Plant Life Balance

Take a Walk on the Divine Side

Award-winning landscape designer and resident expert on the Lifestyle Channel, Charlie Albone shares his thoughts on good Plant Life Balance.

What gardens around the world have influence on your creativity?
I love European gardens, the timelessness of the way they’re executed is fantastic. I’ve also done some work in Singapore in the Shangri La Hotel – I built a garden there, a feature and lobby, but the gardens are pretty inspiring. I like all sorts of gardens, it’s not like it’s one style, I can appreciate the work that goes in and when someone puts love into it.

Would you say you draw influence from a lot of European gardens or more so just working with the clients and understanding their style?
Every garden is different and individual. A client will have a look they like, so it’s taking that look and adding a bit to it, making sure it’s functional and works well, making sure they can look after it.

Do you have a favourite plant to work with or a must-have in every design?
I didn’t realise this but recently we spoke to the nursery we get the majority of our plants from and apparently the plant I spent the most money on last year was the Rhaphiolepis Oriental Pearl. That plant is great, you can grow it on a boat, so it’s a pretty easy, low maintenance plant to have.

You’ve been landscaping for over 17 years, including featuring on 11 seasons of Selling Houses Australia, what are some of your greatest successes and most memorable gardens?
Going to the Chelsea Flower Show is probably up there. The first time I built a garden there was a garden dedicated to my late father, so a space to tell him about my life since he’d passed away, which meant a lot to me. From that, we built a garden for the Singapore Shangri-La which was an engineering nightmare and it’s a miracle that it’s still up there.

Would you say you try to introduce plants into every aspect of your life?
Absolutely, and I’ve got plants inside, but I’m pretty busy so all we’ve got are things like Peace Lilies because I know I don’t have time to look after the other stuff. I’ve got Peace Lilies because when they’re thirsty they let you know and they come back.

What flowering blooms can you recommend for a beginner gardener?
Things like Buddleia, there are some good miniature varieties, that only grow to a metre, otherwise they can get quite big and outrageous. Gardenias in a semi-sun location are pretty foolproof. I just say to people, “give it a go, don’t be scared of it, plants don’t particularly want to die and gardeners are nice people, they’ll tell you how to look after them.”

Here are some Heaven Scent plants to get you started:

  • Gardenia
  • Yellow Buttons
  • Magnolia Little Gem
  • Hydrangea
  • Begonia

Designed by Charlie, the new Heaven Scent look and plant list are now available in the Plant Life Balance app.