Man Candy: Matt Leacy

Matt Leacy is a well-known face in the horticulture and landscape design world. He’s the co-founder and director of Sydney-based Landart Landscapes, a columnist for Australian House & Garden and Home magazines, has appeared on our TV screens and currently he’s president of the LNA Master Landscapers Association. It’s a lot to juggle for anyone, but for Matt it’s entirely manageable simply because he loves what he does. When we asked Matt what it means to be a man, he answered: “Being there for those around you, for friends and family, being dependable.” Great! We’re pleased to share a bunch of insights from this talented landscape designer.

Please tell us about about yourself and what you do.
For me it is all about where the land meets life. My purpose is to change people’s lifestyles, to encourage the belief that the backyard is not something that sits outside the house. That it is more than that, it is a part of the house, an extension of the home. It’s an additional lounge space, a kitchen or gym but with the healing qualities of the earth and the greenery surrounding you. My role is a designer but to me, that means someone who solves problems with an aesthetic intent.

What does it mean to you to be a man?
Since having three beautiful kids my view on what a man should be has changed considerably. It is now all about being there for those around you, for friends and family…

It’s about being dependable.

What has been your most significant personal achievement?
Creating a business from nothing that produces work that I am proud of, and that now feeds many families, is somewhat of an achievement. However, for me it’s the little things that happen every day, that lead to significant achievements, which are the things I value most. I have created a place where my kids feel safe and free to be themselves. This is something I am grateful for everyday and have worked hard to build.

What’s your worst habit?
Never stopping to appreciate business achievements or milestones, I always seem to look at how we can improve it or do it better next time.

What do you regard as man’s worst habit?
Rarely being content…

The more man has the more man thinks he needs.

Which female in history or the present day do you admire and why?
My sister. For the last 24 years, since the age of 18 she has been trapped in a body, unable to talk or walk. There is no woman I have met or known with her strength and resilience. She has been through a great deal. My auntie is also the most independent, intelligent woman I have known. She was the first to point out to me some basics in designing a garden when I was a teenager. I am lucky to have been surrounded by such amazing women.

Image by Jason Busch
Image by Jason Busch

If you were a plant, what would you be, and why?
Good question. Maybe a big old oak tree where kids could race to the top or build a cubby. Although a pandanus sitting on a headland over the ocean watching the Australian coast would be pretty cool too.

Is it really a man’s world?
Yes, because we get to love women.

What is one piece of wisdom (a saying, a philosophy for life, etc.) that you learnt from your dad/grandfather?
My Dad always said: ‘Do whatever it is you choose to do with full commitment… If you go in with hesitation you will come out second best.’ Together with: ‘Confront your bullies when they are alone and watch their bravado disappear.’

What is one characteristic or trait that you inherited from your mum/grandmother?
My Mum is very persistent. I am told I am similar. My Latvian grandmother, since I can remember, has always said: ‘A whiskey a day keeps you healthy’. I had my doubts about this but she is turning 103-years-old this year. Luckily I have already taken on her advice.

If you had to make a garden with 3 plants, what would they be and why have you chosen each of them?
A deciduous tree that bears fruit – to provide shade in the summer and to allow the sun’s warmth through in the winter whilst providing fruit for food. A hedge to provide shelter from the wind, privacy and the sense of protection. A flowering groundcover to create colour, keep the weeds away, shade the soil and cool the earth.

What do you love most about women?
I believe that women are stronger than men in so many ways. When I think of strength, more woman in my life come to mind first.

I have seen my wife deal with the most extraordinary things, that require a strength and resilience that most men don’t have.

Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

What would you be doing in an alternate life or career?
I like the idea of playing a solo sport professionally, having only yourself to rely on (not that I am any good).

What’s one lesson you’ve learnt from the plant kingdom?
Many years ago I was staring out the window on the 6th floor of the old Royal North Shore Hospital. A massive building built completely out of brick. Growing out of one of the mortar joints was a small casuarina tree. It was shady, there was no soil, no water, no real nutritional value anywhere near it and yet this plant was able to seed and start a life. Plants are like people they are always looking to grow and burst out of confinement.

Matt Leacy is the co-founder and director of Landart Landscapes in Sydney. For more of his work you can visit the Landart Landscapes’ website and follow along on Instagram and Facebook.

Image by Jason Busch