice.

The design I brought to life for the garden show was a modern Australian outdoor garden entitled ‘Balance by Nature’. It was designed to entice you into a relaxed garden to reconnect with nature and imagine remote places. The curved and sculptural red earth coloured walls redefined the shape of the 5 x 4 metre garden and concealed elevated planter boxes. Building the seemingly continuous wall was a construction feat.

Walls aside, this garden was all about the plants. I wanted to use a selection of Australian native plants that were not typically used in most gardens would attract wildlife. They had to be suitable for a small, sunny moderately dry, Melbourne garden, provide year-round seasonal interest and not outgrow the space.  I carefully chose plants that would draw your eye around the garden while keeping the balance between mass and void within such a small space.

Like many designers, I bought and borrowed many plants for the show, but I was thrilled to propagate Myoporum parvifolium, Chrysocephalum apiculatum and tiles of Dichondra repens at Melb Poly’s nursery.  I also set up a mini nursery in my backyard containing plants that I purchased in 2019. 

Meeting plant growers and visiting nurseries across Melbourne to choose plants was one of the most enjoyable parts of the process. There were a lot of tough choices to be made, and I had to have backup choices in case their stock failed. It was a great experience preparing my garden and exhibiting at the show. I have met so many passionate ‘plant and garden’ people who have welcomed me into the hort community.

 

My links

newfoliagegardendesign.com.au

https://www.instagram.com/newfoliagegardendesign/

https://www.facebook.com/newfoliagegardendesign-111612061354583

 

My sponsors

All Green Nursery

Habitat Program, Hobsons Bay City Council

Newport Lakes Native Nursery

OzWater Plants

Humphris Nursery

Melbourne Polytechnic

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