Member Spotlight: Meet Christian Jenkins MAIH RH0157

Christian Jenkins MAIH RH0157 recently became our newest Regional Convenor for the Victoria region. Christian is a highly-regarded landscape design specialist based in gorgeous Grovedale, right near Geelong in Victoria. With its proximity to Port Phillip Bay and the Great Ocean Road, Christian services clients throughout Victoria.

With an impressive array of awards, Christian is well-known in the landscape sector. His designs have been recognised with two awards in 2019: the People’s Choice Award for the ‘Dreaming’ garden and the SILVER Gilt Award at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, as well as Gold at the New Zealand Flower and Garden Show 2018 winning Design Excellence, and Horticultural Excellence Awards and Gold in 2017.

 

Christian Jenkins MAIH RH0157 landscape design specialist. Image: Christian Jenkins Landscape Design.

 

Hello Christian! Tell us how you started out and built up a successful career in horticulture and landscape?

From a young age, my home duties were mowing the three-quarter acre lawn with the push mower, long summers at the beach, and being surrounded by nature created my love of the outdoors. I applied for an apprenticeship as a curator at a private school and missed out – he explained that a job as a gardener would shortly be available. For the next two years l was based at the Ivanhoe Grammar School gardens, and I attended Burnley College studying Horticulture with a love of garden design.

I spent many years with a wonderful landscaper who helped me find my craft in construction, design and horticulture. In 2003 I created my first Show Garden at MIFGS – something happened at that time, being in this creative forum surrounded by a wonderful selection of 100 year old trees, next to the city, in autumn the energy is addictive!

This led me to creating nine garden shows in a row, returning to do another seven from 2015 with two in New Zealand. This forum allows one to create garden designs that are more playful than I would generally create for clients. The awards and exposure that MIFGS has given me has helped my career.

 

‘Japanese Garden’ This Gold Medal Winning Garden was constructed for the New Zealand International Flower and Garden show in 2017. Surrounded by a lush green tapestry of tropical plant life, this boutique resort style garden includes an island style hut with contemporary furnishings. Image: Christian Jenkins Landscape Design.

 

What inspires and influences your award-winning design solutions?

Last year’s design at MIFGS “Dreaming” featured a sculptural metal pergola in the shape of a leaf. I also designed and built a 1.7m high sculptural egg that was painted by an Aboriginal artist from Uluru.

Getting back to the question, I am at the stage in my designing career where nature inspires me, without a doubt the greatest designer of all! As we are all horticultural enthusiasts I am inspired daily. The wonderful forms of dried seed pods amaze me with their artistry and I often think I would love a life-sized pod in the garden or how I could make one. Finding a point of difference as a designer is always the challenge, and most of all I like to challenge myself with the design concept. I love architecture and my designs generally include an outdoor room or sitting structure of some sort.

My love of water is always included in my designs with the reflective qualities the water brings, the calming influences and the wonderful soothing sound constantly brings me back to working with this medium. Functionality is also a major priority for my gardens, and I ensure that people can always enter my gardens and go on a journey to a calming sitting place.

To win awards at garden shows you must be fortunate to have wonderful plant sponsors, so displaying a wonderful selection of plants and trees of the highest quality brings the design together, and generally securing my plant sponsor for a show will quite often determine the style of my garden. Last year at MIFGS I worked with Carl from Botanix Nursery, Joel from Tall Trees and Michelle from Established Tree Planters and with their enthusiasm and love for MIFGS that helped me make “Dreaming” a celebration of Australian native plants.

 

Award winning garden for the 2019 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. This Garden is called Dreaming and is a tribute to the native parts we are so lucky to have in Australia. This Garden won People’s Choice Award 2019 and the Gilt Award 2019. Image: Christian Jenkins Landscape Design.

 

What is your advice for fellow horticultural professionals in navigating a rapidly-changing world?

I really find this a difficult question to answer – the world is changing very quickly and both agriculture and horticulture will be relied upon and have even greater importance in the years to come. Making organisations stronger, more approachable and exchanging our knowledge with each other will be very valuable. To remain successful in our chosen field we must be constantly evolving as a business owner, improving our existing skill set, looking to strengthen areas for improvement.

The great thing about our industry is artificial intelligence won’t be able to prune the roses, our best practise comes from our home garden so keep experimenting at home, and putting ourselves outside our comfort zone always creates great results. The changing world needs to get back to basics, and the simple things in life bring the most enjoyment – our industry brings so much enjoyment to so many age groups.

What big trends do you think horticulturists should look towards in 2020 and beyond?

Rainwater harvesting is something we can all do, and my home in the Otway Ranges relies solely on rainwater. Both local councils and governments support rainwater capture for sustainability and resilience.

The connection between mental health and nature will only become more important every year, with wellness gardens to become more popular. Fruit trees need to be planted more often using dwarf varieties and our gardens need to be planted with thoughtfulness for our local wildlife. Overall the design style will be less and less formal – I would like to think naturalistic gardens will be more common than a structured garden, with plant selection becoming increasingly important with the harsh environmental conditions.

I think we need to experiment more with soil media in the garden with the standard garden blended soil sold by the landscape supply yards needing some clever input. The houses are bigger and the gardens are smaller so we must continue to be creative with the small spaces.

 

Check out Christian’s beautiful designs on his website and social media – visit christianjenkins.com.au and stay tuned for news and updates from our Victoria region.

 

This article featured in our new members-only magazine, HortInsightsJoin us today as a member and you will receive our magazine by email every two months.

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