MIFGS student design competition winner

8 March 2023
MIFGS student design competition winner

We have a winner for our MIFGS student design competition – Congratulations Emma Sheppard-Simms!

We have a winner for our MIFGS student design competition – Congratulations Emma Sheppard-Simms!

We’re so excited to have chosen Emma Sheppard-Simms as the winner for our MIFGS Student grant. The grant provides $10,000 to design and install a vibrant garden at our stand at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS), 29 March–2 April, 2023.

Emma is a landscape architect and University of Melbourne (Burnley) horticulture student. Her winning garden design will be built and installed by an all-female trade team, in what      is believed to be a first in the history of MIFGS.

“I’m delighted that Open Gardens Victoria has provided me with this opportunity. It’s so important that we showcase the skills of women currently working in the landscape industry. To this end,  my garden will be entirely built by a team of female landscape architects, landscapers, horticulturists, and volunteers,” says Emma.

Our Head of Giving, Karen White, says Emma’s garden design was selected from a strong field of applicants.      

“The design stood out with its strong focus on the brief, demonstrating a diversity of plant choices, sustainable practices, and the promotion of the health benefits of gardening—all within the bounds of a charming, achievable design,” says Karen. “Emma’s proposal to put together an all-female installation team added extra appeal to the project. Our hope is that women who see the garden at MIFGS will be encouraged to take up a career in horticulture.”

Called ‘A Place for Us’, the garden will showcase the creative diversity of native plant species while encouraging biodiversity, water-wise gardening, and the use of sustainable, locally-sourced materials. 'A Place for Us' demonstrates the power of gardens to accept and educate, to welcome and provide. It is a place for us all.

•   A place for curious plant fans—visitors will be drawn to the diverse, colourful, and playful use      of native plants. The effect is a carpet of perennials, ground covers, and ornamental grasses

•   A place for water-wise gardening—a low-irrigation garden that collects and retains rainwater. Water drains along the gabion walls and is directed to a small rain garden and aquatic feature

•   A place for all living creatures—habitat for birds, insects, reptiles, and small mammals is found in the rocky shelter of the gabion wall, in the flowering undergrowth, and aquatic plantings around the rain garden

•   A place for supporting mental health—a garden antidote to the stress of the world. A green oasis, a place apart, a 'birdhouse for the soul'—a link to the natural world that is needed now more than ever before

•   A place to celebrate the contribution of female designers and tradeswomen in the landscaping industry and acknowledge that construction sites are places where women with the right skills, tools, and talent are welcome.


A Place for Us - Melbourne International Flower show 2023 Construction documentation drawing

“Gardens are often described as healing and calming spaces that provide an escape from our worries,” says Emma. “But they can also be positive, energising spaces that remind us of the resilience and power of the living world. In celebration of this vitality, I have designed a garden that hums with colour, sensory and textural interest—an inviting space that attracts visitors, insects, and birds alike.”

We’re so thrilled to showcase Emma’s garden in our marquee and we’d love you to come and visit us and the ‘A Place for Us’ garden at Stand A24.

‘A Place for Us’ will be created on the lands of the Wurundjeri people. Open Gardens Victoria wish to acknowledge the Traditional custodians and we pay respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging.
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