Designing with Biodiversity in Mind with Emmaline Bowman from STEM Landscape Architecture
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
In episode 13 of Think Big, I share a conversation I had with Emmaline Bowman about designing with biodiversity in mind. Emmaline is the director & founder of STEM Landscape Architecture and Design in Australia. Emmaline has a Bachelor of Design & a Masters in Landscape Architecture.
Em believes that every answer can be delivered when you look into nature, & she strives in creating environments that respect Australian flora & fauna in ways that are not only beneficial but beautiful.
I enjoyed listening to Em discuss her earlier influences and how she approaches her projects with biodiversity in mind.
✨What is an Acknowledgement of Country?
✨Emmaline's early childhood influences and what lead her to pursue landscape architecture
✨Why she believes we should educate our clients more about biodiversity
✨How she communicates the designs to clients
✨Australian Indigenous Bushfoods
Episode 12 - How to Learn More about Plants and Vocabulary for Plants and Planting
Episode 11 - Building Smart Zero-Net Carbon Cities: Paris Climate Action Plan and the Language of Cause & Effect
✨ Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/archienglishteacher
✨ Connect with me on LinkedIn Tara Cull
Ready to take action to speak up and share your voice?
In November 2021 we are starting the very first ArchiEnglish practice - a group coaching program to get you confidently express your words. Come and join me and other professionals in the built design profession to share your voice and speak up with more confidence. ArchiEnglish Practice Course
Table of Contents
💻 Tucker Bush Plants - https://tuckerbush.com.au/
💻 Eucalyptus olida - Em discusses this plant in the episode
📹 Emmaline Bowlman on Gardening Australia
revegetating / reveg - is the process of replanting and rebuilding the soil of disturbed land
indigenous planting - plants native to a specific local area
transparency - being honest and open with people
biodiversity - the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat Green links - vegetated corridor of open space/trees/parks/reserves that provide a continuously connected link of biodiversity between urban areas and the natural environment
Green wedges - open spaces around and near urban areas to connect green spaces
nature play - any activity that gets children active or thinking actively outdoors in nature
softscaping - planting monoculture - planting only one species or a few different species of plants in a large area
Expressions / Phrases
to have something in mind - be thinking of something in particular
hit the nail on the head - to get something exactly right
to be taken for a ride - to be tricked or lied to
Setting yourself up (for failure) - try to make people believe you can do something even though you know you can't
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:00
You're listening to think big Episode 13
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:15
Hello Big Thinkers and welcome back to Episode 13 of Think Big English for architects. I'm your host Tara Cull landscape architect, English teacher and communication coach for Arkinglish. As part of my work at ArchiEnglish, I coach people in the built design profession who speak English as a second language to build outstanding communication skills and feel more confident to speak up in November 2021. I'm very excited to say that we are starting the very first arky English practice, which is a group coaching programme to get you confidently expressing your words, your ideas and your opinions. If this sounds like you come and join me and some other professionals who have already joined the coaching programme, to share your voice and to speak up with more confidence. You can learn more about this coaching programme if you go to archy english.com slash courses. Now if this is the first time you have listened to the podcast, I suggest you go back to the start to find out more about what the podcast is all about. Today's episode is a listening resource to help you with listening skills and also building vocabulary around plants and planting and describing the importance of biodiversity to clients. It's also a discussion about some of the challenges that the built design profession faces. if English is your second language, and you would like to build more professional language skills, and improve your critical thinking skills in English, then you will definitely enjoy this episode. In today's episode, I'm so excited to share a conversation I had with emmalyn Bowman from stem Landscape Architecture and Design in Australia. The work of her practice in Australia really resonated with me since her and her team have a strong commitment to designing sustainable gardens that are not only beautiful, but function with the purpose to sustain wildlife and better the earth and also to connect people to the environment to connect the clients to the environment. They want to connect people back to the environment to allow children and adults to explore and also to understand nature. And to better understand how the urban surroundings can have an impact and how we can allow for biodiversity with animals and the ecosystems. sticking to the theme of planting from the last episode, you'll hear a lot of vocabulary and expressions about plants and planting. And you'll find all the key vocabulary and the transcript in today's show notes at archy english.com slash podcast. So let's get into today's episode.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 03:08
All right, well, thank you M for joining me today. I really appreciate you taking the time to have this chat with me. I think it's been we've we've taken a few weeks to get here. But we're here now. So thank you very much for joining me.
Emmaline Bowman 03:20
No, thank you for having me. If you don't mind, can I do an acknowledgement of country before we start? Yeah, absolutely. Go ahead. Wonderful. So I would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation who were who are the traditional owners of the land on which we work, live and grow. And we repeat, we respect their elders past, present and emerging.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 03:44
Thank you. So I think it's interesting that you started with that. And I think it's something that a lot of my students have actually been asking about recently. So could you explain why do we start with an acknowledgement of country? What does it mean?
