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Symposium 2022 - Speakers & Chairs

Chairs for the Symposium 2022

Arit Anderson 

Arit Anderson is a garden designer, writer and presenter on BBC Two's Gardeners' World. She spent 25 years working in the dynamic industries of retail fashion and creative events. She managed teams that delivered collections and events across the globe. She balanced this fast-paced career with interests in well-being, working as a therapist and teaching holistic therapies, which led her to travel extensively to the USA. It was the joy of having her own garden that enabled Arit to diversify her creative experiences. She found that the visual nature of fashion and the healing properties of her therapies could beautifully meld in the garden.  Playing with a new palette of colour and materials in her garden, drove her to explore the unique relationships between her love of plants, people and place. After just one season, Arit knew she wanted horticulture to become her work as well as her pleasure. She studied gardening at Capel Manor College and whilst there had success at RHS Chelsea 2013 winning the Fresh Talent category for a student design collaboration with two other students. After attaining a diploma in garden design, she won a Gold Medal for her own design at RHS Hampton Court in 2016 in the conceptual category.  In her designs for both private and commercial clients her ethos includes simplicity and environmental sensitivity – affecting her choice of products and plants at source, with regard to their future setting. Working as presenter for Gardeners’  World and writing for national publications has enabled Arit to publicise issues about the future of gardening in an ever-changing climate, and promote solutions to the wider public. 

Andrew Duff MSGD

‘Having spent my childhood growing up in the English countryside, I studied garden design and writing in London which seemed a natural progression to my love of everything creative.’  After graduation Andrew cut his teeth with The White Dutton Partnership before joining the late John Brookes as his Associate Designer. ‘Brookes taught me how to look; he had a great skill for reading a space and listening to the client.  I use this to learn from the local vernacular treating each garden as if it is my first design.’  In addition to running his practice, Andrew is Managing Director of the world renowned Inchbald School of Design and Vice Chairman of The Society of Garden Designers.  ‘I am passionate about teaching, in particular the communication of the design process.  Nothing pleases me more than seeing a student master a complex design to the delight of their client.’  Andrew enjoys designing a wide spectrum of gardens, be it a small city space or a large sprawling country estate.  As an internationally recognised garden designer, Andrew has lectured and taught in Russia, Chile, Argentina, South Korea and Japan. ‘Having designed gardens for over 25 years I have been lucky enough to work close to home but also internationally.  More recently the studio has completed designs in Surrey and India. It is this versatility of the differing vernaculars that I find incredibly exciting.’ 

Headline Speakers

Dan Pearson   OBE | FSGD | Hon FRIBA | RDI

Dan Pearson is a British landscape designer, horticulturalist, writer and gardener. His work is characterised by an innate sensitivity to place, an intuitive and light-handed approach to design, bold and painterly naturalistic plantings and deep-rooted horticultural knowledge. Dan trained in horticulture at RHS Gardens’ Wisley, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He was awarded an OBE in 2022 for services to horticulture. He is a Fellow of the SGD, an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Hon FRIBA) and a Royal Designer for Industry (RDI). Since 2014 he has been a Garden Advisor to the National Trust at Sissinghurst Castle.  Dan lectures and broadcasts regularly and has written a number of books including Spirit: Garden Inspiration and Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City. His most recent book, Tokachi Millennium Forest: Pioneering a New Way of Gardening with nature, was published in 2020. He is a Contributing Editor to Gardens Illustrated magazine. For over 20 years he wrote a weekly newspaper gardening column, most recently for The Observer. He now writes his own weekly blog, Dig Delve.

