Zia Allaway takes a look back at the garden design industry in 2018
The final chapters in the lives of two of the world’s most celebrated and influential garden designers came to a close in 2018. John Brookes MBE FSGD, widely regarded as the father of modern garden design, passed away in March aged 84. Brookes changed the way we think about gardens, redefining them as extensions of the homein his seminal book A Room Outside. Then, in May, the queen of sustainable planting, Beth Chatto, died at her home aged 94. In a career spanning six decades, Chatto won countless awards for her planting designs at her garden in Elmstead Market in Essex, where she practised what she preached to spectacular effect.
The year 2018 also marked the bicentenary of the death of the 18th century landscape designer Humphry Repton. Regarded as the rightful successor to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, Repton produced over 400 garden schemes, and the bicentenary was celebrated in exhibitions and talks throughout the UK, including a Symposium at the Garden Museum and an exhibition at Woburn Abbey.
Pressure to reduce the use of plastic rose to the top of the politicalagenda in 2018. TheBBC’s Blue Planet II highlighted the issue, poignantly showing how the huge volumes of plastic waste entering the oceans each yearis provingcatastrophic to marine life. Prompting a public cry for action, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, responded with plans to create new public water fountainsto help reduce single-use plastics, while the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, set an ambitious target to abolishtheir use in the city by 2020. At Chelsea, The Pearlfisher Garden by John Warland demonstrated the devastating effects of plastic in our oceans, and the horticulture industry started to phase in taupe pots that can be recycled more easily than black containers.
In November, to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, SGD Members joined other designers from countries that had taken part in the conflict to create Gardens of Peace along a memorial trail in the Hauts-de-France region. Helen and James Basson MSGD produced a design that honoured the English troops, while a garden by Andrew Fisher Tomlin FSGD and Dan Bowyers MSGD paid tribute to the Welsh forces.
Society events & achievements
The year kicked off with a glittering SGD Awards Ceremony at the Landmark Hotel in London. Matt Keightley MSGD was the star of the night, winning a collection of prizes, including The Judges’ Award, Medium Residential and Planting Design for an Eastern-inspired garden with a blend of water, clean lines and elegant planting. The Grand Award went to Robert Myers MSGD for The Magic Garden, his playful design for Hampton Court Palace, which also won the best Public & Commercial Award. Spanish landscape designer, Fernando Caruncho, renowned for his harmonious, minimalist gardens, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The theme for the Spring Conference was ‘A Light Touch: the expertise of understatement’, with speakers Ulf Nordfjell, Rick Dark, Michael Vergason, Catherine Heatherington MSGD and Julie Bargmann showcasing imaginative designs crafted with minimal intervention, embracing nature and allowing existing features to take centre stage. Bargmann stole the show with her lively presentation of her transformation of the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
The speakers for the Autumn event, entitled ‘Geometry: new angles on gardens and landscape’, were Christopher Bradley-Hole FSGD, Ian Kitson FSGD, Kate Cullity of award-winning Australian landscape architecture practice TCL, Milan-based designer Cristina Mazzucchelli and Brazilian designer Alex Hanazaki.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show was back on form after a disappointing 2017, with more Main Avenue gardens and a new ‘Space to Grow’ category helping to restore some of the sparkle. New rules were also introduced, as high-risk plants from abroad were banned in a bid to keep Xylella from our shores.
The Best Show Garden accolade went to Chris Beardshaw for his Morgan Stanley garden for the NSPCC. Four SGD Members won the top medals in three of the design categories. Jo Thompson MSGD scooped her fourth Gold for her Wedgewood garden in the Show Garden category, while in the Space to Grow category, Golds were presented to Kate Gould MSGD for her innovative New West End Garden; Tony Woods MSGD for his Urban Flow design; and Pre-Registered Member Catherine MacDonald for her Seedlip Garden, which celebrated the humble pea. In the pavilion, Sarah Eberle FSGD was also awarded Gold for her Hillier garden, “Stihl Inspiration”.
A new Garden Show at Ascot’s famous racecourse opened to great acclaim in April with six show gardens curated by Andrew Fisher Tomlin FSGD. The line-up of top designers included Kate Gould MSGD and Pre-Registered Member Catherine Macdonald.
The second RHS Chatsworth Flower Show had only a handful of show gardens on offer. SGD Member Phil Hirst’s ‘The Great Outdoors’ stood out from the crowd and secured Best in Show and a Gold medal, while Silver-Gilt medals were awarded to Pre-Registered Member Elspeth Stockwell and non-member Jo Fairfax for their ‘John Deere: 100 Years of Tractors Garden’, and to Pre-Registered Members Amanda Waring and Laura Arison for a flower-filled ‘CCLA: A Family Garden’.
At the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Pre-Registered SGD Member Matthew Childs took home Best in Show and a gold medal for his ‘B&Q Bursting Busy Lizzie Garden’, and Rosemary Coldstream MSGD won a gold for‘Best of Both Worlds’, which helped to raise awareness of BALI’s GoLandscape programme.
At RHS Show Tatton Park, London College of Garden Design graduate, Will Williams, was crowned RHS Young Garden Designer of the Year. Pre-Registered SGD Member Briony Doubleday won Best Back-to-Back Garden and Student Member David Green picked up Best Future Spaces Garden.
Outside the UK, Moscow’s ‘Flower Jam’ festival returned this year, with James Basson MSGD and Pre-Registered SGD Member Matthew Childs taking part in the celebration of the city’s ‘Bright Colours’. James created an unjudged installation inspired by the famous Russian ballerina, Maya Plisetkaya, and Matthew collaborated with landscape architect Peter Fink on an installation along Tverskoy boulevard.
At the Singapore Garden Festival, Andy Sturgeon FSGD and Jim Fogarty won a Gold in the Landscape Category and the award for Best Construction for their ‘Immersion’ garden, and Kate Gould MSGD picked up a gold for her ‘Urban Lifestyle’ garden in the Landscape Category, as well as the award for Best Outdoor Lighting. Pre-Registered SGD Member Tom Massey won the Best Indoor Lighting Award and a Gold Medal for his ‘Precious Land’ garden in the Fantasy Gardens Category.
Missed something last year? Find out which issue different topics, people and projects featured in with our 2018 GDJ Features Index, which you can download here