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13 Noviembre 2012

Garden design: it's not just about the plants

Pretty flowers there may be, but making a three-dimensional space that is both practical and beautiful is about so much more, argues Amanda Patton.

AMANDA PATTON

The Guardian (Reino Unido) [Crónica]

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(1) an Kitson's award-winning design for Follers Manor in East Sussex. Photo: Marianne Majerus (2) The Tokachi Millennium Forest, designed by Dan Pearson. Photo: Syogo Iizumi (3) Amberd Lodge, by Amanda Patton, who won the planting design award at the SGD Awards. Amanda Patton

If you were to meet a garden designer at a social function, I'd lay odds you would launch into a discussion of your gardening woes. I know we are supposedly a nation of gardeners, but would you ask an architect for bricklaying advice or an interior designer about vacuuming?

There is a public misconception about garden design that it is about gardening – it isn't. It's about design; the manipulation and organisation of three-dimensional space. Plants play a part in this of course, but so too does paving, lighting and drainage systems. So while pretty flowers may contribute in the creation of something beautiful, design involves spatial awareness, a bit of human psychology and, as Steve Jobs once said, "design is how it works".

But garden design is more complex again; it doesn't just exist in its own space but needs to make sense of the context of the space; how it relates to buildings and the wider landscape, whether that's the neighbour's dominating Leylandii hedge or a far-distant rural view.

How welcome then, that the Society of Garden Designers has launched the SGD Awards, its inaugural awards scheme to reward fine design and increase understanding of the contribution a professional garden designer can make to both public and private spaces.

At the Awards ceremony last Friday, broadcaster, garden designer and host for the evening James Alexander-Sinclair touched playfully on the rivalry between garden designers and landscape architects, saying that the difference between the two is that garden designers make places pretty while landscape designers make it easy to park your car. The reality is, of course, that there is huge overlap between both disciplines and James went on to say that it's about the creation of "better, more useful and prettier places".

We were treated to a whole series of inspirational pictures from winners and finalists, demonstrating better, useful and beautiful places. A tiny back garden in Chelmsford designed by Patricia Fox, scooped the best small garden award for clever planting and beautifully finished hard landscaping, while the 240-hectare Tokachi Millennium Forest designed by Dan Pearson, which won the grand award, the most prestigious award of the night. Dan's vision for the project has been to engage a largely urban population with the natural environment and it was described by the judges as "extraordinarily skilful and appeared completely effortless and natural".

We were treated to a whole series of inspirational pictures from winners and finalists, demonstrating better, useful and beautiful places. A tiny back garden in Chelmsford designed by Patricia Fox, scooped the best small garden award for clever planting and beautifully finished hard landscaping, while the 240-hectare Tokachi Millennium Forest designed by Dan Pearson, which won the grand award, the most prestigious award of the night. Dan's vision for the project has been to engage a largely urban population with the natural environment and it was described by the judges as "extraordinarily skilful and appeared completely effortless and natural".

 

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