In the Loop: Japan Garden and Flower Show

Huis Ten Bosch

The Japan Garden and Flower Show (also known as the Gardening World Cup) is the largest and most prestigious flower show in Japan hosted annually at the beautiful resort theme park “Huis Ten Bosch” in Nagasaki, Japan.

Now in its sixth year, the show has featured numerous renowned designers including Australian Jim Fogarty. The workmanship by Japanese contractors has consistently received accolades from designers for their relentless work ethic, high standards and attention to detail.

With teams of dedicated translators and interpreters, the show provides a unique opportunity for international designers to test their landscape design prowess on the world stage.

Currently in Japan, there is high demand for quality, diverse yet practical designs for residential gardens. Clients in Japan and in other Asian markets are looking to make the most of their limited landscape and outdoor areas with unique designs which enrich their own lifestyles. To cater to such needs, the show will be displaying a variety of international garden styles to give Japanese garden enthusiasts a glimpse of the various styles and latest trends with an attractive line up of residential landscape designs. And one of those designs has been created by our very own Ross Uebergang from Rossu.

Ross is a truly unique individual. He is a gentle soul who cares more for others development and welfare than his own. He is a happy wanderer that embraces people, culture, the environment and thrives on the experiences that are thrown his way. Today, we discover more about Ross and how he secured his spot on a global stage representing Australian landscape design.

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I am a lucky man with a fairly big smile and no ambition to start standing still. My background was in childcare where I found a love for plants through creation of vegetable gardens working at a school.

In 2012, that love combined with hours of sweat went into a garden that won the Don Fleming Award at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. Many plants and gardens later, I still feel very lucky. I have an ultra-small business that designs and constructs boutique gardens around the world with a portable office in Melbourne, Australia. I try to complete no more than a handful of gardens in a year for clients who wish to have a considered garden created with love and understanding while having some fun.

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My practice is about people and place: I strive to make a meaningful connection with the client and their land, their past, present and future, creating a sustainable, evocative garden that captures the emotions we want to feel in the space.

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For much of the year, I back up my business teaching at universities, designing and constructing. I then follow my nose completing all of the projects that I would not get the chance to otherwise do, honing my skills and learning from other cultures.

I believe that plants are the most important and rewarding part of any garden, and that gardens can be beautiful, functional yet also sustainable.

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Plants aren’t just a garnish. They are the givers of our breath, the source of our food. They are the gatekeepers of life. Plantings, ecology and sustainability can be incorporated into the functional elements of any space and not just be perceived as an opportunity cost.

How did this opportunity in World Cup of Gardening come about?

I will preface this by saying that I am an extremely lucky human. People who know me will understand what I’m talking about, things just seem to work out.

I was travelling around in India a couple of years ago and ended up at a symposium on Culture in Landscape on a whim while on my way to a natural building workshop.  Somehow I got thrown in with the presenters and a couple of days later I’m on the news with a lady called Yuko talking about the impact new industry was going to have on a bird sanctuary and lake in the state of Gujarat.

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Two weeks later I find myself in Varanasi in part of a team from a Universities in U.S. and India making a presentation to the mayor about interventions at the Ghats, which is probably one of the holiest sites in India. It turns out Yuko was a translator for a garden competition in Japan. I was asked to put in a competition entry and then the entry was accepted.

What inspired you to submit an entry into the show?

I am pretty easy to get excited.  So that was never an issue.  I’m also quite conscious of time.  I’m in my 30’s now which in layman’s terms means I’m practically dead.  It’s a beautiful world and there are so many fantastic things to do and I really want to get all of the ideas out of my head in garden design as quick as I possibly can.  I assume that I will get an idea for a new career soon and want to get a lot done before then.  I’m awful at marketing myself so these kind of things are great way to get publicity and then increase the pool of jobs that you get to choose from as well as increase credibility (inordinately in my case). I am a one man band who loves being part of the construction and I teach part of the week.  This means four gardens in a year is a lot for me and I want to make every one of them something worthwhile that I can be proud of.  I want to be in a position where I only have to do jobs that are interesting, new and the clients are fun.  I also try to only work for money for about three-quarters of the year so that I can travel around and work on projects and learn things that I wouldn’t get the chance to normally.

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Tell us about your garden, The Tea Garden. What is brief?

My Country, My Culture. I have taken this in a fairly different direction. I could speak a lot about our culture. But it wouldn’t be mine. I could tell you about the surface of our indigenous past. But I didn’t live it.

