My Journey toward creating healing landscapes

Nature doesn’t have distinct boundaries, it appears to flow fluidly from one type of environment to another. This is the sort of seamless flow I aim for with the gardens and landscapes I design. Where the ‘mangaged’ part blends easily with the more natural environment around it. The surrounds of the house or building usually require more deliberate design, due to the different micoclimates created by the built form and in areas where plants are required to perform functions, such as screening an undesirable view or providing protection from winds. Vegetable gardens may be desired close to the house, flowers for use in the house or fruit bearing trees. Where we start to move further away from the buildings however, we can start to invite the more natural areas into the designed space and let the outer edges of the landscape merge with the environment around it. This is stepping lightly on the land, where the design looks like it has emerged out of the landscape rather than being imposed on it.

I have been designing landscapes for thirty-three years and I have discovered that when I tune into the subtle energy of the land and  familiarize myself with the feeling of a place at the beginning of the project, not only does the design process flow more smoothly, but the design looks so much better suited to its environment, so simple, that anything else would have paled in comparison. I believe intuitive design can lift your spirits, because it enables you to effortlessly attune to the beauty and harmony of your surrondings and in that process you become centred and can then appreciate wherever you are. In these changeable times, and especially during the Covid lockdowns, our parks and gardens become increasingly important places of sanctuary and refuge, allowing our bodies and minds to relax and reset and our spirits to feel replenished and energized.

When you are in a harmonious natural environment, whether that is walking in the bushland or even in a consciously designed  place such as a botanic garden – any place in fact, where nature is predominant and the energy is balanced – it is easy to tune into your surroundings. But in smaller, urban spaces it requires the skillful combination of  interesting, well-chosen plants, imaginatively used materials and the clever configuration of spaces and levels to achieve this goal.

Every project begins with listening to the requirements and desires of each client and analyzing the constraints and potentials of the site within the broader landscape.

I like to take the process a step further and ask:

“What does the land and the plants want me to do ? “

It’s not uncommon to invite nature into your design process, but where it takes trust and humility, is to listen to the answer. I believe this is a vital part of our journey in the twenty-first century, that we work with nature as co-creators, and concentrate more on being stewards with the land rather than the out-dated and no longer sustainable notion of  having dominion over it.  

Letting nature show us the way

During my first visit to an old dairy that was to become a new residential area of Margaret River in Western Australia, I was struck by the majestic beauty of the endemic trees. They were mostly comprised of Marris – Red Gums (Corymbia calophylla);  Jarrahs – Swan River Mahogany (Eucalyptus marginata); and Peppermints (Agonis flexousa). One particular Marri tree, pictured above, stood out from the rest because it had the remnants of a rustic ladder nailed to the trunk, leading to a barely discernible engraving of a heart where the ladder stopped at the first large branch. This captured my imagination and together with the tree’s generous canopy of about thirty metres across and an approximate age of two hundred to two hundred and fifty years, I suggested that this one (at least) be retained and that the park  be around this tree. On this property of about two hundred acres, only the trees along the creek-line, the road, the fence-lines or within new parks, were able to be kept. I singled out this tree and three others within the park area, so that we had some mature trees near the entrance to the subdivision. My employer at the time, Bill James, readily agreed and he encouraged the planners and engineers to redesign the roads and allotments to facilitate this vision.

In my experience, the vast majority of trees are completely cleared to make way for developments and are seen as a liability rather than an asset, so it was heartening to see the shift of perception that occurred when we kept the large old Marri. It become the a focal point of the entrance to Rapid’s Landing and many some new residents said they bought in this area because of the tree! It always made sense to me to keep such a special Marri from a historical, environmental and aesthetic point of view, but as the project progressed and the residents became so enamoured with the tree, I saw how simple it can be when we allow nature to show us the way.

In the photos below, the one on the left, is the tree before the design and the one on the right, after the design, with paths, a wall and a playground beside it. 

Feng Shui

The philosophy of Feng Shui is based on centuries of observation and provides guidelines for living in accord with our surroundings. Encompassing the teaching of the Tao, it is a practice of living in which our inner self is in harmony with the universe. The five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water, are continuously balanced by the complimentary processes of creation and destruction and our understanding of how to work with these processes rather than against them, can enhance our daily lives and help us reach our potential for individual wisdom, peacefulness and happiness. It’s original application was grounded in common sense: to protect houses and their inhabitants from wind – feng and ensure proximity to life-sustaining water – shui. It’s aim is to improve the well being, prosperity and  healthy relationships for people, in both their homes and their work environments.

It also takes into consideration the dynamic effect of time. Anyone who is familiar with the ‘I Ching’ or ‘Book of Changes’, can see this interesting interplay of time with the forces of nature. It also resonates very deeply with landscape design, because our work is so dependent on time; not only in a positive sense as is it vital for each project to reach its maturity, but time’s inexorable march can also mean the disappearance of our carefully considered and maintained spaces – this is especially true of smaller, residential gardens.

You could say feng-shui is an effective method of finding our individual balance in a constantly changing world. Although a fascinating subject ,it can be confusing to apply for places in the Southern Hemisphere and one book that I’ve found to be very clear and practical is ‘Feng Shui for Australians’ by Gerry Heaton.


Dowsing, also known as water divining, is a very accurate way to locate water, minerals and underground pipes using a willow branch, steel rods or a pendulum. It’s has been invaluable tool for farmers over the years and because its success is easily proven by digging in a certain place and depth it has helped generations of dowsers hone their craft.

“Dowsing is an expansion of lucid awareness, in essence – familiarity in communication with the Universal Intelligence.” Dr Edith Jurka.

The Dowsers Society of NSW are a professional and inclusive group that meets monthly in Hunter’s Hill.  They hold regular workshops to teach you how to dowse and monthly talks an a wide range of related topics. Their website is:

Alanna Moore’s website is also very interesting:



Ley-lines are well-known and well-documented energy lines of significance. They have been clearly marked for thousands of years with enduring structures such as the Pyramids, Stonehenge and Notre Dame Cathedral, to name a few and appear all over the globe.




Feng shui, Dowsing and Leylines are all traditional methods of understanding and working with subtle earth energies. They provide valuable wisdom on how to enhance positive energy lines and improve or neutralize negative ones to enhance our health and our quality of life. Our intuition ( learning from within) gives us access to the most extraordinary universal  energies by enabling us to connect with Source, which is also known as All-That-Is. It is available to everyone, at any time and to give you an idea of its range and power, it can be described as the dynamic trio of the three omni’s:

 Omnipotent- all powerful,
Omniscient – all knowing and,
Omnipresent- every where at once.

 This is the pure potential that we can all aspire to over the long term and in the meantime, I recommend that we continue to tune in, interpret and express these energies in the best way we can, to create more balanced, healing environments for all to enjoy.


If this is something you’re interested in too and you’d would like to get in touch with me to discuss it further or with the prospect of working together, please contact me via the following :


Mobile: 0457 081 446