Emmaline Bowman 03:58
Yeah, so I like to pay respect to our traditional owners. And the reason why we do it is because as Australians, we've actually come into this country, and the lands have been taken from Aboriginals who used to live here. And I find that more and more as I work in this environment, that all the plants and the knowledge that I'm gaining, it's the more and more I realise that quite a terrible thing has happened to our indigenous Australians. And I really, I feel kind of deep about that. So I really want to make sure that I pay respects to them. And I think that it's a discussion that a lot of other people should sort of open their eyes to as well because when we are using all those natural elements of our landscape, in essence, you know, we are using parts of their land and the things that they use. So yeah, it's basically me just really paying respect, sir. Okay, well, thank you very much for doing
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 05:00
I think it's important. So just to kind of explain a little bit more about what a statement, or an acknowledgement of country is, it's essentially a statement, or that shows awareness and respect for the traditional custodians of the land. And often you can do it before, like an online meeting, or meeting or an official government meeting. And it can be done by somebody who's indigenous or somebody who is an indigenous. And I think it's important to pay respect. So thank you very much. That was a good beginning to our conversation. So for those of the listeners who don't know who you are, could you explain who you are, and a little bit more about your background and your story? Yeah, so my name's Emily, Emily Bowman, and yeah, so I am a Landscape architect, and I own a business called STEM. And I created STEM because I saw a gap in the industry where I was working, where, you know, we weren't thinking about how we were planting for wildlife, and, you know, all the insects and the biodiversity and for indigenous plantings. And even though it seems like we're going on this massive green trend, it still was being said that they were doing it, but it wasn't actually happening. And I sort of wanted to start stem to ignite that curiosity in people in that love for nature. And that's basically my ethos of what stem is about. And the way that I got to this point was I really grew up on a farm, which people kind of like, Oh, you know, cows and all that sort of stuff, you know, how did you get to animals, it was more dad was revegetating the creek along the property. And I would go with him, and you know, helping with the planting. And I was obsessed in water, like so obsessed. And, you know, I would watch how the plants would grow. And I would see how everything changed. I saw that insects calm, I would collect these insects in little tubs. And you know, I was doing all that. And then I got a fish tank from my dad when I was eight years old. And my fish kept dying. And I was like, what's that I would go back to the creek and I'd be like, why is the water so clean here? Why have I got bugs why I've got plants. So what I did is I took the soil and I took some of the plants and the bugs and I put them in my fish tank. And it was the first time where I had this fish time that lasted for like three months without needing a water change and stayed clean. And oh, my fish died. I was like, Oh my god, what is happening. And later on, I went into the like actually worked in aquariums. And it was like they were I started to everything made sense, because I was bringing in bacteria and micro organisms into my water to create this little ecosystem in a fish tank. And I brought in plants and things like that. So I was like, Oh, now I know why this happened. And then that's where the addiction started. So I had, I had 15 foot tanks at dads when I was 18. He's like, what are you doing? And I was I'm gonna do biology and zoology and Take your tanks with you! You know, I did it.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 06:28
That was his fault you did it right?
Emmaline Bowman 08:16
He ignited it and to his demise, because he wants me back on the farm to work. But you know, my new road, but um, I did biology and zoology. And I was going on this course and I really loved it. I really did. But I didn't see a future or I always wanted to change things. I wanted to change it where I was helping animals. I wanted to be able to bring in biodiversity and you know, all those sort of things. And I saw a path of becoming a park ranger or working in a lab and also like, wow, you know, this isn't it. So I started investigating other ways. And that's when I found landscape architecture. And I thought, well, I can combine my plant knowledge and my love for like animals and fish. And I can put this into landscape architecture. And that's what I did. So I worked at an aquarium at the same time. So I was still creating fish tanks. And I was helping people with their ponds and things like that. But while I was at landscape architecture, I was learning all the architectural elements as well and designing and CAD and all that sort of stuff. And somehow it just all came together I just kept doing pawns and I did my masters on how we could cross animals and architecture together. So in urban environments, if we promote indigenous plantings, which means your plants local to the area that we could then increase our biodiversity and that tool of designing for our wildlife and for ecosystems could be applied to everything. We could talk about cities to backyards and doing that we create these green links and wedges and in doing so if it is privileging indigenous and those species of plants then you are creating a hierarchy to protect and encourage your local species to come back rather than introduced species. I hope that's not too long. But I hope that makes sense. And that's how we started stem.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 10:11
Yeah. So I mean, just sort of taking it back to the beginning. I think it's really important. And I think it ties in with the next question I want to ask you is looking at, you know, your your interest in your curiosity started off when you're quite young, and your environment and learning from your dad, even though he was he was telling you take your fish tanks with you. Yeah, it's such a nice story that he really started your, your interest and love for understanding more about how the landscapes work, I have a similar story, when I was younger, my grandma used to take me out on walks around her property in Emerald. And we would look at ferns and we would look at the mosses. And we would look at how things worked. And that really, that's really, when I think about my journey into landscape architecture. That's really where it started when I was quite young. And so I think this really goes back to what I wanted to ask you, which was thinking about, there's a quote on your website, which I absolutely love, I think it really illustrates sort of what you're trying to do with your work at stem. And it says, We want to connect people back to the environment, to allow children and adults to explore and understand nature, we aim to better our urban surroundings to allow for the biodiversity of animals and ecosystems. So I think that's such a beautiful example, because you've really taken your story as well and put it into those words. So could you talk us through why this is so important to you and your work at stem?
