Interview Series: Hugh Main from Spirit Level
Spirit Level is a boutique Sydney landscape design firm offering a complete service from garden design to garden construction and ongoing garden maintenance. Their team includes leading landscape architects, designers, artists, stonemasons, carpenters and horticulturalists.
Spirit Level creates gardens that have a sense of belonging both to the natural environment and to the people who will spend time within them. We have a relaxed chat with Hugh Main, Director, who co-founded Spirit Level over a decade ago.
He has grown his vision to create, build and care for stunning gardens that are in touch with their natural settings and designed to flourish with every extra year.
What are one to three books/audiobooks/podcasts that have greatly influenced your life?
- The Education of a Gardener, Russell Page - The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy - Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe
What's the first thing you do when you wake up?
Look out onto the horizon, whether that's in the city or the country, and work out how the day is likely to unfold. Whether it's sunny or rainy, it’s always pretty good for the garden. I know I'm going to be outside for a fair bit of the day, so I like to feel ready for whatever sort of day unfolds.
All images featured are from Spirit Level Design's Greenwich project.
When was the last time you surprised yourself?
I guess that was when I started to ride my horse without a bridle. That was pretty surprising.
Best gardening or styling tip?
Look around you. The answer is always there in front of you. Nature always gets it right.
If you could jump on a plane with anyone tomorrow, where would you go and who would it be with?
I'm not a plane boy anymore, I prefer land travel. I would jump in my Land Rover, with my dog Bear by my side and a horse or two in the float behind me. We'd be heading for a horse show, preferably one that lasted a few days.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
When I walked into the photographic exhibition at the State Library called Planting Dreams: Grand Garden Designs, which featured the best contemporary gardens in NSW curated by Howard Tanner. A garden we designed in Kangaroo Valley called The Amoeba Garden was the garden that was straight in front of you as you walked into the exhibition. It was also on the cover of the exhibition guide.
What and where was the last great meal you ate?
I'm surrounded by some great cooks, who enjoy cooking with me at the farm. Roast lamb (preferably homegrown by Dad), roast vegies, steamed greens, homemade gravy and Yorkshire pudding. Followed by homegrown rhubarb, stewed and poured over dense chocolate cake. That is better than a fancy restaurant in my books!
Sydney’s best kept secret?
Maroubra Beach Rock Pool - at dusk
All images remain copyright to Spirit Level Designs and are from their Greenwich project. Photos were taken by Jason Busch. Architecture by Corben Architecture.