Japan Gardening World Cup
Whaaaaaaat!!!! We came Second!!! Ross U Design and Landscape our proud to announce they are the winners of second place at the 2015 Japan Gardening World Cup also known as the World Flower Garden Show.
2nd Place!!!!!! All finished. Well the construction and the awards anyway. Still some media to go
First thing is first. I need to give a big thank you to everyone that helped out with this project. It wouldn’t have happened without you. Some people say that, but I genuinely mean it. The day we joined in with construction we got a few surprises and we realised that we weren’t just going to be standing around out the front of the site drinking sake and telling the constructors where to rotate the grass 27 degrees and 4mm to the left. Mayhew from Paal Grant Designs in Landscaping gave us a hand the first couple of days and said to Sean from Bayon Gardens “You just wait on the last day Ross will have 40 people from who knows where helping out”
And he was right. In my usually fashion on the last day I had 4 different construction companies working on the garden and designers from 6 different countries who were our competitors pitching in, beer in hand in the pouring rain.
Then there were all of the sponsors, Ecooutdoor, Prime Designs Metal Work and Bayon Gardens. Then there were all of the crowd funders who made it possible for me to buy some power tools on the fly, new weather proof ply, grasses that filled the space, and choose a fantastic gnarled incredibly old Lagerstroemia indica as the feature tree.
Next I need to thank all my students and colleagues back at home who have allowed me to get away and take up this great opportunity.
So if you want to know the story of how things went. Follow along here.
I started drawing this garden half a year ago now. I decided on the shapes really quickly and decided it would be a great chance to explore a table design that I was hoping to use for the lovely Dianne and Amaryll one of my favourite clients back at home. At this stage it didn’t have a lot of polish (by not a lot of polish, there was not an ounce of polish anywhere to be seen). We had a party at my place and I stole a guest to write my design statement. We finished it with whisky coated ramblings and sent it off 2 minutes before the deadline (thankfully we had a good internet connection).
Now fast forward 6 months and it is an award winning garden and I am drinking whisky with my new friend and designer Alejandro O’Neill from Uruguay. We are spending our days learning about Japanese design and ecology. We have been lucky enough to get taken around by some famous Japanese designers and had private tours and explanations of their gardens. We are just starting to scratch the surface. Next we will head up into the mountains on a small island where we will see some trees that are approximately 3000 years old (yep that is a lot of zeros). I can’t wait.
After eight days of intense construction we came out the other side with second place at the World Flower & Garden Show / Japan Gardening World Cup!!!
I arrived in Japan on the 21st of September after leaving the day before on my birthday. 2 days later I was having my first peek at the site. I was a touch alarmed and I knew it was going to be a big week at this point.
I arrived in Sasebo to be greeted by Ayaka (the best translator in the world / cosmos) who took me back to the residence I would be staying at with the construction team for the time of the build. We had a party on the floor of their room with me sitting half way out a doorway to fit in. We drank and laughed for hours. It was the perfect introduction.
On the 24th the first day on site as a constructor Sean Dowling from Bayon Gardens in Australia arrived to help out (Wow we would have been in some serious trouble without him). He took a bus straight from the airport to the construction site, put down his luggage, changed clothes in the car and got straight to work. We had a quick meeting about the safety of some of the elements as we were extremely nervous about the weight of the stone Eco outdoor had supplied on the wall. 20 minutes later the structure was being pulled down and we were ordering concrete for that afternoon to start again. We made a trip to the local hardware store to get some power tools and started preparing the frames with help from Mayhew of Paal Grant Designs in Landscaping who received the design award for innovation at the show.
For the whole 8 days of construction we were miles behind the other teams of which some had already nearly finished upon our arrival. We tried not to focus on that and just get on with the task at hand. But some of the stone work on the other sites was amazing and I couldn’t help but look.
We slogged away and things looked like they were getting back on track by day 6. I finally got some time to get of site with two days let to go and find a feature tree from a local supplier and it was craned into the centre of our table an hour later. But alas were then graced with the presence of something that felt a hell of a lot what I think a minor typhoon would resemble. We had to finish the frame and then build a make shift tent over the whole site as quick as we could continue working with power tools and paint. But the rain was coming in sideways. We had a huge crew of people holding up covers while 2 people stained timber followed closely behind by a hair dryer. On the final night we had a crew of about 15 people helping out. We only started putting the first of the plants in at about 7pm five hours before the end of construction. We had designers and construction workers from 6 of the different competitors helping out beer in hand digging in the plants. Alejandro from Uruguay was unbelievable support the whole way through.