Emmaline Bowman 11:41
Yeah, well, you kind of hit the nail on the head in yourself, because when you're a child, what you're exposed to sticks with you for life, and I'm finding, you know, from growing up in the country, and observing what happens in urban environments, and seeing a very different way that, you know, people are growing up. And I think having that connection to your natural world, and the landscape is really important, because it gives you a grounding and an appreciation for the complexities of our earth, and all the ecosystems. And it also, I feel like it helps you mentally as well, because you realise that you're not the most important thing in the whole wide world, that there is this whole complex organism working together, and that we are all working together, whether that be, you know, it could be just your team members, you know, we start to unpack that and understand at very young age, it's really beneficial. But yeah, I find that I want to ignite that through these designs. So when kids are at home, you know, they're getting out into the garden, and they are seeing these, these, these systems are seeing the plants just like what you did. And then I find that when they grow into human beings, they kind of have a better appreciation. And they kind of go on a really interesting path. Because I find that happens a lot with the people who I meet in the industry and in other industries, they have a wonderful story to tell. And it starts from a young age. Yeah. And do you work with? Do some of your clients have kids as well that you're able to see them interacting in the lens? Yeah, yeah, we've touched on that. So a lot of a lot of the people that we work with have children. So we really inspire nature play and all those elements into the, into our Designs. And if it's not, parents, it's grandparents. And they are also also into getting their grandchildren to play, you know. So that is a really big part of what we want to do and what we want to design for so that these kids are sort of seeing it. And at the same time, it brings out the inner child to the parents as well, because it can take you right back to that time when you were climbing a tree. And when you were looking at it, and you think you got it so weird, either. Those are the things so it's I think it's really beautiful. It grounds us and we really need that grounding at the moment, I find
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 14:09
I think so. I mean, you know, at the moment, all the kids that I work with, they just they've got their heads in their iPads, or they're watching TV, and it's sometimes a bit of a fight to sort of get them to go outside. So I imagine having that space where there's a lot of diversity, plant diversity, different landscapes, they can kind of run and play, things like that in their backyard, then that really encourages them. And so do you work mostly with residential clients? Or do you work on say, big commercial projects? Or could you talk us through that? A little bit?
Emmaline Bowman 14:46
Yeah, so most of our projects are residential, but we have worked with commercial clients as well. Now commercial clients are obviously looking for designs that are looking for Habitat greening. And all that sort of stuff. So we find that really wonderful when they do come to us, I also find a little bit conflicting because sometimes they're working with budgets and certain way they want to mould you into the design. So I do find that it's a bit challenging sometimes to work with them. But that being said, like with our residential clients, we, it seems like a lot more like design flexibility, they more open to, you know, really wonderful designs, some things that are different, they, some of them have really good budget, some of them don't, and working with what they have is kind of fun, it's also challenging as well. But you know, if they do have a lower budget, then you can do a lot more softscaping, which is exactly what we love to do anyway. So whereas, yeah, and I love that, but our commercial, you know, quiet, it's a lot more hardscape. So you're sort of like, you're at this sort of Crossroads where you're like, what do I like more, you know, so I definitely do like my residential projects a lot more. But, yeah, commercial development is an area where I think we really need to change the way that we are designing because I find that it's Yeah, it's it's probably sometimes not going down the right track. Or you might observe that they they do too many monocultures, which is quite problematic and things like that. So, yeah, it's, it's an area that we could do
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 16:30
It's a balance, isn't it? I mean, yeah, what you're saying about the monocultures and and also I think there's a lot of people working within commercial spaces that don't necessarily have the biological or the scientific knowledge. And so it is about education and kind of understanding. Whereas when you're working with residential clients, you can be in front of the people who are directly going to use the landscape, so you can have those conversations. But yeah, it is a tough thing, something that I wanted to touch on actually, we were speaking about it before we hit record, talking about women in this position. So working in, particularly in residential, you know, both of both of us have worked in residential spaces, and it can be quite male dominated. And what do you feel Why do you feel it's important as a woman to sort of be there and to be putting yourself forward and, and sharing your ideas,
Emmaline Bowman 17:27