Culture is now. Culture is fluid like our overworked rivers, its currents and eddies reflecting our moves on its surface. We as ‘Australians’ are a young post-colonial country disconnected from our land. Our continent is famously dry and yet in other ways we are taking on water faster than we can bucket it out. Our ability to connect and work together as a being has allowed us to achieve unimaginable advancements and yet that being’s frenzy has created so much noise that we don’t even know what our heartbeat sounds like anymore.

The Tea Garden is envisaged as a place to capture that sound. The design speaks to Australia’s place within Asia, while using the image of the circle as a centring force of being. This design is laden with industrial tones in the built forms that are devoid of colour. It speaks of design limited by a computer’s ability – and the computer pilot’s inability to keep abreast of ever-changing tools.   The table is a result of a computerised circle tool that divides this perfect shape into line segments as not to tax the poor CPU too much. By contrast, the fire pit is a rough deformation of a segmented circle that is simple enough for laser cutting and folding because it would cost too much to have someone stand there and cut it. The materials come from everywhere except Australia.

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The plants bring the vibrancy to the design. The plants form the systems that work regardless of us. In Australia it is common to spend all your money on your dwelling and then improvise something in the garden area as an afterthought. Here, the plants the unfinished areas of the space but they form the eco-system and they give the garden a new sense of scale and enclosure.

The Tea Garden is a place to slow down and reconnect with your people and country (land). If you sit still, slow down, and listen to the land maybe you will find some answers to the questions that no one seems to be asking anymore.

What was your inspiration?

To be honest I started with a table that I was already going to be building for clients in Melbourne next year, the lovely Dianne and Amaryll, as a centre piece, as a chance to explore the idea a little more.  I didn’t really have ideas or a lot of time to put into the design so I just decided to push something out (you’ve got to be in it to win it).  One of my students chose the layout of the site from a few drafts in a library at Burnley (thanks Erica) the day before it was due. I then commandeered a friend from a party at my house to write the description of the garden at 11:30pm, half an hour before the deadline (thanks Ruby).  I gave her some terrible ideas that I thought would tick the boxes, 20 minutes later I was inserting it into my document and PDFing it and had it emailed off two minutes before the deadline.  I pressed send full of whisky and with no real attachment to the design.

I then found out I got into the competition a month later.  Since then I have been frantically working to force some magic into the design. I’ve changed every single plant in the design and reworked the main elements and two-thirds of the surfaces.  I have also changed the concept to something that actually means something to me which is making it a lot easier to work on.  The details are where success is made.  

Who is constructing it for you?

I have an interpreter and a construction team over there.  I’ve also already shipped off a fire pit, table and some stone.  I’m praying it arrives (the second series of ‘The Wire’ set on the docks is making me a touch nervous).

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Prime Designs Metalwork also helped me construct the fire pit and table.  They were fantastic.  The fire pit was laser cut off a CAD drawing and then folded into 16 wedges which were then welded together.  I used Liver of Sulphur and heated up the steel with a blow torch, sprayed it on and buffed it into the surface to get the clean steel to look a bit more industrial (the same process for the table (thank you to Rakesh, my fake antique and oxidisation specialist from Nepal for the recipe)).

What are you wanting to gain from the experience?

Ideally I will be accepted widely in Japan as an international treasure and have a street in Nagasaki named after me by the time I leave….. but I will settle for a really good time, a chance to learn a few things and some great snacks.  I’m lucky that I get to go across with one of my mates Paal Grant who is coincidentally Australia’s other representative.  He gave me my start in the industry only a few years back and is always around to help me out.  I want to get stuck in to the culture and it would be fantastic if I got do some work over in Japan in the future.

I’m constantly surprised at how small the world is and what can come from a conversation when you have an inappropriately large smile on your face.

I would like to thank Prime Designs Metalwork and Eco Outdoor for the help and sponsorship.

If you would like to help Ross achieve the best possible result, you can assist him by making even the smallest of contributions via www.pozible.com/rossu. Every cent would be appreciated.

We will cover Ross’s progress leading up to the show, during the construction phase and of course, the results! Good luck Ross!


The short of it…

Who:  
Ross Uebergang
What:  
Landscape Design, Landscape Construction
Where:
Melbourne, Geelong and surrounds
Contact:
www.rossu.com.au