Phillip Johnson, the well-known and much-admired landscape designer, gave a most entertaining talk on some of his landscaping projects, most involving running water and very large rocks. The high point of his career has been winning the Gold Medal and Best in Show at the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show. The judges’ decision was unanimous. Preparations for his “all-Australian Garden” at Chelsea required 5 trips to the UK for reconnaissance, a team of 12 professionals and 17 volunteers, a pre-build in Scotland, a 2.5 tonne rubber membrane for the pond, and the sourcing of Australian plants from growers all over Europe(e.g. eucalypts grown in Spain especially for the garden). James Merlino MP, the member for Monbulk, has pledged to establish a replica of the winning garden as a public garden in the Yarra Valley.
Phillip has also worked on the Five Thousand Poppies project, in which thousands of people all over Australia have knitted red poppies as a tribute to the men and women who fought in the two world wars. He designed the display of these poppies – more than 250,0090 of them – at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in 2015, at Federation Square for Anzac Day 2015, and at the Canberra War Memorial. The poppies have also been displayed at Fromelles in France, and in the grounds of Chelsea Hospital. In all, more than a million poppies have all been made by hand.
In thanks, the President gave Phillip a bottle of pinot and made him an honorary member of the Upper Yarra Valley Garden Club.