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Like a number of Architecture students, I had a gap year between my Bachelor of Arts (majoring in architecture) and Bachelor of Architecture where I wanted to do some traveling and see all the things I had only seen in art and architecture literature. Flights aren’t cheap, and in order to obtain the needed funds I took on a job as a landscaper. At the time I would have preferred to find a job as a carpenter, as I had a long term goal of completing architecture and becoming a builder or developer, but the opportunity was too good to resist and on reflection was a life changing decision.
I spent most part of a year working outdoors and ‘on the tools’ and simply fell in love with building gardens. I did end up traveling throughout Europe but found myself looking more at the Landscapes and Urban spaces than the Art and Architecture I had studied so closely the previous 3 years. Upon return I decided to continue with my Bachelor of Architecture, completing the degree with honours part time but found myself working more and more in landscaping.
After graduation I worked full time as a landscaper, an odd decision for a graduate one may think, luckily having an employer who would allow me to be a part of the design process encouraging my appetite for design. After a year or so, my desire to design gardens, and not waste my education in architecture led me to apply for a job with Jamie Durie’s award winning landscape architecture company PATIO. I was offered a job with PATIO’s newly opened Melbourne office as a landscape designer and a landscape construction expert. My role with PATIO allowed me to design gardens for small residential clients, large commercial clients and special projects like the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show and Singapore Garden Show as well as being part of the behind the scenes team for Backyard Blitz. Working closely with other talented designers for PATIO we were able to win a number awards for our garden designs at MIFGS and Singapore Garden Show amongst others. PATIO also kindly sent me to NMIT to study Horticulture to sharpen my plant knowledge which I felt was needed to make me a better and more rounded landscaper/designer. Jamie created a vibrant and exciting environment for designers always pushing the limits of landscape design and construction allowing my knowledge base to expand and also giving me the confidence to set out on my own.
Throughout University and whilst landscaping I would complete designs for private residential clients, be it basic architectural concepts or full landscape design and construction drawings for my own small business named Mars Studios. Upon leaving PATIO I set out to design gardens full time from home and was reasonably successful in keeping a steady flow of work yet a common question would come from my clients, “who do we get to build it?” After a while, I had a backlog of un-built gardens and I saw an opportunity to offer my clients a design and construction service where the designer was also the builder, a service which works well for clients as they will receive exactly what was discussed during the design phase. After the first few months the workload grew and I had my father and some friends working for me, but a need for skilled staff was present and I took on my first staff member. Six months later I employed my first apprentice and the staff numbers have steadily increased ever since. Mars Studios is now known as Mars Landscaping and Design and we have a waiting list of over 6 months of clients wanting a quality designed and built garden.
The best part about my job now is the unknown. We have been approached to build gardens interstate, design and construct for major developers and build amazingly individual gardens around great architecture and each phone call is the start of an exciting new journey.
It is extremely important to me that we deliver quality built gardens yet remain affordable to everyday clients and this belief has seen a steady flow of ‘word-of-mouth’ clients, in some cases, building numerous gardens in the one street. We have designed and built gardens ranging in value from $4000 to $400,000 and each garden receives the same attention to detail and passion.