So finally we were finished and it was time to celebrate. The awards ceremony was like nothing I had ever experienced before. We walked down a red carpet within the gardens sparkling white in hand, greeted by Ukrainian opera singers before we gave tours of our gardens.
It was such a relief that our garden was finished and we were finally able to just relax and enjoy ourselves. We sat at our table drinking and eating merrily. It seemed like there were as many chefs as guests at this gala (Not the ideal spread for a vegetarian, but I got some great food). As the awards started to be given out I turned to the English designer next to me and said “What is going on? If I had just got 3rd prize I would have been jumping out of my seat screaming, hell I would be doing that for coming 8th” Just as I had finished saying this the announcer stumbled outout “2nd prize from Australia Mr Rose.…. Uberaaang” or something that sounded almost like my name. I turned to the best translator in the cosmos Ayaka with a confused look. Her eyes light up ‘That is you’ to which I replied ‘Whaaaaaaat! Are you sure’ or something along those lines ‘Yes, you’
I promptly stood up and started screaming like a crazy person and everyone at the table joined in. I sat down and then asked the Ayaka to confirm that I had actually won something and what it was approximately 7 times.
The ceremony finished and the obvious progression was to continue the celebrations in a Karaoke bar situated inside a Dutch Replica Village. We sang our hearts out before we trekked back to our garden with a heap of other designers and a film crew and sat drinking sake in the early hours of the morning.
It still hasn’t sunk in properly. But I am really grateful. I am still one of the luckiest guys in the world.
Can’t wait to go back again next year. I have been hinting really hard to the organisers and researching materials and techniques with a local designer. If you would like to get involved with the project, come over and build it, or sponsor the next garden let me know. I would love to have you on board!!!
An Indian adventure that started on a whim has launched Melbourne-based landscape designer Ross Uebergang on to the world stage.
Chance meetings and new friends made on this odyssey of landscape have sent Ross on his way to Japan as one of two Australian representatives at the 2015 Gardening World Cup, which will feature entrants from more than 30 countries all responding to the theme, “my country, my culture”.
Ross’ response, the Tea Garden, is the next chapter for a crafty landscape designer who has form – including as winner of the Don Fleming Award at the 2012 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show and a top-four finisher in the popular Melbourne event’s 2014 Boutique category. The journey has involved months of hard work, some inspiration from the subcontinent and a fusion of Australian indigenous and Japanese culture to create The Tea Garden.
For Ross, the Tea Garden forms a place to stop and recapture the sounds of a slower life more in-tune with nature; producing a landscape made to be enjoyed. It draws on ideas and observations he has picked up on his travels.
“Australia’s ability to connect and work together as one has allowed us to achieve unimaginable advancements, and yet that frenzy has created so much noise that we don’t know the sound of our own heartbeat,” Ross said. “The Tea Garden is envisaged as a place to recapture that sound.”
The design includes a fabricated metal firepit as its centrepiece, a unique element that Ross designed from a CAD drawing folded into 16 wedges and treated using a process Ross picked up on his travels around the world to deliver an industrial charm.
“The design is laden with industrial tones in the built forms that are devoid of colour, which is a real contrast to the rich green shades of the plants that surround them.”
The garden’s built items including the bespoke firepit built with assistance from Prime Designs Metalwork and stone from Eco Outdoor will be shipped to Japan, ready for the garden to be assembled with locally supplied. As part of the event, the gardens can be purchased directly from the site; meaning the Tea Garden may live on.
Outside gardening on the world stage, Ross teaches landscape design at the University of Melbourne and Swinburne TAFE, along with running his own design business.
In line with his easy smile, Ross is keeping his ambitions for his trip typically low-key. “Ideally I will have a street in Nagasaki named after me by the time I leave,” he jokes, “but I will settle for a really good time, a chance to learn and explore the local culture and share some of my lessons. I’m constantly surprised at how small the world is and what can come from a conversation when you enter it with a smile on your face.”
The Gardening World Cup will be held in Nagasaki from 3-18 October 2015 in Nagasaki. Ross is one of two Australian representatives, joining Paal Grant in a friendly, green-thumbed rivalry.