I think it's really important that women are really engaged in this industry, and there's more of us, because I find that it has been a male dominated industry for quite a long time. And what I find that really interesting, as most of your clientele are women, versus the people who want these designs are women. And, you know, I find that when a lot of male dominated industries come in, you can see a change in the way that design happens as well, you'll get a lot more hardscapes, you'll get more lawns, you get more of this, and that. And it's funny with clients, too, is that like, I don't know how many times I've heard it, where women are like, I don't want any lawn, I don't want any parts I want, I want, I want flowers, I want bugs to come in, I want to raise veggie patch. And the guys are like, I want to learn, I want to hedge and I want it manicured, you know, and it's like, I want to be able to mow the lawn, they need to do something I needed like clean. And that's not for all of course, but I find that there's a really, it's quite unbalanced. When it's such a like, it seems like a quite a feminine area. So I think it's really important that there is more women engaged in this industry, because we need to really balance out that gender inequality that is happening. And not only that, it is quite tough to design and, you know, work with male contractors in some aspects, some of them are fantastic, you know, they really, you know, want you to succeed. And some of them, you know, might be a little bit like confronted that there's a woman sort of going, Hey, this is how this is supposed to be done to tell I want it to look and you know, it's not what they used to do. So, in that aspect, you know, it's, it's really important that we're thinking about how we can balance that. Yeah, so yeah, I just, I find that it's really important that we do balance the industry, because just like anything, if we are looking to create inequality within our society, then we need to start engaging ourselves into it and showing them what we can do and how we can make it better. And it's definitely starting to happen.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 19:32
Yeah, and I think it's great that you're sharing your ideas and putting your ideas out there. And it's not always easy to share ideas in a male dominated space. But, you know, the more that you do it, the easier it becomes, I guess. Well, thank you for sharing that. It's not always easy to talk about those aspects of, of working, but I think it's important to talk about it. Okay, so I have a question in terms of What you value when it comes to design? What is the number one thing that you value when you're working with clients and you're designing a landscape?
Emmaline Bowman 20:09
Mine would be that my clients engage with the design that we create. So I want them to really love the design and love the process. And then when it's finished, that they still want to be part of it involved, and they feel like they are part of it. I think that's really important. Like it's not, yeah, if you just do a design where you're just like, yeah, I can do this for you. Here's your plan, go off with it. I think that that kind of loses that love. That's part of it. So yeah, I would say it's definitely keeping the client involved and making them feel like, yeah, they've also built it was really okay, and how, like, what are some of the ways that you try to get them involved in the design process. So the foot, we always have a site consultation, and always like walking around, and a lot of people don't know, you know, that they have native plants on their property, or they even indigenous stuff. So, you know, they might have thought that some of these things were Wait, and I'm like, you know, a walkthrough, and you got to get them excited, like, Oh, my God, you know, this is this is this, this is not Do you know, if you do you know how important this is, is like a food source, it used to be for our aboriginals, you know, there's a lot of butterfly species that they eat from this, or they create this great habitat. And they're like, Oh, you know, I never even knew, you know, it could be azole, or it could be any sort of part. And you get them engaged and excited. Because then they're like, Oh, you know, I didn't even realise this show. Special. And then you give them the story behind it. And you say, like, why it's important, and it completely changes the way that they, you know, they see that plant again, because it is at all how we see it, you know, you see a way you gotta lead, you have a negative connotation? With Yeah, yeah.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 21:59
So it's kind of about educating them. And, and, and sort of doing in such a way that you're telling those stories, I love that idea about telling them the stories because that that's how they connect to what's important. So I guess that takes me to my next question, I guess you've already started to answer it, which is, what do you think, are the most important things about explaining the design to a client? Particularly if they don't necessarily, I guess, understand? Or they, they need that sort of explanation?
Emmaline Bowman 22:31
Yeah, I mean, it could be a bit tough. So if I'm communicating with the clients, you know, obviously, it comes with a visual perspective. So I'll show them the types of plants. That's what I usually do is, I'll give them a bit of a palette of the types of plants and not also tell them about how cool they are, you know what, what they do, do you know, these, these birds will come to it, these insects will come to it. And then Oh, they want a veggie garden. Oh, did you know if we do this, we'll get this type of insect that can pollinate your plants. So we create this cycle. I think that's, that's the sort of role I sort of take to really get people in get like you to be persuaded into what I want them to see is my view.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 23:19
Yeah, so it's about showing them what plant it is, but also what it's going to do and how it's going to benefit them. But also how it's going to benefit the environment, I guess.
Emmaline Bowman 23:30
That's right. And it can be anything you know, it could it could be that it's benefiting the environment in terms of its for an animal or it's for an insect, but maybe even it provides fruit and they can pick it if they have little kids and they can go in and pick a little bit of bush food and you know, they're engaging with it. And they're also engaging with, you know, foods that were once consumed. It's it's pretty shocking in Australia that, you know, we have all these bush foods, you the only one that's commercially available is like macadamia, you know, it's pretty easy. There's a range of Tucker Time Now isn't that in Australia? Tucker time do you use those in your designs? We do have some, like, we've got all like the celeries and you know, we use Australoma, and we use the Apple Berries and, you know, yeah I had a mental blank them. But yeah, we use a whole lot of them. And it's really changing. It really is like there's more people wanting to have these foods in their garden. And yeah, I think it's fantastic. And it is especially more so within little kindergartens and people who have kids because they want them to go out and they want them to know because they didn't necessarily have that knowledge available to them when they were kids. Yeah. Could you explain what bush foods are? For those who don't know what they are?
