Take a look at the students who represented the University of Melbourne in the 2016 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.

'Kidsense' - Second prize

Fiona Webber, Master of Urban Horticulture

A child's world is one of imagination, exploration and discovery - especially in the garden

Kidsense Project
Kidsense Project
Kidsense Project

Fiona Webber's installation 'Kidsense' in a sensory garden for children, showcasing the way in which enhanced an play garden can be achieved in even the smallest city courtyard, and on a budget, by incorporating sensory elements appealing to children and by thoughtfully selecting accessible plants.

'Kidsense' delves into a child's world of imagination, becoming a space of shape, texture, colour, taste, smell and sound. It invites little visitors to disappear down a spiral tunnel and feel the crunchy then soft textures underfoot, before emerging on hands and knees into the sweet pod cubby, where they can snuggle up in the cosy enclosure and watch light patterns through the woven roof. Then run, explore, stretch out and wriggle on the chamomile lawn, collect seed pods to inspect on the wide, flat rock, pick flowers and pull them apart in this truly interactive installation.

Fiona's plant palette consist of familar plants that are easily and affordably attainable, and that appeal to children and heighten their sensory experience in the garden.

'The Golden Afternoon' - Third prize

Jaz Rhodes, Associate Degree in Urban Horticulture

Our urban spaces are our private oases - a place to wonder and dream

The Golden Afternoon project
The Golden Afternoon project
The Golden Afternoon project
The Golden Afternoon project
The Golden Afternoon project

Inspired by the whimsical landscape imagery of childhood films such as Alice in Wonderland and The Secret Garden, Jaz Rhode's installation 'The Golden Afternoon' uses a textural palette interspersed with delicate floral displays, forming a vegetative deamscape designed to evoke a sense of wonder.

Plant selection focuses on highly contrasting textures in a muted palette of green, grey, purple and burgundy, with splashes of white. Inventive use of natural and recycled materials such as tree branches and second-hand mirrors add an element of eccentricity and childhood fun to the garden, whilst maintaining achievability for the home gardener.

Climatic conditions were also considered during plant selection, forming a palette that can thrive in the Melbourne home garden.

Jaz chose to reflect on the mental and emotional benefits she felt when immersed in nature when developing her design - discovery, wonder, adventure, clarity, peace and calm. The concept of 'childlike wonder' was particularly important to her.

"I believe that being in a garden has great power to imbue a sense of inner peace which often isn't felt amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life — a feeling which is familiar to children but can be lost as we get older" Jaz says.

Jaz has selected a muted colour palette for her plants, with the simplicity of the colours allowing the texture to really shine. She also really eanted to focus on using natural material in her design, and avoid it looking 'built'. Because of this (and, as a student, economical reasons), she sourced materials from around her yard - "I think that if you really take the time to look around, you usually find that nature has provided just what you need!"

About Jaz Rhodes

"I am 26 years old, grew up in the Yarra Valley, and up until studying the Associate Degree of Urban Horticulture I worked in fashion retail. My hobbies include drawing, painting, playing piano, cooking, working in my veggie garden and hanging out with my cat.

Despite my parents being avid gardeners, my interest in horticulture didn’t develop until I started growing my own veggies about six years ago. The physical, mental and emotional benefits of being outdoors and working with nature led me to the Associate Degree at Burnley. I graduated in December of last year, and I am now about to commence the Bachelor of Environments at Parkville.

I grew up in an artistic family, so design was a natural choice for me, and has allowed me to marry my visual communication skills with my desire to contribute to a healthy earth and society. Through my further study I am keen to explore the innovative ways in which design and horticulture can be implemented to create more successful green spaces, both public and private."

'Brolga Bush Dance' - Boutique Gardens entry

Heather Forward, Master of Urban Horticulture

A rocky outcrop, stream, isolated woodland, arid plants and dancing brolgas tell a story of life and death in outback Australia

Brolga Bush Dance project
Brolga Bush Dance project
Brolga Bush Dance project

After winning first place in the 2015 'Avenue of Achievable Gardens' competition, Heather Forward is now displaying her boutique garden at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show, funded and supported by Landscape Victoria.

'Brolga Bush Dance' is inspired by Heather's extensive travels through Queensland and New South Wales, and observations of the ever-changing landscape. Her intent with this design was the capture a small piece of the Australian woodland in all of its stark, harsh and unique beauty, with every component of the design forming part of an Australian story of life, renewal and death.

Plants have been selected to reflect a dry landscape theme, and colours and textures of the plants and the structures interact throughout the installation. Blue-grey, silver and bronze is reflected aganist the warm tones of the rock, and brighter tones glimmer by the side of the stream. The hard rock surfaces offset and contrast with the softer plant textures. The intent of this planting is to convey not only a rich variety of Australian natives, but also their incredible ability to survive and thrive in the landscape.

Heather's installation uses found materials, including recycled cardboard, driftwood and feathers, with all components hand-sculpted, assembled and painted.