Founded in 2013, The Scape Artist is a local Ballarat business providing specialist services in landscape design, construction and maintenance. Director, Paddy Milne has 15 years’ experience in the industry. Paddy and the team pride themselves on their passion for creating beautiful gardens, genuine care for clients, strong work ethic and attention to detail. The Scape Artist has begun to gain recognition as one of the finest landscape teams in Victoria.

Paddy Milne (The Scape Artist)

What sparked your career in landscape design?

Growing up on a hobby farm in the country meant following my dad around in the garden as a kid. Watching him tend to the garden is where my passion for gardens started. Once I left school I studied horticulture and progressed to a landscaping apprenticeship. This experience gave me a really good knowledge base for soft and hard landscaping.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I travelled every year after completing my apprenticeship. It was important to me that I controlled when I worked throughout the year, so upon establishing The Scape Artist in 2013, I worked in Australia for our summer and then in Canada for theirs, picking up seven summers in a row. My team and I still take our main holidays in mid-winter to escape the cold.

When and why did you first offer greenwalls to your customers?

I'll never forget reading The Vertical Garden by Patrick Blanc – it was a revelation. However, at that time I hadn't yet connected with the right client or situation to offer this greenwall solution. Then in early 2018 I visited a previously landscaped garden, complete with pool, spa and beautiful alfresco area. Despite the beautiful design, all of the views from the living area took in a really ugly timber paling fence with an old vine growing over it. I knew this was the perfect spot for a vertical garden. Thankfully, our client did too!

Our first Vicinity greenwall was 20 metres long, 1.8 metres high and incorporated 11 different plant varieties. It was somewhat of a statement piece!

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a greenwall?

Before contacting a professional, do some of your own research to understand which type of plants you like, what you budget extends to, and which locations you're willing to have a greenwall installed. Depending on the aspect and plant choices, your favourite spot might not end up being the ultimate position.

Are greenwalls a good option for 'brown thumbs'?

It's always important to have a general understanding of the system, but this is easy to learn when it comes to Vicinity. For anyone who wants a greenwall but doesn’t want to think about maintenance, this can always be outsourced. Choosing low maintenance, hardy plants can also go a long way to creating a sustainable greenwall that won't need a lot of attention.

Irrigation is paramount in a vertical garden; daily watering is required for at least nine months of the year. The automated watering system is perfect for safeguarding your plants during this time with little or no intervention.

What do you see as some of the advantages of living greenwalls?

Once we complete our first greenwall, the advantages were abundantly clear. It dramatically improves the visual aesthetic of the space instantly – greenery meeting you at eye level is something special. A greenwall is like having a living piece of art that changes with the seasons. No lasercut screen or sculpture can compete!

The beauty of the greenwall system is they can be made into all shapes and sizes, so they suit a wide variety of homeowners and budgets.

How do you approach greenwall design?

I start with the location of the greenwall – the aspect; the amount of sun and shade it gets. From here, I can plan for the most suitable plants. Every vertical garden needs to be created as its own unique microclimate. This is important for its longevity and success.

What types of plants thrive in living wall systems?

I have chosen a few plants that have survived well just sitting in a 14cm pot on concrete. I had a Korean box left over from a job and was in its pot on concrete over summer for about 4 months, with very little love and attention. I have trialled a number of plants in my home greenwall that have been sitting neglected in pots for months. One example is a Korean box I had left over from a job, which is now thriving in my greenwall. It's definitely a plant I'll be using in clients' greenwalls.

What qualities do you appreciate about the Vicinity Greenwall system?

I researched many vertical garden products and finally settled on the Vicinity Greenwall system for a few reasons. First, it provided the most practical design for long-term maintenance. Second, the automated watering system was brilliant, with its water capture and recirculation, and in-built float. What really sealed the deal is Vicinity's sleek simple design – it's really hard to beat.

Tell us about one of your greenwall projects.

We recently created a Vicinity greenwall with seven plants types (Nandina, Liriope, Heauchera, Dichondra, Sedum, Lomandra). It's located in a west-facing courtyard and the greenwall beautifully complements the contemporary architecture. The small space has been visually expanded with the vertical splash of colour – the greenery makes the whole area dynamic and interesting.

We fabricated the galvanised steel frame onsite and used black Formply backing. The addition of our custom-made lasercut screen above the greenwall affords the client greater privacy from neighbours. Lighting was also installed at the base – controlled via a dusk sensor – to uplight the wall at night. The result looks nothing short of spectacular and the client is thrilled. They’re also happy with the low maintenance, with their wall set up for auto-watering 30min/day for about nine months of the year.