We sat down with Richard Unsworth recently – the man behind Garden Life in Sydney’s St Peters and a contributor to our stunning Formal Luxe look. We chatted the role of plants in his work-life balance, and what it’s like being able to work in something you’re passionate about.
How would you describe your work when it comes to trees and plants?
We are all about greening up our urban environments, both interiors and exteriors. Our design approach primarily focuses on custom and personalised plant solutions whatever space people may have.
Why do you have all this green, what does it do for your life?
I have always loved working with and around plants, they are so sustaining and energy giving – and of course, very grounding to be around. It’s so important for me to get my hands dirty and keep that connection to the earth.
Do you find surrounding yourself with plants relaxing?
It’s an interesting question, because working with plants is my passion – but it’s also my business. Balancing the two isn’t always fun and relaxing, but the more I actually get my hands in the soil the better I feel. I fully believe that our feelings can – and do – affect everyone around us, so the ripple effects I think are huge.
What’s the best thing about having your own green oasis, either at work or at home?
At the store, we are completely surrounded by plants and people love coming in to be inspired about how it feels to be surrounded by greenery.
“Plants are calming, energy-giving, and their health benefits are well known and documented; their presence in our lives is essential to our wellbeing.”
How do you see your clients change once you have helped them redesign their space?
I love the transformational nature of our work. It’s so very satisfying to see how clients respond to what we create and this develops over time as their garden space matures. We really try to listen to what our clients want to achieve, to how they want to feel in their space, so it’s a very personal thing and I love seeing their response.
What’s your favourite plant in your garden/home?
I love being able to pick rocket and flat leaf parsley from my front garden when I’m cooking. My favourite plants in the back garden are my huge clumps of lime elephants ears (Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’).
How would you rate your plant life balance?
I think my plant life balance is safely on track. Working with plants is so rich and rewarding, and I’m very thankful that I can work in a business that I love. I’m gardening more now than I ever have, renovating an old established garden at our place at Pittwater, and I’m falling in love all over again.
For first time gardeners, what’s your hot tip for starting out?
Just make a start – work with what you have, whether it’s a windowsill, a small balcony or rambling garden. Choose plants that will love where you are putting them, research how to care for them and just go for it. Learn from mistakes and be inspired by your successes.