Australian landscape designer and environmentalist Jamie Durie gets his hands dirty for most of his work and also spreads the good green word as an author and host of TV shows on gardening, including HGTV's "The Outdoor Room." We're lucky to work with Jamie on the living wall installation at our 2012 Pre-Oscar Party. Below, he answers questions for our Global Green Room Interview. What would surprise us about your work?
That I am frustrated architect who happens to be able to decorate with plants and my horticulture degree. I've been plugged into a lot of architecture projects and that's become my style. I'm more about building environments for people that I then greenify, rather than plant out a garden that gets viewed but not lived in. I build gardens for people to live in, not just to look at. That, for me, is the way to connect people with plants. It enables people to get up close and personal and be literally surrounded by living, breathing walls.
Who is your hero?
Patrick Blanc is my vertical garden mentor. I met him a few years ago in Paris and he's the pioneer of outdoor gardens. And Geoffrey Bawa is the true pioneer of what I refer to as the outdoor room philosophy. I met him and interviewed him for documentary before he passed away. He was a really interesting man and authored many books. He became an architect after he was lawyer and then designed some of the best resorts in the world.
What would you say is your greatest success so far?
I just recently got a medal of the Order of Australia for my environmental work and abilities in garden design. It was a really great honor -- my dad is beside himself. And I won a gold medal from the Royal Horticultural Society in London for my garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2008, where I got the meet the Queen.
What would you say is your biggest failure or challenge?
I made the mistake of setting up an office in Dubai during the boom and came back home with tail between my legs. The lesson learned was to take baby steps.
If you could make one global and green change, what would it be?
We have to look forward to alternative energy sources in combination with planting more vegetation. My top suggestions for sustainable energy sources: wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal. With my app, what I’m trying to do is demystify the art of garden-making and put it in the hands of everyone who owns an iPhone. You can put in your zip code and we give you the top plants for your area. That's my dream: take the fear out of it and put the right plants in the right place.