Search on this site

Landscape Industry Forum

Landscape Gardening Jobs

« Brett Approved Installers recognised with awards | Main | IOG turfcare advisory service launched »


And it seems to me that whenever there's a "people's vote" for a Best Garden at a show, the winner is always a very pretty, traditional garden, too. As you say, Phil, sometimes it seems that designers aren't tuned in.

Interesting. I have been a gardener for thirty years and have been designing professionally for almost five. In my personal situation, there is no divide between horticulturist and designer as I am both. I don't consider myself to be 'elite', or above anyone else and would be mortified if someone thought I gave that impression. I really don't understand the politics in this 'great divide' - to me both professions go hand in hand with each other...maybe I don't move in the 'right' circles? I think perhaps I ought not to move in the such circles anyway? Maybe I'm just odd?

My private garden is country/cottage in style even though I live in an eighties house on the edge of Cardiff city, and I have yet to be asked, or even suggest,that I design a modern contemporary space. My cottage/vintage style garden at RHS Cardiff last year won 'Best Garden', and some young people I spoke to at the show were far more interested in my design style rather than something more contemporary. I found that to be rather interesting and slightly unusual - but then I guess I shouldn't have assumed...

On the flip side...there are garden creators / inventors / designers, who are finely tuned and listen meticulously to their clients aspirations and deliver time and time again bespoke pieces around the client, for the client.....

The Telegraph article makes no sense to me whatsoever. Brookes starts off bemoaning a split between horticulturists and garden designers, but doesn't go into any sort of analysis of what causes it. Then suddenly he forgets about horticulturists entirely and uses some pretty sketchy anecdotal evidence to complain that garden designers don't design to the traditional tastes of the general public.

Then, for such an experienced and respected garden designer, he seems to completely miss the point of the Chelsea Flower Show.

He ends with a piece of PR puff about the Society of Garden Designers, while seeming to forget he'd admitted in the opening paragraph that no-one has heard of them. This is pretty disappointing journalism.

This "schism" appears wherever designers and the people who turn the designs into reality operate. Graphic designers and printers are supposed to view each other with a mutual loathing. The same goes for architects and building contractors.

I think this is a generalism, and a pretty old-fashioned one. In my career as a designer I learned pretty quickly that if you don't understand the technical process of creating what you've designed you won't get commissioned very often.

Yes, you get inexperienced or prima donna designers in every field of design, and equally you get producers who begrudge being told to create something which isn't 'easy'. But in the middle, where the vast majority of us work, there are co-operative professionals who place the interests of the client first.

Do people really think that designers in general consider themselves above other people? Do they really think that a designer who blatantly disregarded the demands of a client would continue in business? Could it, just possibly, be the case that designers do sometimes know a bit about what they are selling, and have the vision and skills to provide a client with more than they expected or could articulate for themselves? Are garden designers really a group who need to 'get the message'?
Horticulture is not design, building a wall is not design, but both are essential to realising a garden as we understand it. Considered, site-appropriate and relevant design that relates the needs of the client to something more in aesthetic terms is not essential to create an outdoor space, but a garden will invariably be better for such input, no matter who makes it. Some designers are sought out for their particular style and profile, most are happy to work away at quietly creating civilised, workable outdoor spaces for their clients. It's a market place, and there is room for everyone from high profile superstars to people turning out patio designs for landscaping companies: the discussion seems to completely ignore the fact that clients will buy exactly the service they want, from whomever they like. The implied suggestion that designers are all flouncing prima-donnas inflicting outrageous design on a witless public (which here means, of course, in customary usage, people who are not designers) is frankly insulting to both designers as a body and all their potential clients.
If 'traditional' design is the most popular at Chelsea and elsewhere it is not because designers aren't 'tuned in', it's because new directions in design take decades to become established - by the time a particular idiom in design is widely accepted the people who devised and championed it have long since moved on to something else. The fact that 'traditional' designs win out over others reflects an innate conservatism in this country regarding all design - those people pushing the boundaries in full public view should be applauded, as should the committed and visionary clients who are helping to widen exposure to new directions in one of the most ancient of arts. Get the message?

The comments to this entry are closed.