The more emphasis on professional standards, or “skills” in the lingo, is also a factor. Marcus reveals that the SGD has, for the first time, entered into serious discussions with the Landscape Institute (the professional body for landscape architects) on how they could collaborate in terms of training and accreditation. “We do things they don’t, like plants! She said jokingly, “and they do things we don’t do, like town planning law.”
For this year’s awards, the independent jury chairman was Richard Sneesby, a highly regarded design professor who teaches at the Eden Project and runs a practice in Cornwall. “The most impressive entry for me this year in kilometers was primary school [Sedlescombe Primary School Sensory Garden in East Sussex, designed by Kristina Clode]. It’s nice. And if you want a Greta Thunberg garden, this is it. No watering is required and virtually no maintenance, and it will look great all year round. The only problem is that everything is done with the help of volunteers and donations. Without a designer in charge, you will end up with just a collection of “stuff” – like a contribution sale and garden purchase. “
Nonetheless, Sneesby believes it should serve as an inspiration for schools around the world: “This design costs £ 23 per square meter. To put this in perspective, Sneesby – who describes the basis of his profession as “spare wealth in the middle-class economy” – estimates that the typical cost of an “elegant” urban garden by a well-known designer is rather £ 300- £ 400 per m², which would work out between £ 100,000 and £ 150,000 for a plot of 80 feet by 25 feet. “You wouldn’t get much for less than £ 60,000,” he suggests – “unless you’re doing that ‘throw in a seed pack’ kind of gardening.”
That kind of money puts most of us out of the league of considering a professionally designed garden – but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy-to-win business, either. money. Each year, garden design schools produce hundreds of graduates, only a handful of whom lead a successful business practice. “Understanding the financial side – including what you can do within the budget – is as important as what it looks like,” according to Sneesby. “If I was critical, it can’t be taught as well. What we get are lessons [that are] all about designing and planting, and only at the end of it you get a module on working with contractors and budgets etc. – when it is by far the most important. “
Lynne Marcus agrees. When asked what advice she would give to anyone looking to get started in garden design, her response is concise: “Learn to run a business.”
Beginnings in electrifying design
An award can herald the start of an impressive career, but great work will also generate its own publicity, as these examples show:
André Le Nôtre Vaux-le-Vicomte
The great French Baroque designer was commissioned by Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV’s finance minister, to create spectacular gardens for his new chateau at Vaux-le-Vicomte (generally considered his greatest work). At the end of 1661, Fouquet organized a big country party with fireworks. It was a mistake. The king, who attended, was indignant at his magnificence and had Fouquet stripped of his functions and kept him under house arrest for the rest of his life. Louis then commissioned Le Nôtre to fashion Versailles on an even larger scale.
Martha Schwartz Bagel Garden, Boston
The American conceptual landscape designer burst onto the scene in 1979 with this artwork, made while her husband was away, in the front yard of her home, a “row house” in Boston, Massachusetts. Drawing inspiration from Baroque flower garden traditions, Schwartz used yacht polish to convert bagels into garden ornaments, arranged on a base pattern of purple aquarium gravel. The iconoclastic design made the cover of US Landscape Architecture magazine and caused quite a stir (the publisher was sacked). But he established Schwartz as the new enfant terrible of the garden world.
Piet Oudolf Bury Court, Hampshire
The Dutch designer is best known for championing the naturalistic style of plantation design known as New Perennials. In 1996 he had already made an order in the United Kingdom (Pensthorpe, Norfolk) but Bury Court was his first design for a home garden. And it caused quite a stir, introducing British gardeners to a way of thinking about plants that has dramatically changed the look of our gardens in recent decades. It was commissioned by John Coke, who then ran a nursery with Marina Christopher, and found in Oudolf another soul mate.
The following colleges offer courses that have been granted “educator status” by the Society of Garden Designers. For more information, visit sgd.org.uk: