How to grow Meet: Brendan Moar, show garden creator

Meet: Brendan Moar, show garden creator

I’m a big fan of the work of landscape architect and television presenter Brendan Moar. Seeing one of his gardens come to life on his Lifestyle channel shows is a treat; seeing one live at the Singapore Garden Festival is even better.

Brendan Moar in front of 'Suspended' his Gold Medal garden which also won Peoples Choice at The Australian Garden Show Sydney, 2013. Photo - AGSS

You aced your first garden show with the Best in Show award at Australian Garden Show Sydney in 2013. What was your Singapore experience like?

Singapore felt like I was playing with the big boys: top flight designers from all over the world and some big (expensive) ideas. I really felt like I wasn't in Kansas anymore Toto. I felt very prepared though. Working with the Singapore landscaper Ivan Koh from Hawaii Landscapes was a great experience. To have a full team of trades and workers as opposed to the (awesome) motley crew I would normally cobble together meant there was ample manpower to make the garden happen. But wow it was hot! And sweaty. Total heatstroke kind of stuff.


Your garden was instantly identifiable, and would fit any context and any continent, not just the tropics. Was that part of the plan?

Yes and no. It wasn’t until I went to Singapore for the first time with my completed design in hand that I realised I have an aesthetic that is very much in line with the brave new very 'designed' Singapore. That was purely a fluke.


3km of fine silver chain bring an elegant cooling element to his Singapore Garden. Photo - Mark Patterson

What was the concept behind your design?

The design was an extrapolation of the garden I did for Australian Garden Show in 2013. I love starting with a very simple idea; a question, problem or fantasy and taking it from there. In essence I wanted to explore the idea of a fine vertical line and see where that would take me.I love the silver magic shimmer of rain - especially sun showers - and very simply that's what I was trying to emulate.


Well those 3km of silver chain did a great job of psychologically cooling me off. Thanks!

I’m happy it cooled you down. I love that fine line and the depth and play of light it gives us.


Tell us about the mounded shrubs that looked like purple boulders.

Those clipped Lorepetalum balls were a great find. Finding wow plants for a show garden is often just chance. I saw those, which were imported from China, in Ivan’s nursery when I went over for the recce. Needless to say I just had to have them. My other favourite plants in the garden are the leopard trees, Caesalpinia ferres and the ornamental peanut plant groundcover, Arachis glabrata.

Clipped balls bring an element of Chelsea to Singapore. Photo - Mark Patterson

Worst thing about Singapore?

The disconnected relationship the locals have with the outdoors, given the heat and humidity it all happens indoors, in air-conditioning.


Best thing about Singapore?

The food is unbelievable and the daring design that is happening everywhere is really exciting.


Brendan is co-host of the new series of Coast Australia, screening on the History Channel. 

Text: Linda Ross

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Author: Linda Ross