Extreme gardening with Lloyd Godman!

Lloyd Godman
Talking Heads

The term "extreme gardening" was first coined by Melbourne newspaper The Age in 2015 after Lloyd Godman installed Tillandsias - sometimes known as air plants - on top of Melbourne's Eureka Tower, almost 300 metres above street level.

A few years later, Lloyd, whose work combines photography and gardening with a dash of performance art, gave extreme gardening another nudge, this time down at sea level.

Many years ago I began doing interactive installations of plants in galleries and I began studying suitable plants. More recently, people are trying to integrate plants into architecture - growing vertical gardens and such - so we're looking to do that in a fully sustainable way, because, unfortunately, a lot of vertical gardens aren't sustainable. Maintenance can run into millions of dollars a year.

So what we've been doing is working with plants called 'air plants', which take everything in through the leaf. They don't need water and soil and all that at the root, and they can withstand incredibly hot, dry conditions.

The correct name is tillandsia, they live up in the mountains in South America but they can grow right down to the coast. Biologically, air plants do some interesting things because they don't need soil and they actually grow at night, they don't grow during the day. That's why they can withstand hot, dry temperatures.

Over the last few years we've been testing them in extreme locations to see if can survive. However, it was their resilience to salt that was of particular interest to me.

Tillandsia strapped to his head like a Roman Centurion's helmet, Lloyd takes gardening to the extreme

I took my air matt and my air plant down to Cape Patterson, attached the plant to my helmet and paddled out. There was a guy out there that came up to me and he asked, "Is that some kind of device to keep the seagulls off your head?"

A plant which is rooted, you couldn't take it for a surf. Most plants you couldn't take for a surf. Then again, if you're a scientist, you're not going to do an experiment like that, however if you're a surfer, you might as well stretch the boundaries, have a bit of fun with it.

After I took the air plant for a surf, some of the outside leaves died back a bit, so I'd imagine they couldn't live in saltwater full time, but they can withstand lots of salt. In fact, that plant flowered almost a year later.

Besides vertical gardens there are lots of uses for air plants, they can provide shade on the western side of houses, and instead of using plastic shade cloths, which deteriorate over time putting microfibres into waterways, you can wire airplants into place. Just walk way and leave it. There are over 700 species with probbaly half a dozen species that can really withstand those super hot, dry, conditions.

One of Lloyd's temporary art installations with suspended air plants - in the background is Eureka Tower

I rode Wavegarden wavepool recently and I noticed the structure that covers the engine could be covered with a design of plants. The skirt that runs up is made of a synthetic microfibre material, and in two months it's already starting to deteriorate. Those microfibres are breaking off and getting in the water. The column they've got is perforated - it's perfect! You could do something really interesting with that.

I've had a couple of surfs with a mat at the wavepool. I'm easily the oldest guy, usually by about twenty years. The last time I went there, this Alpha Male of the pack stepped forward and he said, "OK guys, this is an elder, we follow him out, he gets the first wave."

I thought that was pretty cool. And the mat went great there.

I've been riding the mat for nearly fifty years. My surfing background, I surfed in New Zealand for years and years, and then in '73 I went to Hawaii with a guy called called Chris Brock. Chris and I lived in a treehouse in what was called Taylor Camp on Kauai. I'd often surf with Billy Hamilton. Billy asked me a couple of times: "Can you babysit the kids?" And one of those kids, of course, turned out to be Laird Hamilton.

But when I was there I injured my back on a reef, and it became pretty difficult standing up. That's when I took up mat riding seriously.

Read more about Lloyd's work here


Lottolonglong's picture
Lottolonglong's picture
Lottolonglong Tuesday, 10 Mar 2020 at 7:56pm


Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com Tuesday, 10 Mar 2020 at 10:20pm

Green up the world

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 7:13am

It just occurred to me that if you want to take a plant surfing it probably makes more sense to find some seaweed.

helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 8:04am

Best thing I've read all week.
Don't worry Lloyd, you're not potty, the rest of the world is.

warddy's picture
warddy's picture
warddy Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 8:36am

Ha Ha Classic...
Wonder if they’ll ever make a wave pool with live coral and fish now that would be cool ...

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 6:47pm

warddy knows Goldie pioneered several largest fish habitats.

1992 Marriott Hotel Waterfalls + Reef + grottos + Lagoons
Waterfalls are large & constantly flow as wave action
1.6ML/ 600,000 ML Saltwater chemical free Oasis-
400 tropical & local Fish...
Forage or same species may also survive a turbulent Wave Pool Environ,
Moon Wrasse, Blue/Dominio Damsel,Surgeon, Trigger, Sgnt Major fish

2004 SeaWorld Shark Bay / Reef Lagoon has 250 fish species.
5.4 ML Shark Bay Mankind's largest Inter-tidal Lagoon

Mankind's greatest estuary is also on Goldie
Burleigh Waters - Varsity Lakes > (Tidal Gates)

(s20) > SEQ 2032 Olympic White Water Course > Rescue Training > River Repairs.
s20 Waves rejuvenate habitat to include wildlife & community at heart of projects.
Resulting in communities & critters freely surfing their Towns back to health.

The River Wave Concept : Integrating River Ecosystem Models.
"How to Surf your river habitat back to Health"
Surf for the Dole Green Army..
100 mile long queue stretches back to the Beach Hang.

Lloyd's Chelsea Garden Wave Pool?
Lloyd @ Wavegarden is interesting.
Wave Skirt is deteriorating into the pool? Wow!

Tick's picture
Tick's picture
Tick Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 7:13pm

TBB. Latest on GC wave pool? Article online in Courier Mail. Don't have a subscription.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 7:38pm

"Now, Gold Coast-based wave pool creator Surf Lakes says it has signed an agreement with a mystery group to build a park on the Glitter Strip, and construction could start next year."

Tick's picture
Tick's picture
Tick Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 7:53pm

Thanks. Thought they may have given us the location.

lloydgodman's picture
lloydgodman's picture
lloydgodman Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 7:16pm

Most micro fibers end up in water ways - many board shorts and rashies, the linings of wet suits are manufactured from synthetic micro fibers and over time can break free. Clothes like hoodies etc. that are made of micro fibers break off in the wash cycle and end up in the water ways - and there are millions of wash cycles every day in Australia alone. The synthetic felt used for many vertical gardens are created from synthetic micro fibers also break down with UV and when the reticulants are purged go into the water ways. When the fibers in water ways are examined closely there are both synthetic fibers and also natural organic fibers like wool, cotton and even hemp. So while the wave skirt at Urbansurf is wearing it needs to be seen in the wider context. Perhaps over time the skirt could be replaced with an effective hemp fiber skirt.

philosurphizingkerching's picture
philosurphizingkerching's picture
philosurphizing... Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 9:19am

A solution to the wavepool evaporation problem.
Living water absorbing sculptures suspended by cables over the wave pool.
Providing shade.
Also less need for sunscreen, which clogs up the filters.
Win Win Win

Definitely an ingredient for the ultimate wavepool.

lloydgodman's picture
lloydgodman's picture
lloydgodman Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 6:07pm

Thanks - it would work in this respect - if you want more info check this PDF which I am working on - http://www.lloydgodman.net/Publications/Alpha_space_small.pdf cheers Lloyd