Emmaline Bowman 24:49
Yeah. So which foods are our native plants that obviously provide fruit and our indigenous Australians were actually quite a complex population of people because they farmed the land, and they had a whole range of foods available to them. And as bush tucker is like about having like your gardens and bringing back these plants, and not only do they provide food for all your animals and insects and things like that, but you're also able to engage and have your own little resource as well. So they're really promoting it because we are losing, you know, a lot of our bush foods to, you know, we're losing a lot of land and losing a lot of habitat, we're losing a lot of everything. So the fact that we can bring these in and really celebrate our Australian plants, and the Australian food is really, really great, I think. Yeah, yeah, at the moment.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 25:46
Yeah, actually, I did, I was just thinking about a project that I did. Well, two projects that I did before I came to France, I did one project, which was working with a restaurant in Melbourne, and we had a series of bush foods in their kitchen garden. And we had we created tags so that the chefs would know exactly what these bush foods were, and how they could use them. And so we gave them recipes and things like that. And some of them had no idea that these things existed. So we were helping them to understand how they could use them. And then another project actually, before I left, my friends asked me to design their front garden and we use all plants that were either producing a berry or they were from the bush foods list or the taco time series of plants. And yeah, and they love it they go out and they harvest the plants they are eating like the pig face. They're doing all these things and for me that's so encouraging to see people being excited about it and also it's good for commercial plant production because the more people know about it, the more people are doing it and yeah it's good for you as well to be able to incorporate that into your projects so yeah, I forgot about bush foods thank you for mentioning that
Very unique to wouldn't taste anything like where my guess see that when you go to different What's your favourite bush food? At the moment? I've been obsessed in that strawberry gum. Oh it's incredible it's a it's a gum tree and yeah, we grind up the leaves and it's it's like a lolly and you can put it on like your ice cream or you know you might put on a cupcake or something and you will not be able to tell what the flavour is it's nice to kind of taste like a lowly but you'll just be like blown away and now they're doing like yeah, it's really good. I think that's lately big my Yeah, my bit of like, Wow, that's a really cool one. And the fact that family if you like, these things are toxic.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 27:50
Yeah, yeah, there's one that was one that there's one that they sell here occasionally, it's the the finger lime, and which I'm sort of amazed. Every time I see an Australian plant in France. I oh my gosh, there's a colostomy or there's a finger line. But yeah, that one that one's incredible. I like that one. It's really cool. It's like eating
Emmaline Bowman 28:11
like eating. What is it fish eggs popping in? Yeah, we got these frozen yoghurt in Melbourne, like a place called yo T. I don't know if you had that when you were here. And they've got these little balls that are similar, and they're like, full of like, mango flavour or citrus. And that's what it reminds me of. I love them. I don't know why. Yeah.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 28:32
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 28:36
Okay, so speaking of like, a bit out there ideas, trying to convince people about bush food, I guess. Have you ever had to introduce some ideas to clients or even to consultants where you needed to persuade them? That it was a good idea? Yeah, so
Emmaline Bowman 28:55
we find like, sometimes there'll be an idea that the client will want and you're just thinking, it's not really going to work, you know, with the landscape and that's one of the biggest things that you know, when you go to site and that's why consultations are really important is because you need to really understand the site and how it works. And so you know, say that
Emmaline Bowman 29:18
someone wants something a lot before saying like either a fire pit or something like that, you know, you kind of go well, you could have it here but this is a really low lying area and you're subjected to flooding. So you know, maybe it's better that you think about maybe it should be a swell system or a natural femoral pool or a pond or something and we can you know, change that up and you know, instead of your, you know, your fire pit area, we could move back a little bit and we could, you know, propose that there's a little deck or something and you can be next to the pond and you can sit around and enjoy that area and you could bring up a movable fire pit or something, you know.
Emmaline Bowman 29:58
I find that's really important because
Emmaline Bowman 30:00
You know, sites, people have these perceptions of this site. And they, they, you know, think they can change everything. But I think it's really important that you do observe the conditions on your site. And if it's not, you know, if it's not going to work, I think it's really important that you, as a professional can see that and be able to guide them in the right direction. Yeah, I think guiding is the good word, isn't it? You can't just be like, no, not a good idea. Don't put a fire pit, you've got to kind of talk them around, like, have you considered the fact that this will happen? or what have you, what do you think about this idea, so you kind of inviting them to understand more without saying, just no, which is, I think, really important, you've got to kind of listen to their ideas. And, and, and give them some alternatives. A client really likes to be listened to, I think that's one of the biggest feedback that we get is that they say, we really love that you listened to what we what we wanted. And what we had to say in our brief. And I think that's really important, as a designer, is to really listen, and not to put your own view on to how you want it to look, you have to really listen to what they want, and make sure you hear it. And then if you think it's not right, you can tell them why you think it's not right. But then still try and bring something of them back into it.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 31:24
How do you, I really think that listening is an important skill. And all everyone that I speak to talks about listening, I think it's such an important skill to have. How do you be a good listener?
