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In April and May, one of Australia's pre-eminent personalities Jamie Durie is leading a tour called 'Go Natural, Go Dunedin' to one of New Zealand's most amazing regions, Dunedin.
As part of the promotion for this trip Jamie has been undertaking various interviews and I was lucky enough to be afforded the opportunity to interview him here at AussieGreenThumb.com. Here goes.
AGT - How did you get into gardening?
Jamie Durie – I studied horticulture for about 4 and a half years and have been addicted ever since. It’s been great.
I never expected to be in a career like this which has enabled me to travel so much but I have to say it is an extremely rewarding career. It’s awesome!
AGT – What made you do horticulture to start with?
Jamie Durie – Well initially I was in the entertainment business and I had been touring for many years. I worked in Las Vegas for many years as a performer. I designed stage shows, sets, costumes and choreography and all that sort of stuff for quite a few years in some of Las Vega’s biggest show rooms.
We toured through Europe and all that sort of stuff and I was starting to get a greater affinity for European architecture and it could have been a close call between architecture and landscape design.
In the end I decided to take this path because I felt like it was doing more for the environment and was a more challenging role and it was something very close to my heart having worked in show bizz for so many years, I guess I was kind of craving to get back to the earth.
AGT - If you could have your time over, what do you wish you knew when you first started?
Jamie Durie – I don’t really think I would change a thing. I’m really happy with the way everything is going actually, though I wouldn’t mind a few more days off, other than that I don’t think I’d really change a thing, I am really happy.
It’s a pretty rewarding career and you get to meet a lot of rather extraordinary people and you know I’ve been able to travel, work with some amazing architects.
AGT - What tip would you give to gardeners that are just starting out?
Jamie Durie - For beginners my general rule is to design with shapes first and plants later on. Don’t get bogged down by the botanical name.
We’re all very much spatially aware and know what it is like to sit in a lounge room with four walls around us and the Outdoor Room philosophy really just focus’ on building outdoor environments that are more human gardens rather than something that you kind of glance at from the kitchen window and never actually walk out amongst.
It’s really about seducing people into the back yard rather than creating gardens that serve a purely ornamental purpose.
AGT – What are the top benefits of choosing Australian Native Plants?
Jamie Durie – Well as you know climate change is well and truly upon us now and the skeptics are slowly getting weeded out and so planting native plants is probably one of the most important things that we can do at this stage in our environmental path.
You only have to look at the US where over 32 of their state flowers and trees have actually moved out of their native territory due to climate change so you couple that with development and the fact you have a lot of hungry developers taking down trees and making way for more urban population around the world and you have a problem.
Then you have a lot of irresponsible planting where a lot of European species have been imported and bought into the country and used unwisely, you’re weeding out a lot of what Australia really stands for. I think it is about time that we started falling in love with our own backyards again.
In Australia we have some of the most robust, beautiful native species on the plant. You know, we live in a most extraordinary place and if you go back to my original idea which was using shapes first and plants later on, you can find a native plant to suit any particular shape that you want.
Whether you want to put it up a wall, or as a screen or a shade tree, or use it as a ground cover or divider or an accent plant, they all really do fit into category. It is about embracing the plants natural architecture rather than imposing our architecture on them.
I try to steer people away from clipping plants into the shape of a poodle and that sort of thing and actually start embracing their natural architecture.
AGT – What would be the first tip you would give to a gardener who was thinking about going native?
Jamie Durie – I would encourage them to talk to the local gardeners, local experts, talk to people who have been in the area where you live and find out what grows best in the area.
More often than not you can grow from seed or tube stock and you’ll find that you don’t have to introduce pesticides or herbicides to grow what grows best in your area.
It is all about getting local knowledge, its about starting off with more robust species and working your way up to some of the more challenging species Most natives love well drained soil.
Keep everything well mulched and protected from frosty winds. Keep everything well ventilated. Keep the plants immune systems strong.
AGT – What are you most looking forward to with your trip to Dunedin?
Jamie Durie – Just travelling with a passionate group of people who are interested in learning about the area. Maybe finding a few species that I wasn’t aware of before. I think that is one of the great things about being in this career is that you can always find something new.
I am also looking forward to meeting a few of the locals and getting to enjoy some of the local cuisine and soak up some of the architecture. It is a pretty historical city Dunedin.
AGT – Why should beginner gardeners consider going on the trip?
Jamie Durie – I think it is one of those extreme places that will just inspire you to get gardening. Dunedin has native species there that just don’t exist anywhere else and really it is kind of a unique way to be introduced to gardening.
If a garden can grow in Dunedin which is a pretty tough, chilly environment then you really can grow a garden anywhere.