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At this year's Auckland Flower Show, landscape designer Alex Schanzer makes a long-awaited return to the exhibition garden arena.
Alex achieved widespread recognition through his work at past flower shows, becoming well known as "the guy who does the stone stacks". After four years in hibernation, he says the time had come to reveal his new direction in landscape design.
"I retain my roots as a horticulturist, and plants will always be the backbone of what I do. But I am more interested these days in the conceptual type of landscape. I want people to look at it, and not necessarily absorb it all in one go."
For his latest exhibition, Alex will make use of the "natural features" of the Alexandra Park venue. The grandstands enable viewers to look down on gardens, as well look at them up close. The venue's natural use as a night-time event centre means that the Flower Show will be able to stay open in the evenings, presenting designers with the opportunity to create gardens for both day and night viewing.
The Schanzer Show Garden that will be created for the Auckland Flower Show is called Chlorophyll, and is a tribute to the life source of plants. In this exhibit, the theme of chlorophyll is portrayed in the colour green and conveyed through plants, through enchanting lighting design, and through sculpture that features a unique green acrylic.
There will be the 'trademark' Schanzer rocks, which have been modified to glow in the dark green, of course.
Alex will also use rusting steel sculpture in the garden, as a comment on his belief that man-made landscapes can never be truly 'natural'. "They are always a manipulation of design and plants," he says.
Another integral theme in his concept is continuity, symbolised with the use of kopae (circle within the circle) for planting design. He has chosen plants for diversity of form, texture and colour, but with commonality in that they have developed initially to aid survival in harsh environments from desert, to the depths of tropical forest floors.
A gold medal would be nice, but Alex says his aims for the garden are mostly in the cause of communication. "I hope that Chlorophyll evokes some thought in the viewer, as to the wonderment of nature, and engenders a more holistic view of it."