Emmaline Bowman 31:41
I think you're born with it. So
Emmaline Bowman 31:46
I, I love listening to people's stories, I think I kind of mean it in a way like you are born into. And I think it's really important to listen to people's stories. Everyone's different. And, you know, the way that they'll use their garden will be reflective of their character. But I tend to like, when I see my clients and meet them for the first time, they're always a bit like, Well, how do we do this? How do we start and I go, No, I go, you this is your God, you're going to you, you can start however, where you want, I want this to be really natural, I want you to be able to feel really comfortable with me, we might want to start with a cup of tea, you might tell me, you might want to show me some pictures of gardens that you really like or maybe you want to delve right in and show me like part of the garden that you, you know, you, you find that you want to change or that you want to revamp, show me what you want. And that's how I always usually started. And I think making them very comfortable is really important. And I think that's the first thing that you really have to sort of learn to do. And I mean, you can learn that with your friends. You know, when you're, you know, when you're in social environments, it's always about making people feel comfortable because it brings out them their true self, if you're pretending to be something else, they're not going to, you know, show their true selves. So, yeah, that's how I would say I get them to sort of, you know, show me and yeah, I love that idea about trying to understand more about people's stories. I was actually listening to a podcast yesterday with Renee brown and she did something really clever which I loved. She was listening to the person speak and all she said was same or same or and and it just got the got the person just really digging deeper into the, to their story and to the ideas. And I think the more you tell somebody say more say more they get really deep into their feelings and that's kind of what you're trying to do, I guess and I also loved how you mentioned about the cup of tea. I think that is my favourite part of going to a client's house is having tea with them or a cup of coffee. Yes, yeah, it's the same. And I think it's like the thing we all feel as humans is the food and that that really primal thing really brings you together and you can sort of relax and merge into that conversation. Yeah, absolutely.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 34:10
Yeah, we all need tea and coffee, don't we?
Emmaline Bowman 34:12
Yes. Love it. So
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 34:16
I guess we've already touched on I've actually but what do you believe is the most important thing when it comes to communication,
Emmaline Bowman 34:23
I think transparency and feeling like there sometimes a lot of people feel like they might be be taken for a ride and they might feel like you might try to rip them off there is unfortunately there is a lot of that in the industry. I don't know in all other parts of the world but it is happening a lot. And I always really try and be as open as I can and work with like saying to them, you know, I know it's hard to talk about budgets, but you know, we really do need to talk about a budget because I need to be able to sign to cater for your amount and you know, that's why I also have contractors that I always regularly use because they are also people who I really trust. And I want to make sure that their journey in their design process and the outcome of the build is with someone they do trust, because I've seen it happen before when I was working for someone else, that they didn't feel that and it was very uncomfortable. And I had no say in it because I was working for that person. And I was just sort of like, this is horrible. You know, this is they're just making money out of it. And it set a bad time because they talk to other people. So yeah, I think transparency and gaining trust and really meaning it when you want to give them a good outcome and making them feel like Yeah, I think that's super important. And I think you seem like somebody who, just from what you say and how you say it, that trust is such an important aspect. Sometimes I think those bad experiences that we have can sort of make us realise what is important to us. So I think, you know, even though it was bad, it's kind of showed you what's important in your business. And it's your business as well, isn't it? Yeah, it's you and your face? Yeah. And I don't want to be known for that. I want to be known that you know, we are trustworthy. Yeah, that we actually passionate and Yeah, it definitely comes through that's for sure your passion and your willingness and want to kind of bring things together, I think it's good. And even I can see in your camera, no one can see this, but you've got the plants in the background. So you're really practising what you preach with great
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 36:43
I'm a little bit jealous. I don't have as many as you but we're getting there. When you when you work at a nursery, or when you work with plants, you become a bit obsessed with them, don't you? Like this? Oh, amazing. Yeah. Can they do this?