Bernard Trainor

Bernard arrived in Northern California in 1995 and soon after fell in love with this land. He is the founding principal and creative director of Ground Studio. Drawing on thirty-five years of passionate commitment to the study and practice of landscape design, he is involved with his collaborative studio team on every landscape project from conception to completion. Throughout the years, he has completed four academic programs, practiced professionally in three countries, and continues to lecture extensively on the subject of Landscape Design throughout the world. His award-winning projects range from small gardens to extensive rural properties, and have been featured in a wide range of books and publications throughout the world including the New York Times, Vogue Living, Garden Design, and two monographs solely devoted to the studio’s work published by Princeton Architectural Press. Bernard was raised on the Mornington Peninsula along Australia’s rugged Southeastern Coast, not far from the city of Melbourne. It was here that he developed a lasting awareness and appreciation of the native landscape that led to horticultural and design studies. Following an apprenticeship, he was awarded a scholarship that allowed him to move to England and study under the famed plantswoman and garden designer Beth Chatto. Her regionally appropriate planting designs further developed Bernard’s design philosophy and subsequently the direction of his landscape designs that followed. Her influence was significant. In the years that followed, Bernard then completed a Diploma of Landscape Design while studying at the Chelsea Physic Garden. In practice, the geographical diversity of his educational and work experiences cultivated a deep appreciation for California’s unique regional qualities and culture. “Whilst traveling I soon discovered my favorite art, architecture and landscapes are deeply connected to the place from which they have ‘grown”. This simple observation and a keen awareness of the regional context inform every design project

Charlie Harpur

Charlie Harpur is a Kew-trained plantsman and designer. Having worked for the landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith for a number of years, he is now Head Gardener at the Knepp Castle Estate.



Dr Phil Askew

Dr Phil Askew is Director of Landscape & Placemaking at Peabody leading on Thamesmead, London’s New Town and one of London’s largest regeneration and development projects.  He has a background in Horticulture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design and leading on major regeneration and green infrastructure projects.  Prior to his current role he led the design and delivery of the London 2012 Olympic Park at the Olympic Delivery Authority and its transformation into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the UKs largest new urban park in over a century. With Peabody he is leading a process to ensure the unique landscape assets of Thamesmead are integrated into the regeneration process and create the greatest opportunities for the current and future population through landscape led green infrastructure.


Rachel Bailey MSGD

Rachel runs an award-winning design practice with a team of three in Scotland. Our practice creates plant-filled gardens, which are good for people and wildlife, and that aim to have a low environmental impact. She is a registered member of the Society of Garden Designers (MSGD), a design member of the Association of Professional Landscapers (MAPL), and the sustainability officer for the SGD as well as works with the APL council on sustainability matters. Rachel trained in garden design at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh, and has a passion for plants and our natural environment. She also holds degrees in biology and a diploma in Permaculture giving her a good understanding of sustainability and the environment. Working with professional landscapers, crafts-people and local plant nurseries, the practice has created gardens from small courtyards to large landscapes. We love to help our clients get the most out of their garden whilst having a positive effect on the environment. 

Marian Boswall MSGD 







Panel Speakers

Noel Kingsbury

Noel Kingsbury is internationally known as an innovator, writer and teacher in the fields of gardening and planting design. His 'New Perennial Garden' of 1994 helped launch the current wave of interest in naturalistic planting design. He followed up with a research doctorate in 2007 with the Landscape Department at Sheffield University. 

Noel has published around 25 books including four with Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. A great interest in innovative ways of presenting information is central to his work – hence his collaboration with Annie Guilfoyle in creating as a global education portal.



Tom Massey MSGD

Tom Massey designs award winning gardens for private and commercial clients, as well as for festivals and shows in the UK and overseas. He has garnered a reputation for his bold, daring and thought-provoking show gardens and always considers the environment, location and context of the site in his private and commercial work; striving to work with nature to produce sustainable, ecological and alluring gardens that support local wildlife and promote biodiversity. Tom’s recent accolades include a gold medal and BBC People’s Choice Award for the Yeo Valley Organic Garden at the first ever September RHS Chelsea Flower Show.



Catherine Heatherington FSGD

Dr. Catherine Heatherington is a landscape designer and consultant based in the UK and is a Fellow of the Society of Garden Designers. She has built a reputation over the last 25 years for creating innovative and inspiring gardens that are contemporary in their essence and yet retain an understanding and appreciation of traditional designs and techniques. She is a co-founder of DesignWild Associates, a design practice that integrates design with ecology to create exciting gardens that encourage wildlife into even the smallest of urban spaces.

Catherine was awarded her PhD (Landscape) from the University of Sheffield. Her research focuses on people’s responses to landscape change and continuity in derelict and developed brownfield sites with particular emphasis on the implications for practice. She is the author of Revealing change in cultural landscapes: Material, spatial and ecological considerations (2020), Reimagining industrial sites: Changing histories and landscapes (2018), and co-author of A New Naturalism (2005). Her new book, co-authored with Alex Johnson, entitled Habitat Creation in Garden Design: A guide to designing places for people and wildlife is due to be published by Crowood Press this summer.


