Month 15 | Spring
Sidonie Carpenter | Landscape Architect
We piled my bags into the back of the buggy and set off for an adventure... 20 minutes from my previous trade. When I arrived at Sidonie’s home it took all of 2 seconds to feel like I was in my own abode, a sanctuary so close to madness, but I may as well have been sitting atop the highest mountain.
The Pixel Trade was photographing some of Sidonie’s work in a handful of landscapes around Brisbane. In between each shoot we returned back to base and stocked up on wine and home made salads and dips before heading back out into the gardens once more. One must remember that any kind of design is often influenced by the client, the trick that some designers have, is making something incredible despite the horrible restrictions often put upon them... Sidonie is one of these unique designers.
Interview with Sidonie
Describe your most memorable adventure as a child.
My childhood was one big adventure. My parents divorced when I was very young. As a result my sister and I would have weekends and holidays with Dad. He was and still is a big kid so we were always doing amazing things. He lived on a dairy farm and my step mother breed horses so I had the opportunity and exposure to country life. As a child the freedom to roam and test ones own ability was wonderful. Sometimes I wonder how I am still alive.
I think the most memorable adventure was week long horse trek I did when I was 13 with Dad and my sister along the Megalong Valley in the Blue Mountais. We rode down into the valley and followed the Coxs River, riding all day and camping each night.
I still relish getting away and camping. No power, no running water, and no phones, TV or computers.........
When did you first realise you wanted to work with plants?
My mother brought a nursery when I was about 2 years old. I have memories of standing on a milk crate next to the old Greek man who did her propagating. I also come from a family of gardeners. My Grandmother had an amazing garden and our weekend as children were often spent helping. I was given a section of the garden as my own when I was 5, I would spend hours planting seeds, writing little labels, watering - nothing has really changed!
It was when I was 20 that I decided to follow a career in Landscape Architecture. I was studying Coastal Management when I fell pregnant. I knew I needed to find a career that I could work for myself while also being a Mum.
I have always loved being outdoors and growing up surrounded by Architecture, Design and Gardens ( my Step Father and Sister are both Architects and my Mother a talented artist ) changing over to study Landscape Architecture and Horticulture seemed like a very obvious decision. I started running my own Landscape Architecture and Horticulture Practice when my kids were 3 and 5, that was 18 years ago and I have loved every moment.
What is the best part about landscape design?
Having a job that doesn't feel like a job. I am very lucky that I love what I do and never feel like I am working. Landscape Design ticks all the boxes. I get a great mix of both office and outdoor work, I am surrounded with beautiful things, I make people happy and love to watch them connect with their gardens. every single client and job is different so I never get board and I am always learning.
What does a typical day in your life consist of?
I am up at 4.30am to go rowing on the Brisbane River. The most wonderful way to start the day. Home by 7am for coffee and brekkie, feed the ducks and chooks and sometimes manage to find a few moments to spend in my own garden.
I work from home so my commute to the office is stress free. I am then either on site meeting new clients or supervising jobs, at the nurseries selecting plants or in the office doing design work. I try to stop for lunch, often with my husband ( who also works from home or my mother and extended family who live next door) I work through the afternoon until either one of my kids or my 3 dogs tell me its time for dinner. I pour a vodka and soda, feed the dogs and start cooking the dinner. The family and often a few extras come together for dinner and catch up.
If you could teach a group of people one thing, what would it be?
To plant and manage a successful vegetable garden - and then how to prepare and cook a meal to share. The important things in life - eating, drinking, laughing with friends and family. The most rewarding thing anyone can do, and anyone can do it!
When was the last time you felt defeated by something in life?
It may sounds a bit egotistical and unrealistic but I dont think I have never felt defeated. (except in the sense of being defeated on the sports field). I see defeat as an amazing opportunity to learn. These moment in life can and are often the most rewarding and exciting thus they are not remembered as a feeling of defeat but a sense of growth and learning.
Who has been a significant inspiration in your life and why?
My Grandmother my Mother and my Sisters are the most significant inspiration in my life. All these women are amazing. They are loving, caring, generous, strong, resilient and such an important part of my life and who I am. Unconditional love and support is the glue of our family, you always know that someone has your back and will stand by you no matter what. They may not always agree with you but their unconditional love and support allows one to push the boundaries with confidence.
Describe your most memorable adventure as an adult.
Im still a child! - ( no, just kidding) My most memorable adventure was Christmas 2012 when I travelled around Europe for 8 weeks with my husband and our 2 adult children. It was wonderful to spend every day and night together, just he four of us with no fixed agenda, no work, no distractions. Just living - laughing, talking, eating, walking, exploring - it was heaven.
If you had to recommend a favourite music album, what would it be?
I am a bit of a fan of John Butler Trio - Sunrise over Sea - but thats just for today it will be something different tomorrow. Having a favourite song is like having a favourite plant - it just isnt possible as there are so many to love. I recommend any music that makes you happy and want to dance like no one is watching. ;-)