Emmaline Bowman 37:02
That's right. And then you realise that you just don't know anything? I don't know. That's true. Sometimes, like, the more I learn, I'm like, oh, man, I don't know enough to keep meeting. So that's, that's why when people say you're a professional, I've always like, Yeah, but you'd never, ever stop learning about plants, there's so many things that you can do is that you can still continue to learn. I was gonna say I would, I actually would say that, that is a really important thing, because I noticed that people who do say that they know everything, or they act like that, I find that that's actually quite problematic. Because you're sort of setting yourself up to under, like, you're not really showing that you're open to learn. So it's really important to realise that you won't know everything, and that the whole life is a learning process. And you really, you can't really be confined to that that ideology that you're like, I know everything, and no one else knows nothing. You know, it's really important to be open minded.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 38:05
And I think that's good. That really goes back to the transparency and saying, you know, actually, I don't know everything, but I will, I will do something to find out more, or I'm going to help you in in that journey. I mean, I even feel that sometimes as an English teacher, they'll ask me a question. I'll say, I actually don't know the answer to that. But I'll look it up for you. I'll get back to you. And people appreciate the realness I think the authenticity behind I'm not just telling you what to do, I'm helping him. I'm trying to guide you to get there.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 38:40
So you with your design, so obviously your designs are quite, quite natural, I guess. What, what tools and software systems do you use to communicate your ideas to clients?
Emmaline Bowman 38:54
We use, so most people use AutoCAD, but we use vectorworks. That's our drafting software. And the reason we use that is because they've got a fantastic planting tool and schedule on that system. So with AutoCAD, you would used to have to punch it all in Excel, and it would take so long, whereas this is like you could actually pop the plants in and they already have the chemical names and all their schedules associated to it. You press schedule, and boom, you've got a schedule didn't have to do anything. So efficiencies yet, it's so good. And you'll find that design takes so long, you will spend so long on design. So having those little tools of efficiencies so important. And yeah, so when you're doing your planning, scheduling your pallets, that's something that's really important. Another thing that I like to do is having renders so if we build something up on SketchUp, or Rhino and then export to Photoshop and make it look quite visual. I find that's a really important tool because some people just aren't visual at all and they
Emmaline Bowman 40:00
They can't even I find it hard, you know, I'll get plans in from architects about what is this, you know, it's very hard to sort of, you know, just to put your mind into it unless you've developed it, you know what it is. But yeah, I find renders and sections and elevations and you know, we're level where you've put a little bit of a collage at the top of it. So it looks a bit more real, it's really important.
Emmaline Bowman 40:24
They're the sort of tools that I really use. Yeah.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 40:27
So which ones are the clients more comfortable with,
Emmaline Bowman 40:30
I would say, it's the renders, they love the 3d perspective images, it lets them see right into it. And I and also, we, we kind of spoke about it before, but walking through the design as well. So you know, if you, if you go through the design process, they will see a 3d render. But when you're going into the construction process, now I'll go out with Liam was one of the main guys and we got the spray paint out. And we'll start using the string lines and do like weird hand gestures. You know, all that sort of stuff, either, like people got to see, you know, in reality, and in that spatial context I'm talking about so yeah, I found that
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 41:19
I think that so walking through and then like marking up with the spray paint, that's, that's a really important step, I think, with explaining to clients, because then they start to say, oh, that part's not actually quite a very, it's not very thick, or it's not very wide.
Emmaline Bowman 41:35
That's it. And that's true. And that's another thing I've found, that happens a lot is that when you are dealing in your 2d world on your plans, you will always make them look really pretty on your plan. But when you go into reality, things have to change. It always does. A lot I've seen like, you know, my staff get get really hard on themselves, like they changed it. And I'm like, Yeah, but you've got to understand, your plans aren't the same as in real life. And you know, that that, like you said, to me, the path in this context needs to be 1.2 metres, it might only be 20 centimetres, but it looks that little bit better. And you can walk through that easier, and it looks better with the vast scale of the property. So yeah, things always change. That's why it's really important that you know, when it's executed from design plan phase to the actual construction, that you realise that there's that that changing?
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 42:29
Yeah, I think it's a good exercise, actually, for every landscape architect to spend a lot of time out on site, even with, even with a landscaper, just to understand, you know, what their thinking is when they're setting out a landscape and marking on the page. And, you know, what are they thinking in terms of the, what it looks like on the plans compared to on the site? It's really important.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 42:53
Yeah, the other thing I was thinking too, is in terms of the plants like it, it's a lot more, I guess, advanced in recent years in being able to show people what the plants will look like, I remember when I first started showing people plans, it was, it would be in SketchUp. And it would be quite sort of generic, like a generic plant. And they didn't necessarily see what it would look like. So how do you do that with the client?
Emmaline Bowman 43:16
Yeah, so when we do the render, so whether it's on SketchUp, or Rhino, we bring them into Photoshop, and then we put the plants on it, so then they can actually see, you know, where those colour profiles are. I'm, I'm unfortunately, fortunately and unfortunately, very crazy into detail. And I'm a perfectionist, so I will spend way too long on this sort of stuff. And, you know, because I really want them to be able to see it exactly how it is. And it's weird because it does end up being built and looks exactly the same. And it's kind of good for me because it's like, I don't know why it gives me like, this happiness where I'm like, Okay, I know it's gonna be okay, it's gonna look really good because yeah, I I really struggle to think that like, design doesn't go the way I want it, because I like oh, I want them to look really good. But yeah, that's that's a perfectionism element that it's a good thing and a bad thing.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 44:14
It is a reassuring workout and you're gonna be fine. But also being able to communicate that to a contractor is also really important, I guess as well. Do you ever take clients out to the nursery to show them the plants for real?
