What sparked your career in landscape design?
As a kid, any time I wasn’t in school I was spending time around my family’s nursery business. Later, on weekends and school holidays, I began working in the business. Happily for me, this sparked an early fascination with plants. I wanted to know their botanical names, how they grew, everything!
What fuels your creative process?
My spare time is consumed by many things, but most are garden related. I really enjoy traveling locally and overseas to see different gardens and parks, reading heaps of garden books and magazines. I love to work in my gardens and my father’s gardens – this always fuels creativity.
Can you tell us about a design project that’s particularly noteworthy or challenging?
We’re putting the finishing touches on a complex project in Toorak at the moment. We have installed curated gardens, a large section of paving and a raised pond on top of a recently installed underground car park/basement. So many factors came into play to get this project right, such as weight and drainage. It required meticulous attention to detail.
Why do you think people come to Andrew Stark Garden Design to create their garden?
I have been well known for designing and building formal gardens. However, over the past five years I’ve moved away from this specific garden style and evolved a new way of thinking – a fresh design ethos. My approach now is more stylised and incorporates some typical formal elements blended with relaxed plantings, perennials and colourful flowers. I find this far more interesting and exciting, and my clients seem to as well.
Describe your design process. Is it client led, or do you endeavour to include your own style?
In most cases I lead the design path and work to complement the architecture of a house, the local climate and the aspect. I inject my own style as much as possible; sometimes the client has specific needs and I work these into the design.
Do you have favourite go-to plants?
I have a selection of preferred plants to use in specific situations. I also have favourite plants which I encourage my clients to use to create the ‘look’ we’re wanting to achieve.
Some of my favorite plants at the moment are:
- Buxus japonica – (Japanese box) – I love the glossy lush foliage
- Raphiolepis indica 'Snow Maiden' (dwarf Indian hawthorn) – Really enjoying this new(ish) dwarf form of Indian hawthorn – just love the small dark green leaves and its compact habit
- Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata' (upright growing hornbeam) – Beautiful small growing tree with delicate ribbed leaves…
While we’re on favourites, do you have a favourite Martin Kellock Pots and Planters pot?
I like to use the XL French style urn finished in the Glacier or Sand glaze. These are robust, quality pots that suit my style of gardens.
Tips for linking an exterior space with the interiors of a home?
It’s critical to link the garden with the house. I create site lines or an axis from a major vantage point in the home and then extend this out into the garden. Plants and paving are strung along these lines to create depth and perspective. To complete the look, I usually place a key feature at the end of the axis such as a large pot or water fountain. I use a lot of square and rectangular paving stones in big-size formats and love to incorporate urn-style pots (e.g. the XL French urn). Additional texture is achieved with interesting foliage shapes and colours.
What industry trends are you seeing right now?
I am always excited to see what new plant varieties are released each season. I travel to the Chelsea Flower Show each year to see what new perennials and grasses have been discovered or made available. I’m constantly visiting nurseries seeing what’s new and rare. There are many new paving materials and garden features to keep things interesting. Another trend is the need for an ‘instant garden’. This is a very exciting process that requires care and well-thought out design, construction and planting installation.