The Woody Meadow

The Woody Meadow, commissioned by the City of Melbourne and lead by Prof James Hitchmough and Dr Audrey Gerber, is a novel planting style which creates resilient urban and peri-urban landscapes for Mediterranean and near-Mediterranean climates.

The Woody Meadow combines the practical and ornamental characteristics of Australian flora into functional designed landscapes. The natural ability of Australian plants to regenerate after fire is used to develop a low-input management strategy in which plants are coppiced every 3-4 years in cycle upon cycle of refreshed vigour. Colour, shape and texture are overlaid and interweaved in a theatrical presentation of the glorious displays of our native flora. Plants are custom selected for each site to reflect local character, and to merge the ecology:design interface within the local climatic, edaphic and social context. The principles of designing naturalistic flowering meadows that were used to develop the Woody Meadow are described in James Hitchmough’s book, Sowing Beauty, published by Timber Press.

Quantifiable benefits to human wellbeing and economic land value are linked to the quality and extent of greenspace in urban landscapes. Reduced resources and increasingly variable climate make it difficult for urban landscape managers to provide aesthetically pleasing open space within current park-style landscape conventions. More naturalistic systems can be less resource intensive and therefore more economical to maintain, and these have been successfully implemented as designed landscapes using annual and perennial herbaceous plants. The Woody Meadow extends this naturalistic philosophy to offer an alternative design and maintenance strategy in a three-layer shrub system. The design provides long-flowering Australian native plant communities that are relatively low growing, structurally complex, and highly attractive to humans and native fauna.

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#woodymeadow: extending the design:ecology interface in urban and peri-urban designed landscapes.

The University of Melbourne and Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, collaborate on  research into coppicing and performance of the Woody Meadow in the urban landscape. We are proud to partner with the Trawalla Foundation with a shared vision to advance Australian flora to a high profile position in ornamental landscapes in Australia and globally.

News items about the Woody Meadow
July 2015

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