The Dirt: Brendan Moar

Brendan Moar is a lovely character. We had a two-cup-of-tea kind of conversation, rambling about all sorts of things plant and design related. I haven’t told him this yet but following our chat I came up with the great idea to stage a nude compost heap wrestling match between Brendan & Jamie Durie. Now that would be theatrical!

But, first things first, lets talk about Brendan. Plant hunters don’t come much more handsome than Brendan Moar. He’s one of those blokes everyone loves. Grandma Betty who collects orchids gets a little bit too excited when she sees him on TV, as does Brad the plumber. Brendan is the everyman of the gardening world.

Like many gardeners, Brendan got hooked on plants before he realised it. Not inclined to spend much time at his desk studying for his final year of high school, he ended up ‘rummaging around’ his family garden. Before he knew it he was at the local nursery buying  ‘unsophisticated plants like polyanthus and azaleas’ and putting them in the garden to see what happened. This was just the beginning.

Upon finishing school Brendan moved to Sydney from Armidale in northern NSW to work in the photography department at Sydney University. After a few years he realised he wanted to study, and landscape architecture, with its combination of creativity and plants drew him in.

So, photography and landscape architecture. A nice combo, huh? But after a few years working as a landscape architect and performing in amateur theatre productions, Brendan decided to try his hand at acting. After a few years kicking about the acting world, a friend of his mentioned that Lifestyle Channel were looking for a landscape architect to host a new television show.

They jumped on Brendan. Not literally, of course. But with his good looks, planty background and acting credentials, he was the complete package.

Suddenly again, I was back into landscape architecture. I didn’t expect it. It was kind of terrifying. When you are on TV talking about a subject like design, you are an expert and you have to be smart about what you are saying.

Since 2008, Moar has hosted a range of television shows on Foxtel and free to air networks such as Dryspell Gardening, The Renovators, and most recently, Coast. His television career seems a rather perfect fit for a man with gardening in his blood and show biz in his heart.

Like many creatives, Moar’s gardens reflect him as a person. They certainly have a sense of drama and show biz, but they also have a depth and a connection to place, tempering the bling. He says,

Sense of place is the most important thing in my gardens. Stephen Crafti, the architecture journalist, made me understand what it really meant. A garden needs to celebrate where it is, no matter the location. Nothing happens in isolation, it’s all connected.

But back to theatre. Moar says that the way he creates gardens is regularly linked to theatre. He always has the viewer in mind.

From wherever you are in the garden I want to know whether you can see into the wings, whether you can see the stage. It’s about creating a word that is unto itself, which is what both gardening and theatre is about.

There is an element of the showman about Brendan. It is tempered, however, by a groundedness, and a design sensibility very much centred around place and emotion. The spaces he creates sing. Rather loudly in fact; with a layering of not-always-subtle harmonies, but always in tune.

So, who wants a ticket to the Jamie Durie X Brendan Moar compost pile wrestling match?