Riley Cooper: Pocket Profile
Riley Cooper is returning to the 2024 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show, but this time, in the crowd-favourite Landscape Design Show Gardens Competition!
Riley is a qualified landscape designer and horticulturalist with over 10 years’ experience in the industry. Riley has recently started his own business designing creative, inspired and plant-focused gardens. Riley is passionate about education in the industry and has been teaching the Diploma of Landscape Design for the past few years at Swinburne. He has previously entered the student gardens achievable design section with Angus Houghton-Norris as well as the emergent designers section, and most notably competed in the boutique garden section in 2023 receiving second place. This is Riley’s first time showing a garden in the major show garden category. Teaming up with Landscape construction company Bays edge Landscapes and Abcam Horticulture to build and install the design.
2024 Show Garden Profile
Gratus represents gratitude, a place to thank the people who came before us and who matter today. As a society we can take things for granted, and this garden is about celebrating the quiet achievers in our lives. The teachers, the carers, the workers – anyone who may be overlooked or forgotten in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Gratus beckons us to stop, pause, and take a moment to appreciate everything we have in the now. It’s a gathering space to take the time to care for one another and reflect on the community we share. The spa is inspired by the roman baths, designed as a lowered space to sit and converse. Likewise, the central dining area is an open table accessible on all sides to symbolise the coming together as a group from all corners of the garden. The winding garden paths acknowledge that we don’t all walk the same path, but we can all still end up in the same central point together.
The garden itself is a fusion of order and chaos, there are strong angular lines as well as dynamic plant choices. The materiality of the garden is grounded with strong natural cypress timber and soft limestone paving. So often we try to tame and control our gardens, but this is an embrace of the beauty of organised chaos. We can sit back and reflect on the natural beauty without having to make sense of everything around us.
When/How did you get into the industry?
Over 10 years ago as a career change after studying Science (Chemistry), I fell in love with unique plants and gardens. Worked as a landscape gardener then studied design and horticulture diplomas
What are you most excited about at this year’s #melbflowershow?
The student achievable gardens, I know how much work goes into those gardens. Such creative designs that always look astounding
What is the gardening trend of the season?
The unusual, particularly bold plants with unique foliage
Who has been the biggest influence on your design career?
Too many to name just one, in terms of inspiration I would say designers Tom Stuart-Smith, Ula Maria and Daniel Nolan to name a few.
If you could invite any three people to a garden party who would they be?
At the risk of sounding corny, My Mum, Dad and my wife. Gardens are my happy place and I enjoy their company the most