A tale of two gardens

If you can't make it out to the Show in person, you can check out videos of the completed gardens below

The autumn leaves are falling and Easter eggs are dominating retail displays everywhere. This can mean only one thing – Sydney's Royal Easter Show is back in town. And with it, the TAFE NSW Landscaping Challenge!

The theme for 2015 is ‘Beauty Down Under', a perfect opportunity to showcase some of our beautiful native flora in the designs. Two TAFE NSW Institutes are taking up the Challenge this year . Students and teachers from TAFE Illawarra and Western Sydney Institute (WSI) are drawing on their respective landscaping skills and ingenuity for the ultimate prize – the opportunity to give a $10,000 landscaping makeover for a St Vincent de Paul Society facility in the winning team's local area.

The winner is decided by popular vote – either by passers-by at the Show or via likes on the TAFE NSW Facebook page videos below.

So to help you with your decision, here's a brief run down on the two garden designs , which were chosen from an open competition among design students from across the entire TAFE NSW network.

TAFE Illawarra

The design shows the transition of the natural landscape from the sea to the rainforest. We start at the ‘beach' end of the display, which has varieties of vegetation like banksia, eucalyptus, myoporum and baeckea – some of the vegetation you see around sand dunes and coastal areas.

This leads us into the ‘rainforest', which is lusher and denser and has more tropical plants like native ginger, waterhousias, tree ferns and tristanopsis.

Sitting between these two different landscapes is a pergola with running water surrounding it. "I wanted the design to suit almost any kind of residential situation," says designer Peta Frullani, a 2 nd year Landscape Design student at Richmond Campus (WSI).

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Western Sydney Institute (WSI)

Western Sydney's entry is a habitat garden, designed by Richmond Landscape Design graduate, Kirsten Abrahall. The space is about connecting people with Australia's unique natural environment, while simultaneously reminding us of how fragile it is.

The main feature of Kirsten's design is a large sandy footprint with five tree stumps representing the toes. This acts as a symbol of our impact on the natural environment and the need to reflect on how we can co-exist with nature in a more sustainable way. The footprint is a reminder that we as a species need to reduce our impact on the planet by "treading more lightly".

The habitat garden also features an insect hotel sculpture, which provides shelter over winter for insects, and a reflective pool in the dry river bed, which creates another view of the environment with its reflection.

If you can't make it out to the Show in person, you can check out images of the completed gardens on the TAFE NSW Facebook page, and cast your vote by liking your preferred entry. Voting closes at midday on Thursday 2 April.

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