Landscape champions paving their own path

LANDSCAPE CHAMPIONS: Alexander Halls and Dougal King in Melbourne. Photo: Michael Blasch.
LANDSCAPE CHAMPIONS: Alexander Halls and Dougal King in Melbourne. Photo: Michael Blasch.

A Queanbeyan landscape designer is preparing to take his pick and shovel to the world stage after conquering all competition in Australia.

Alexander Halls, 22 of Queanbeyan East, won gold at the regional Worldskills competition before being paired up with Dougal King of Canberra for the national event.

The two, both in their fourth year of their apprenticeships, won gold in the landscape construction category in Melbourne earlier this year.

The victory qualified the two for the Australian Skillaroos team, and they will take on the world at the Worldskills International in Abu Dhabi in October.

At the national competition the two had 18 hours to build their garden over three days.

"We had to build ponds, we did a bit of paving, rock walls, planting and lighting,” Mr Halls said.

"When we get to the international competition we'll have four extra hours, so 24 hours all up, to build a landscape double the size of what we built in Melbourne.”

In previous Worldskills Internationals, competitors were given plans three months before the event to practice, but this year the rules have changed.

"This year they have totally turned it on its head and have decided to not let us see any plans at all for the garden we'll be building and we'll have eight hours to go over the plans the day before we build it,” Mr Halls said.

"So it adds another level of difficulty."

Mr Halls said the competition focuses more on construction than creativity.

The practicality of plant selection is judged closely, and they will get marked down if they mix sun-loving plants with shade-loving plants.

The pair will use the world famous Floriade in Canberra to construct a garden under competition conditions before they embark on the Abu Dhabi project.

"We'll build it while [Floriade] is on, so there will be lots of people around us just to add some kind of match pressure, which will simulate what it will be like overseas,” he said.

"Having the public there watching us will add that bit of stress and it will teach us to focus a bit more.”

Both Mr King and Mr Halls were students at the Canberra Institute of Technology.