Emmaline Bowman 44:29
I used to, we used to be quite close to a nursery and could do that. To be brutally honest. Now I'm just so busy that we just I don't have a tie if I had I think being quite young, you know, business if I had a few more stuff, and yeah, had that little bit more free time. I would definitely do that. with larger projects like we have a big revenge project happening.
Emmaline Bowman 44:59
Quitefar are out I, I'm, I'm thinking of going with them to the nursery. And I think sometimes it's really important depending on what it is, but yeah, it's a, it is a time thing. That's why it's really important to have those pictures. Absolutely, exactly what I was gonna say it just means that your process has to be really streamlined, you have to be able to communicate that really well, I guess, just like for an explanation, what does Rivage mean? Oh, revegetation. So it's when you've cleared a site of its existing environmental conditions that might have been a forest, and you might have turned into farmland, and the people the property might think that, you know, it might be nicer if they planted some of the same species back. So it kind of becomes it'll never be the same, of course, but you were, you know, reestablishing the existing plant types to create a new ecology in a way. So it's happening a lot, it's Yeah, it's really cool. There's a, there's a big shift in Australia, there's a lot of revegetation happening. We're working with these wonderful clients up into langara. And they are revegetating parts of their farm. So they've got a dairy herd, and they really want to balance their use on the farm. So they're obviously using the land to milk the cows, and they're providing for us, but they want to make sure the creeks and everything have been revegetated. So they can bring the wildlife back. They want the laneways planted to create shade for the cows, but also, again, to help with the wildlife and increase the biodiversity of insects, which helps pollination and I just want to balance their output. And I think that's really, really an amazing client. Well, yeah, the client wanting to do all that. Yeah, it's really, really cool. And yeah, I love them too. Bit. So yeah, it's, there's, there's things happening. And I wish there was more of it. But I think it's sort of this thought so if you're engaging with these clients, and you know, this might take years to do but you become that driving force to show what these new principles can do in a positive and then maybe other people will follow. So that's part of the journey. Once you get more of those particular clients under your belt, they're encouraging other clients and, you know, you're able to take photos and to show other people, you know, what is what is possible. So it's great.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 47:23
Thank you for clarifying that. I realised, when I've been speaking to a lot of Australians that what we tend to do is we will shorten words a lot. And I realise are some of my clients don't actually know what that means? So it's really interesting to hear from other people, how they, how they use these words.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 47:41
My final question, and I'm so thankful for your time, you've given us so much valuable information so far. And my last question is about giving advice to somebody. So if you could give one piece of advice to someone who's trying to explain an idea or trying to explain a design, what would you tell them is important, I would say to make sure that you're not imposing it on the client, to really let go we spoke about before is that we know you want to come from a place where you're you really wanting to help them and you want them to feel comfortable, so don't ever put yourself on them. Like don't ever force someone into your idea because you think it's the right thing. And I think that would have to be the most important you know, the whole the whole design process is about you know, you're creating something for someone else. And
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 48:38
whether that you know, what you want to bring into work whether you know, you're helping them in some way you just you want to make sure that it's beneficial for them. Don't be in love it. That's great advice. I think that's super important. And I think that's really important to for you with you know, you're trying to do something good for the environment and trying to get people to understand more about the environment without imposing it on them. So you almost want them to kind of be excited about the idea. So I love what you were talking about earlier about the education and getting them excited about the fact that they have indigenous plants on their property or those sorts of things. So I think that's excellent parting wisdom. So thank you.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 49:22
Pleasure. Thanks for having me. Oh, I've had a great conversation. I think that we could talk all day I don't want to take up time.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 49:30
The other thing I was going to say is if people would like to find out more about you and your practice where is the best place to find you
Emmaline Bowman 49:40
um, I'm terrible with my Instagram but but definitely go onto my Instagram and my website as well. Like I said, we get really busy and it's something that I would love to be a little bit more onto. But yeah, go on the Instagram us.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 50:00
See a nice list of pictures and stuff there and then go on the website. So we'll put your website and your Instagram links in the show notes. And also, I know that you have done some episodes of gardening Australia, is that right?
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 50:15
Yeah. So to maybe put a link to one of those videos because I think your passion for the environment and what you do really comes through and I would love to show some of my clients or my students that passion that comes through so I'll put a link to some of those in the show notes as well be lovely. Well, thanks, em. Well, the conversation before it's been great. Thank you very much.
Emmaline Bowman 50:40
Thank you for having me. I've had a I've had a really lovely time talking to you, Tara, it's been really lovely.
Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 50:45
Thanks again for the conversation and for sharing your passion for nature and biodiversity. If you appreciate it, today's episode, be sure to share it with someone who might find it useful. Thanks again for listening and I look forward to sharing my next conversation with you very soon.
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