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In Conversation with Rory Graham, Landscape Designer

Our Landscape Designer, Rory Graham joined the company in 2005 and has since been working to create truly exceptional (and award-winning!) outdoor spaces. We spoke with Rory about his interests in the field, career highlights and the challenges of working in the landscape industry.

Do you have a design philosophy that you apply to your projects/process?

Creating an outdoor space which sits seamlessly as an extension of the home and within the surrounding environment would be my underlying philosophy. With any project there is always the goal to design spaces that flow in terms of set-out, as well as their relationship to each other for connectivity, proportion and balance.

North Sydney: This pocket-sized garden was designed to exploit it's expansive harbourside view whilst incorporating a swimming pool, intimate entertaining terrace and lawn.

What are some of your career highlights?

Receiving industry awards for the projects that I have worked on is a definite a highlight; but more so, a personal highlight would be looking at a completed project and feeling a strong sense of satisfaction once it has been completed; knowing that we have poured everything into creating that perfect outdoor space and that the client is ultimately happy.

What are some of the challenges of working in the landscape design and construction industry?

The scope of what a client may ask to be included in a landscape design project is always challenging. Swimming pools have traditionally been a natural extension, but we are seeing a lot of requests for outdoor kitchens, substantial pavilions and other building elements that make the profession more challenging now (of course more exciting too!).

Newport Home: Flowing through newly installed sliding doors, sits a luxury outdoor kitchen complete with barbeque, pizza oven, sink and seating.

As a landscape designer, who/what/where do you get your inspiration from?

Other people’s work mostly! I follow various other specialists on social media which is a really handy, easy to access source for instant inspiration.

What does a typical day look like to you as a landscape designer?

Depending on what stage I am in of the design process, a typical day might include conducting a consultation with a new client, visiting nurseries or material suppliers for inspiration or to look for something to use in a particular application on a project.

A large and important part of a landscape designers’ role is understanding council planning and restrictions, so I may also spend time reviewing state or local planning policies and looking at a site’s specific planning restrictions.

Of course, the most fun part (and also most challenging) would be the actual task of designing a project!

Above: A plan for a recently completed project in Sydney's inner west.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in landscape design?

Try to find someone who might act as a mentor, and learn everything you can! Joining a company who has been in the game for a long time would be the ultimate experience.

Also joining an industry association; I am a long-time member of the Landscape Design Institute (LDI) and it has been a fantastic source for information and professional development.

What is next for the JGLI design team?

There is a challenging project in Sydney’s Whale Beach that we have been working on (design-wise) for quite some time. I am hoping this can take a big leap over the next few weeks by sending this swimming pool project to council for formal approval.

Plus, we’re about to install some advanced stock of Dragon’s Blood Tree’s I hand selected at the end of last year, for a project in Newport I am really looking forward to seeing these stunning trees go in.

Favourite plant?

Usually, a succulent and currently the Twin flower agave (Agave geminiflora) which is pretty spectacular.

Favourite material to work with?

Natural stone and Australian hardwoods are so beautiful.

Manly: Coolum Random Ashlar natural stone walling supplied by @ecooutdoor

All-time favourite garden?

I couldn’t name just one favourite – there are just too many good ones out there now!

But the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne in Victoria are pretty special.

For information on our landscape design services including the 'client journey', please click here.


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