Q&A with landscape designer Carl Hughes

What are the major gardening trends this spring and summer?

With the weather patterns predicted to return to an extended period of El NiƱo, there is a renewed focus on drought-tolerant gardens. With this in mind, I like to create gardens that exude a certain lushness, avoiding the harshness that can sometimes result from focusing too intently on drought conditions. Japanese box, lavender and crassulas mix beautifully with natives like eremophilas, correas, westringias and lomandras. As for materials, expect a move back to warm stone and weathered hardwood to harmoniously embed a garden into its surroundings.

What are some of your favourite plants and why?

I frequently use native gardenias. They are such wonderful, lush, tropical looking small trees. I love the sculptural qualities of fan aloes and screw pines. They are bold focal point plants that can be captivating in the right setting. Textural plants I’m enjoying include woolly bush, ripple jade, euphorbia cowboy and blue curls agave. I am also a big fan of grasses, whether they be Sir Grange Zoysia (mowed or unmowed), Eskdale Blue, one of the lomandras or Rustic Poa.

What do you ask clients before you get to work on a new design?

I like to start the conversation by asking how they currently use their garden and what’s missing. That gives me an understanding of how they entertain, who lives in the house, what designated zones may be required and whether they prefer a formal or informal landscape design. Do they have a favourite style of garden or even just a list of plants they would like to see incorporated?

Does your outdoor space need an update?
Contact Carl Hughes on 0425 354 231 or