Q&A WITH GARDEN DESIGNER CHRISTOPHER NICHOLAS

I was introduced to Christopher Nicholas by our wonderful Seaview Crescent client, who affectionately said 'if you don’t know about this guy you should . . . I’ll arrange a meeting!'

And that was the simple beginning of a fabulous collaboration. 

I am inspired by Chris’ aesthetic. He is both professional and playful and a garden visionary. His use of textures and plant choices is beautiful and I’ve enjoyed watching him conceive and develop ideas that are client driven, site specific and sympathetic to the surrounding interiors and architecture. 

We hope that Chris inspires you to do some Spring planting and try out your own green thumb this season! 

ONE WORD THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOU?

Creative and everything good and bad that comes with it.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE GROWING UP?

At aged 10 I wanted to be an architect, but after discovering a passion for plants and gardening at aged 11 I decided I wanted to be a garden designer! Nothing else has ever tempted me really, aside from being a farmer . . . but that's a pipe dream.

HOW DID YOU EARN YOUR FIRST PAY PACKET?

Technically it would be mowing the lawn at home. Dad had a notepad where he would put $2 next to my name for each mow. As I had no concept of money, earning $32 at the end of the year at the age of 9 (yes I mowed the lawn at a disturbingly young age but life was more relaxed back then!) was a huge amount of money. I probably spent it on lollies and Matchbox cars.

BEST LIFE LESSON?

That’s a big question! There's so many. Not to count your chickens before they hatch is a good one, but by proxy of that, often when you think you're on a roll you end up going in a completely different direction only to realise at the end what it was all about. So learning to ‘ride the wave’ (as a friend of mine often says) when I’m bamboozled by life.

YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?

Being a perfectionist it hasn’t arrived yet! Sometimes I reflect on the fact I’ve lived and worked in three countries and made great friends in all of those places that feel like home. I always have somewhere to go and someone to catch up with. I’m proud of that, although I wish I could travel more often!

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

People who maintain their happiness through the simple things in life.

YOUR BIGGEST VICE?

Ouch! Well that first glass of wine when I decide to switch off at the end of the day, searching online for things to buy for my home (real and imaginary) makes me feel good . . . then knowing you can't buy much in our faraway land makes me cranky! I'm often dreaming of beautiful things for myself (!) not my clients.

DO YOU FOLLOW TRENDS OR ARE YOU A TRENDSETTER?

I am definitely not a trendsetter (well no one has told me so). I wish I was, but I’m not a sheep either. I think I spend more time avoiding trends which could make life trickier. 

I love symmetry but I always try to unbalance it for some reason. Then I don’t see mimicking other people’s work as very inspiring so somewhere in all of that I do what I can to be original.

WHAT DREAM DO YOU STILL WANT TO FULFILL?

How long do you have?!

It’s on a piece of land away from roads, the soil is deep volcanic basalt and my house, that I’m going to build, changes weekly. It got pretty big last year in my head but it’s weatherboard and has shutters. The garden is filled with trees and shrubs I can’t quite convince my clients to buy, and there is a pre-planned layout with space to evolve with my experiences. Cold enough for fires and no humidity. I’m not sure whether or not I’m a hermit or surrounded with people.

In the short term, I’m determined to build a proper veggie patch for planting next Autumn in my current country pad, which I rent. It’s made of railway sleepers and gravel paths. It has a picket fence made with rustic tomato posts and an old swing gate from a tumbling-down sheep shearing shed. It has lavender around the raised beds and I’m looking forward to eating and cooking seasonal produce. I’m OK to occasionally share that little dream.

WHAT YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING WITH ALEXANDRA KIDD DESIGN?

Alex is open to all creative ideas and always has a smile. There are no egg shells and enough directness to know where you stand (plus there is definitely room for a good laugh!) That kind of working environment always equals a great collaboration and happy clients.

Image 1 via Christopher Nicholas / Image 2 via © Alexandra Kidd Design / Image 3 via © Alexandra Kidd Design / Image 4 via Christopher Nicholas / Image 5 via Christopher Nicholas / Image 6 via © Alexandra Kidd Design / Image 7 via Christopher Nicholas

I HEART THE HIGH LINE

I was lucky to be back in New York at the beginning of August for a friend's wedding. Apart from the amazing nuptials, the other highlight of my summer holiday was finally visiting The High Line. 

'The High Line as it currently stands is a testament to reuse.' Mark Dion, High Line of the Borough of Manhattan.

The High Line was designed by James Corner Field Operations and Diller, Scofidio and Renfro. Repurposing of the railway into an urban park began construction in 2006, with the first phase opening in 2009 and the second phase opening in 2012. 

The High Line is an ‘aerial greenway’ - urban renewal meets landscape architecture, and has created a public space that spans 20 New York City blocks. It is suspended above street level on the site of an old rail way line. The railway line was removed temporarily to restore the High Line for public use, and the tracks were then put back in to their original locations.

The structure is a combination of old and new: the existing railway tracks and original structures, with the newly designed public areas - seating, water features, viewing platforms and pathways.

There has been talk of a 'copycat' High Line in Sydney on the old railway tracks between Broadway and Darling Harbour, called The Goods Line. It is a partnership with the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and the City of Sydney, and is being created by Aspect Studio and Chrofi Architects.

We can only hope that this urban renewal project comprising of native flora and fauna, public space, exhibition and event spaces and a green thoroughfare, will be at least as successful and encourage as much development and public interaction as it has in New York. To read more about The Goods Line, click here.

The High Line - an oasis in the middle of Manhattan. Development and construction is booming in the area.

The High Line - an oasis in the middle of Manhattan. Development and construction is booming in the area.

'Peel-up' seating and drinking fountains are a feature of The High Line.  

'Peel-up' seating and drinking fountains are a feature of The High Line. 

For the love of  metallic - silver painted brown bricks.   Image 1 via  © Alexandra Kidd Design / Image 2 via  © Alexandra Kidd Design / Image 3 via  © Alexandra Kidd Design

For the love of  metallic - silver painted brown bricks.

Image 1 via ©Alexandra Kidd Design / Image 2 via ©Alexandra Kidd Design / Image 3 via ©Alexandra Kidd Design