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Skope Issue 7
MAKING THE TOWN GLITTER
There are plenty of places around Australia where it’s a challenge to make the ‘greening’ happen. Which means that to be an effective landscaper in this country you must be honest about the local conditions: the poor soils, the ferocious summers, the scarcity of water. If you top this honesty with knowing your stuff, you can work around challenges like these and produce results, like those achieved by the team from Yurra up in the Pilbara. They’re building green environments for seriously sun-baked, parched communities – and they’re doing it with an added twist...
Justin Byrne, is one of the management team at Yurra. He was there at the beginning when this profit-driven social enterprise was put together five years ago. Justin, who is Yurra’s Landscape Manager, came originally from Adelaide where he’d begun landscaping in his teens. Building what has become 30 years worth of experience, he moved to Perth to work on a Westfield shopping centre. He then joined various landscape firms, at one point setting up his own, before heading north to Port Hedland 12 years ago. He’s kept his eyes open over the years, often witnessing stiff competition. He’s also seen that projects won primarily on price often don’t make the grade in terms of quality or longevity. Some of these observations have influenced the philosophies behind Yurra.Read more
Skope Issue 6
MAKING LIFE BALANCE
Two years ago, when Robert Murray walked through the Penrhos College gates for the first time, he didn’t realise then that this school would become not only a big part of his life, but at the same time give him more life at home...
The story begins in Perth where he was born and raised. Leaving school he worked his way through the usual supermarket, fast food and hospitality positions before taking off on a young man’s adventure to Victoria. While living and working for a few years in Bendigo, several major things happened. He fell in love; he got married; his son was born; and he made the decision to direct his career by studying horticulture. “When I qualified, I started driving trucks and doing weekend landscaping, then I moved on to work at a garden centre where I learned a lot. After that I started my own business full time.”Read more
Skope Issue 5
PROFIT WITH A PURPOSE
For the last 25 years, Workpower in Western Australia has been creating opportunities for people with disability. It’s an organisation that does an extraordinary job of making a difference to those who benefit from its support. And while it provides traditional support services, it also operates a range of social enterprises across Perth, employing over 300 people with disability. One of these enterprises is Workpower’s Environmental Services division, led by manager Alex Growden. Not only does Alex and his team make a great environmental impact (tick), they’re also boosting the organisation’s bottom line and helping to change lives (tick, tick).
Back 12 years ago when Alex joined Workpower, things were a little more basic than they are now. “The division wasn’t big – there were two staff and one ute and we worked out of a shed – but from there we grew the business.” Alex likes what he does, and is the first to acknowledge that he was very lucky to get into this industry.Read more
Skope Issue 4
BUILDING A GOOD TEAM
If a business is ticking along nicely, it’s often thanks to the obvious: good demand, good staff, good relationships with clients. And while these factors may be ‘duhh’ to most of us, it never hurts to wave them around every now and then as a reminder of where we should probably be heading. Take Horizon West’s landscape business, for example. They’d be the last people to pat themselves on the back for having a good in-house culture: they’re too busy getting on with the job. But that’s exactly what they’ve created and it’s working well for them and for the people they work with. Gavin Dalton gives us a quick, unembellished look in...
He’s a good choice to act as tour guide, given he’s a relatively new addition. For 18 odd years he worked at Dawson’s Garden World, liaising with customers, offering them his horticultural experience to sort their garden challenges. And for the last four years he’s run Horizon West’s landscape maintenance section. “There are three arms: construction, irrigation and maintenance, and with a staff of around fifty we cover the metro Perth area, as far north as Two Rocks, east to Ellenbrook and down south as far as Mandurah.”Read more
Skope Issue 3
THE ROSE WHISPERER
Perched on the Swan River escarpment at Claremont in Perth is a college for young ladies that’s surrounded by roses. Standing like a queen, at its centre is the same building that opened its doors to students in 1908. More than 100 years later, it’s surrounded by the modern school grounds necessary to service the needs of over 1,000 students. And it’s these grounds that have been the responsibility of Barry Burgess for ten years: he’s Grounds Manager at Methodist Ladies College, and the man with the magic...
“We’ve roughly 25 acres running from the Stirling Highway to the Swan River which we manage with a team of three full time.” Listening to Barry describe the sort of items that end up on the teams to do list, it’s obvious that the team gets thrown a fair few curve balls. From their base, a purpose-built space beneath the tennis courts, “We all head out first thing at six to check over our areas because a lot can happen between then three o’clock the day before when we finish work.”...Read more
Skope Issue 2
THIS WAS ONCE, THIS
Some of the landscapes we’re familiar with might not be what they seem. We assume they’re natural – stable coastal dunes, sweeps of banksia woodland, healthily diverse wetlands. And much of the time they are relatively untouched. But sometimes they aren’t. Many high conservation value wetlands, and highly disturbed coastal dune systems around Perth and the southwest have been rehabilitated following decades of human disturbance. Sections of both the Reid and Roe highways have also been given the treatment. When the Dawesville Cut was made at Mandurah, the five hectares of spoil was seeded and planted out to make it look as though the landscape had always been there, albeit now in a tidier format. Each of these sites happens to be the work of the collective of expertise which sits under the banner of Tranen Revegetation Systems. Since 2002, the team has delivered these amongst 740-odd rehabilitation projects. General Manager and natural area rehabilitation specialist Damian Grose describes what’s involved to transform bare earth to natural-like landscapes...
Listening to Damian describe what’s involved in getting these projects ‘right’ begins to sound like landscape version of horse whispering. He describes re-creating, as closely as possible, the look and function of natural systems. “We need to understand which plants should be growing where, and by looking at all the elements holistically, aim for optimum establishment and long-term success.”Read more
Skope Issue 1
WORK WITH WHAT YOU'VE GOT & GET WHAT YOU NEED TO WORK WITH
We don’t often look back over our shoulder at our working pasts, but when we do, we’re often surprised. As time flies, the arena we operate within shifts and we tend to take it in stride without paying much attention. If you’re not convinced this happens, try explaining faxes or beepers to the newest person on your team and watch their reaction.
Alison Waters’ career in horticulture is a good example, though it should be said up front that she is someone who clearly welcomes change where she can see the benefits. “If you work smarter then you work better.” She’s just recently walked onto the team at WA’s City of Cockburn, as Parks Operations Co-ordinator. But the first taste she had of this sort of role was back in 2009, three councils ago, and about 900 kilometres north of Perth...Read more