Plant Life Balance

It’s a Jungle in There with Ian McMaugh

Growing up on a farm in central west NSW, plants were something Ian had loved since childhood, but it wasn’t until looking for a career change after 20 years as a fashion designer that it became a professional pursuit.

Now a landscape designer, Ian’s work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Gardening Australia, Your Garden, Inside Out and more, working under the name Budwise Garden Design. It’s understandable to assume his own garden would be immaculate, but he says he likes things a little more casual in at home.

“My clients have specific wants and needs, whereas my own garden is more of a collection of plants I like… but I don’t like overly designed gardens,” he shares. “Personally, I feel more relaxed in a space that has evolved.”

The constraints of size, sunlight and privacy are a challenge to any inner-city dwelling, so creative design solutions are essential. Noise and security are also important considerations. Ian’s Redfern home is an absolute urban oasis where it’s hard to believe Sydney’s CBD is within walking distance! There are serious Jungle Vibes here – thick layers of plants absorb the city grind, while spiky bromeliads atop the boundary walls provide security. Plants occupy every corner and nook and cranny.

“I have a theory that inner city areas, with tiny houses, tiny gardens and lots of surrounding hard surfaces are the best places for jungle gardens.”

“The most creative garden design solutions, to me, involve going overboard with plants; and nothing says ‘overboard with plants’ like a jungle garden. They’re the perfect contrast to concrete inner city environments,” Ian says.

“The effect of this garden is one of relief and retreat. While it feels very much related to the surrounding environment, there is a very important element of disconnect, of sanctuary. Not only does it feel wonderful to be in, this garden is an absolute treasure trove of amazing plants. It’s the size of a postage stamp but I reckon it would take me a good few hours of investigating to really see it all. It’s the work of both a passionate collector and a highly creative soul. A true jungle gem.”

Channel your inner Ian McMaugh with the Jungle Vibes look and plant lift on the Plant Life Balance app. Download it for free from the App Store or Google Play.