Johanna MacMinn

Landscape Architect

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, 1989

People often think that design can be quite shallow and just about the aesthetic, but it’s not. It goes much deeper.

One looks like a box of jewels. Another is a sea of purple. A third textured, dappled in sunlight, rich in hues of greens and dark red.

These are the words that describe the gardens that Johanna MacMinn, a Brisbane based landscape architect has designed for her clients and each one tells a story.

“People who are not in creative industries often believe design to be all about the aesthetic, but it’s not. It goes much deeper and on so many different levels,” says Johanna. “It’s not just about putting pretty plants in a place. It’s about why those plants need to be there and what they mean.”

Johanna graduated from King’s in 1989 with a degree in political science. She worked as a flight attendant, before moving to Australia with her husband in 1995. She was living in Brisbane when her “light bulb moment” happened. She read a newspaper article about landscape design. With her degree from King’s in hand she was accepted into a post-graduate program in landscape architecture at the Queensland University of Technology.

She now owns My Verandah, a boutique landscape architecture studio where she specializes in residential garden design. She has clients in Australia, Canada, the US and most recently Portugal.

The seeds for her dramatic shift in geography and career path she says were planted at King’s.

“I think the best thing I ever did was take the Foundation Year Program (FYP). For somebody who wasn’t really sure what direction she was going it was a wonderful way to explore what I was actually interested in.”

And landscape architecture has it all.

“It’s art, it’s science, it’s even a bit of philosophy and sociology. It fits.”

Johanna spends a lot of time with her clients, talking and asking questions. She finds out about them and how they live in order to design a garden that tells part of their story. She uses the phrase “intellectualizing the landscape.”

“It’s an actual intellectual conversation that happens with and around people and how they use (outdoor) space.”

But it is also a highly creative process. She uses her heart and her intuition as well as her intellect in her designs. And she thanks her time at King’s for giving her the ability to work like that. “My time at King’s had a profound effect on me.” she says. “It opened my eyes to a new way of thinking.”

Even though she now lives on the other side of the world from King’s Johanna still keeps in touch with former classmates. She even managed to attend the Alumni Annual Dinner in Halifax in 2015 and was able to catch up with old friends and reminisce about the time they spent together at King’s.

“When I went to King’s I didn’t only receive a well rounded education I also found I became a part of a strong community of people who looked out for each other. It felt very safe.”

Posted: Apr. 2016

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