Garden Talk


Doing it with vegetables: a bit of a rant on the part of garden designers

Posted by Catharine on August 31st 2011
The non glossy but very cool Garden Design Journal often has a thought provoking contribution from Tim Richardson. His latest, for September,  will raise a show of hands from garden designers who do not belong to the  BGP. (Big Gun Posse) As one of those types of designer - ie the slightly disgruntled second division - Tim’s article    voices what has been going round and round in my head like a mantra.  The soft landscaping elements (I am talking of the green side of things: lawns, trees, flowerbeds - anything living, in short) conjured on a drawing board or screen and presented to the client as a static thing,  are disobedient.  Nature is not biddable.   Some flowers may seed around like crazy.  Weeds walk in.  A shrub curls up it’s roots and dies.  Constant intervention  is required to keep up the artifice.  This conceit is the natural look of the garden. Non Big Gun designers tend to have clients that cannot afford trained gardeners.  They are more likely to hire some good old boy who knows his allotment inside out or a college leaver who is motivated with a hoe in the clueless way. At the beginning of the designer- client relationship all is straight.  The agreed  design is conjured up, dug in and delivered.  But then it all begins to go horribly wrong as no-one is taking a handle on pruning, weeding, digging up and dividing.  In short all those journeyman tasks which just have to be done OFTEN and require the knowledge. Hats off to Tim who talks of  turning the non-gardening punter into  a gardener.  The sneaky in on this is e to “get a client out planting vegetables as soon as possible”.  More than once, I have been horribly disappointed by the ruination of a planting scheme due to client inertia or ignorance. From this experience, I am pushed further and further into becoming (dreaded words) a garden coach. Here is the hope for the garden to develop properly and for my reputation  along with it.  “The education of the gardener and also an insurance policy on the part of the designer”.  Spot on Tim. PS Any excuse to sneak in a vegetable folly display
Doing it with vegetables:  a bit of a rant on the part of garden designers