The Urban Horticulture Research Group is a newly formed group of academic staff with a focus on the design and management of gardens and urban landscapes. A key focus is the selection, use and performance of designed vegetation, from public landscapes through to residential gardens, particularly in relation to available resources, maintenance and questions of success and sustainability
We use the Burnley Gardens as a research resource with our findings on plant performance regularly incorporated into the Burnley Plant Guide , a database of more than 2700 plant taxa that forms a vital tool for teaching and research. Our research includes more general aspects of nursery production, plant culture and consumer horticulture and we regularly partner with local government, industry bodies and community organisations. We also research into the role design and design history plays in landscape, including participation in engagement activities that integrate designers with site and community.
Our research is helping to improve decision making around landscape design and plant selection. We recently partnered with local government and industry professionals, to produce the Growing Green Guide , a guide to the design, construction and maintenance of green roofs, walls and facades. The Guide includes rationales and recommendations for plant selections for these novel and often challenging growing environments and was recognised with a Research and Communication Award at the 2014 Victorian AILA Awards. Our Novel Crops Research Project will broaden crop choice for home and community gardeners and public open space managers, by including species popular with, and sold by, diverse ethnic communities in Melbourne but which are not yet mainstream e.g. Kang Kong, Yam, Taro, Cassava, and Amaranth. Overall, research in this group will improve the delivery of landscape design practices with the emphasis on designing for place and function that focus’ on specific community needs, contribute to the quality of urban environment management practices and influence the policy and decision-making capacity of future managers of urban environments.
- Dr. Sue Murphy (Senior Tutor / Lecturer, Plant Identification), Sue's research activities ocus on the development of selection criteria for plants and assessment tools for their performance in designed spaces, to enable designers to create maintainable and sustainable urban landscapes.
- Mr. John Rayner (Senior Lecturer in Urban Horticulture), John’s research interests are in urban landscape management, including planting design and plant selection, green roofs and facades and therapeutic landscapes.
- Ms. Kirsten Raynor (Lecturer in Urban Horticulture), Kirsten's research interests currently lie with the physiological traits of South African pelargoniums and the issues around appropriate plant selection and use for landscape functions.
- Ms. Annette Warner, Annette Warner's research is situated in the field of historic and contemporary garden and landscape practice, with a focus on the role of beauty and aesthetics in the making of the natural Australian garden.
- Dr. Chris Williams (Lecturer in Urban Horticulture), Chris Williams researches social, cultural and technical aspects of urban agriculture, with a focus on crop diversification and the experience of migrant groups in food gardening.
- Ms. Lia DeGruchy, Masters of Urban Horticulture (Project B), Lia De Gruchy is researching ways to improve vegetation management in public housing estates, through a case study of open space at the Richmond high-rise apartments.
- Ms. Peta Glenn, Masters of Urban Horticulture (Project A), Plant selection and climate change in the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.