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The Story behind UKARIA's garden

Ulrike Klein has never lived without a garden. Growing up in the German countryside, she was exposed to the healing powers of herbs from an early age. Her parents grew all of their own vegetables to feed and nourish the family – a tradition she has passed on to her own children.

‘It’s what home means for me,’ she says, reflecting on the role of gardens in her life. ‘When I come back from travels, the first thing I do is put my hands into the soil. I love gardening – for me it’s a way to play, and to experiment. Growing flowers has always been an act of creativity, an expression of the joy of life. Part of the intention and purpose behind Jurlique was to reconnect people with nature, because we are part of it. With all the constant change in the world, we are being alienated from that essential life force, which takes us away from ourselves. For me, being in a garden is like a homecoming each and every time.’

‘My own garden at home is constantly changing with the seasons, reminding me of the impermanence of life,’ she continues. In much the same way that a garden is never the same twice, a piece of music is illuminated in new and unpredictable ways as it interacts with the environment in which it is heard. This connection between music and nature was the inspiration behind the Jurlique Herb Farm concert series, so it was inevitable that a garden would also play an integral role in Ulrike’s vision for the UKARIA Cultural Centre.

Her brief to architect Anton Johnson was simple: every aspect of the Centre had to be designed with the sensory experience of the visitor in mind. UKARIA’s gardens were to become participants in the creation of art, providing an ever-changing canvas upon which musicians would paint masterpieces in sound.

Visual artist Winnie Pelz came up with a conceptual design that saw parking bays nestled into the edges of the garden, with multiple entry points providing access to different areas. Serpentine paths twist and turn their way up the slope towards the Cultural Centre, passing through native flora, traditional roses, lavender and other aromatic flowers and herbs. Large sculptures, a dry-stone labyrinth, shady trees and a water feature complement the idyllic setting. Adelaide Innovative Landscaping completed all the hard landscaping, and Dean Butcher orchestrated an initial planting layout in time for the official opening of the Cultural Centre in August 2015.

Four years later, the garden had grown exponentially, but a more detailed plan was needed to ensure it continued to thrive into the future. In 2019 Steve Hailstone was engaged to come up with a comprehensive strategy for rejuvenating some of the areas that had not yet reached their full potential. He broke the garden up into various points of contemplation, articulated their function within the overall UKARIA experience, and suggested ways in which they could be improved.

Adam Hancock in the garden
Andrew Plummer in the Garden
Friends of the Garden 1
Friends of the Garden 2

Steve’s ideas are today brought to life by our Gardener, Adam Hancock who is joined weekly by Andrew and Jacob; together they take great care in creating this space. They are joined every second Tuesday of the month, from February to November by a group of passionate volunteers, who generously lend their hands and time.

Everyone who sets foot on the grounds cannot but be swept up by the joy that the flowers, plants, water, sculptures, birds, frogs and air provide. The artists who play in the concert hall and look out over the spectacle of nature are inspired anew.