Ellerslie International Flower Show has been a springboard to international success for Wellington designer Bayley LuuTomes.
He has won four gardening medals in three continents in one year, starting with winning the Young Emerging Designer of the year at Ellerslie in March.
“It’s been amazing to combine my creativity with my love of gardening and have it take me all over the world.”
The world’s top garden designers this week (October 12 -20) converge in Nagasaki, Japan for the annual Gardening World Cup. Bayley was representing New Zealand alongside Xanthe White, a multiple gold medal winner at Ellerslie.
His garden titled Glass Bottle Sanctuary won a silver in the home garden category, while Xanthe won a silver medal in the show gardens category.
A curved wall of coloured glass bottles forms a koru with a simple hidden sanctuary on the inside and compact colour planting on the outside.“My country is New Zealand, my culture is Asian and my garden is a fusion of the two. Take the kiwi love for the great outdoors and add a few Asian style garden principles and you have a garden that is a reflection of who I am as an Asian Kiwi.” “This represents the busy modern western life style compared with a simple and harmonious traditional eastern style of living.” At night, the glass bottles transform the sanctuary into a stunning illuminated garden sculpture. “I believe in upcycling and wanted to take a throwaway item and show you can create something amazing with it.”
A threatened typhoon cost the Wellington-based designer a day’s preparation time.“We spent a day trying to reinforce the garden and strap it down, then this little breeze came through!” Bayley also took on a French designer in a speed gardening challenge — “a cool little event” where designers use leftover materials to construct a garden in 20 minutes. “You’re encouraged to have fun and not take it too seriously, even to grab things from the other designer’s garden!”In July, Bayley won a silver medal at the Hampton Court International Flower Show in London. Life on the inte rnational gardening circuit is a far cry from Bayley’s family’s modest arrival in New Zealand with no English, only the clothes on their backs and few personal possessions. Most of it was lost over board when their boat was sinking while they were trying to flee their homeland, Vietnam in 1984 when Bayley was four. “My mother bravely decided to do what she needed to do. Coming to New Zealand has given me an amazing opportunity.” Bayley’s mother was with him in Japan to support him. Although it is too early yet to confirm details, Bayley has just been invited to another international garden show by one of the high-profile World Cup judges who saw potential in his design.
Following his return home, Bayley will once again be exhibiting at Ellerslie International Flower Show2014 in Christchurch from 26 February to 2 March. After his year of travel, learning and encountering some of the world’s best design talent, Bayley wants to give something back.
“I’m doing a children’s charity garden to raise awareness of kids living with arthritis and open the public’s eyes. I cried after talking to one nine-year-old girl as she had been through so much pain that is hidden from you and I.”