“We listen. To our clients, the site, ourselves, and the wind.” Georgina Reid, a gardener, writer, and photographer based in Sydney, can make even a business manifesto sound inviting. No wonder her landscape design company is called Reid & Friends.
Who are the friends? “My first best friend has four legs and is not particularly useful but entirely necessary. Her name is Bessie Smith,” she explains. “Luke is another of the friends: He has two legs and is a permaculture designer with a wild beard and an amazing passion for growing anything vaguely edible.” Reid draws inspiration from architects, artists, horticulturalists, and landscapers. “It’s loose… We work together when a project requires it, providing a range of services to deliver the best creative and practical outcome possible.”
Photographs by Georgina Reid.
Above: A garden for a private residence in Orange NSW.
Above: Brachyscombe multifida, a native ground cover plant in Australia. Though Reid grew up on a farm with a “massive” garden, she is now based in Sydney. How would she compare the challenges of bringing design to rambling acres against small urban spaces? “Generally speaking, they are the same but kind of inverted. Take space, for example: In the city everyone wants their garden to feel bigger, while in the country clients often want to make their space feel smaller and more enclosed, more sheltered.” Which takes us back to the Reid & Friends philosophy. “It’s not about me,” she says. “It’s about the bigger picture of greening, growing, tending, and beautifying the world, one Reid & Friends garden at a time.”
Above: Reid’s journal provides insight into her design philosophy. This garden, Jardin Majorelle, in Marrakech, Morocco, has particularly inspired her. Created by French artist Jacques Majorelle and later owned by Yves Saint Laurent, the garden has an effect on visitors that fascinates Reid. “People walked through the space extremely slowly, like they were under a spell. They were bewitched. A sign of a great garden? I think so.”
Above: The villa, painted in “Majorelle Blue,” surrounded by cacti of all shapes and sizes.
Above: Eucalyptus tree photographed by Georgina during a walk in the bush (i.e. a walk in the rugged country). What are some advantages of designing gardens in Australia? ‘We are a young nation and have a kind of vitality and enthusiasm, especially about anything to do with the outdoors,” she says. (N.B.: Not so different from the United States, from my point of view, living in the small and “old” British Isles.) “The Australian landscape is amazing,” continues Reid. “So rich, varied, and unique. It is a constant source of inspiration to me. Also, the wealth of plants unique to Australia is mind blowing: it’s heaven for a plant lover.”
Above: Sculpture at the Bullagreen garden, New South Wales. “Isolation can inspire creativity and innovation,” says Reid, reflecting on Australia’s garden design. “We are far away from anywhere.” The downside is an inward-looking tendency, rather than taking inspiration from outside and beyond. And the climate? “It’s pretty extreme: When we have droughts they last for ten years.”