Johanna Gibbons

Johanna Gibbons RDI is a Landscape Architect and Fellow of the Landscape Institute. Jo was named a Royal Designer for Industry for her ‘pioneering and influential work combining design with activism, education and professional practice’. She is founding Partner of J & L Gibbons and founding Director of social enterprise, Landscape Learn. Jo is an Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck University, a Core Research Partner of Urban Mind, she is a Panel Advisor to Historic England and the Forestry Commission and a Trustee of Open City. Jo was recently appointed a Commissioner to the Government of Jersey’s Architecture Commission. She publishes and lectures widely. Her most recent publication is 'Conversations on Urban Forestry’


Giacomo Guzzon

Giacomo Guzzon is a senior landscape architect, plantsman and prominent young voice in planting design. Originally from northeastern Italy, Giacomo relocated to the UK in 2012 and joined the landscape architecture and urban design consultancy Gillespies in 2014. During this time, he graduated with distinction from the Master in Landscape Architecture program at the University of Greenwich. Giacomo’s passion for plants began in his youth. His experience working in nurseries across Italy and the Netherlands offered an opportunity to explore this interest further and subsequently influenced him to pursue a career as a landscape designer and horticulturist. At Gillespies, Giacomo has developed an impressive and richly varied portfolio of urban landscapes, ranging from landscapes and planting compositions for several prestigious residential and mixed-use developments through high-profile public realms in London and internationally. Giacomo has a naturalistic planting style, combining plants to create habitat-specific planting mixes that suit each scheme’s specific character, use and environment. He aims to develop resilient and biodiverse plant communities that will evoke joy and curiosity, encourage wildlife and meliorate the effects of a climate change. In Gillespies’ London office, Giacomo leads the planting research group, organising plant tests, planting focused visits and talks. He also provides advice and support to staff across the practice on planting specifications for both UK and international projects. In addition to his professional practice, Giacomo is an academic tutor in planting design at the University of Sheffield and an external lecturer in planting design at the University of Greenwich and at the KLC School of Design in London. He also contributes to a variety of international conferences and publications. He has been the interpreter for several years at the International Landscape Conference ‘Aketipos’ in Bergamo, Italy. He has lectured at the Thei Institute in Hong Kong, at the Perennial Plant Conference in the USA, at Garden Masterclass in the UK and at Landscape Conferences in Lithuania and Slovenia.Giacomo is also a prolific writer on the well-known ‘The View from Federal Twist’ blog based in the USA and his essay on biodiverse plantings was published in the Landscape Planting Design book by Design Media in 2020.


John Little 

John argues against long standing protocol within public space and horticulture. He suggests structural complexity is overlooked in landscape design and is more important than plant choice Since starting the grassroofcompany in 1998 he has designed and built over 300 small greenroof buildings, combining deep biodiverse green roofs with walls of breeding and hibernation space. After 18 years caring for the greenspace on Clapton Park estate, Hackney, he produced a sustainable grounds maintenance contract that puts people first. He questions our obsession with specifying top soil in all new projects, especially on highways and new developments. Habitat trials at his home include a garden designed with spoil from the local road widening scheme, industrial and construction waste In 2008 he launched a range of small green roof shelters based on shipping containers and designed portable structures including bike and bin storage. 


Sarah Eberle FSGD

SGD Fellow Sarah Eberle graduated as a Landscape Architect over 40 years ago. She has since been awarded 17 RHS Gold Medals including 'Best in Show' at both the RHS Chelsea and RHS Hampton Court Flower Shows. She has also been granted the RHS Associate of Honour, a lifetime award with only 100 living recipients allowed at any time.





David Stevens FSGD

David Stevens FSGD has been designing gardens worldwide for over fifty years. He has 26 RHS Chelsea medals, 14 of which have been Gold, and he has won three 'Best in Show' awards. He has written 21 books on garden design and is one of the leading Educators.  David has had an immense influence on the growth and development of garden design both through his own work and as a teacher. He was there at the inception of the Society of Garden Designers and is now one of the many SGD Fellows.



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