Tuesday 24th April, 2012
Last week I saw my all time planting hero Piet Oudolf speaking in Leeds. He’s a Dutch garden designer and a leading figure in the ‘New Perennial’ planting movement. I’m a bit of a fan. I knew it was slightly embarrassing but I took one of his books with me and a black pen. If I can stalk Jarvis Cocker so successfully then Piet should be a doddle.
Saturday 21st April, 2012
I needed some new photographs of myself for general publicity, LinkedIn, and so forth, and as I know an excellent photographer in Cardiff, Claire of Claire Cousin Photography, I booked a breakfast session. Unfortunately I arrived with a hangover, having had just the three hours sleep… I thought I’d put all her skills to the test!
Friday 20th April, 2012
A trip to Cardiff combining the RHS Show with the visiting of some good friends along the way. In addition to seeing the gardens and taking lots of photographs I was on a mission to talk to some designers and extract as much wisdom from them as I could.
First stop Chris Beardshaw, his garden Urban Oasis was designed in consultation with community workers and landscape architects at Groundwork and in collaboration with the RHS. It was lovely with beautiful planting (see photo above). He’s taking a different garden to every RHS Show this year, blimey! I quizzed Chris about the planting and he gave me some great advice: make sure you’ve planted three to four days before judging so the plants have time to relax; and, if you’ve bought the plants rather than borrowed them, then plant them out of the pots, again they relax more and even grow a little.
Wednesday 18th April, 2012
So I got my extension of a couple of days from the RHS, worked from early till late and discovered at the last minute that I really can’t sketch multi-stem birches!
Thursday 12th April, 2012
I have found two nurseries in the north west who may be able to supply me some show quality plants for June. It’s a miracle!
I didn’t exactly find them myself… Richard Sneesby, my tutor who I spoke to earlier in the week, gave me the details of his friend Paul Richards, a garden designer based in the north west who has designed some beautiful show gardens. I emailed him with my usual “help me please I don’t know what I’m doing…” and he sent me a lovely email in return, warning me that I would have many sleepless nights ahead, offering me any further advice I may need, and providing me with details of two good nurseries, one Ladybrook Nursery in Bramhall where I am to speak with Janine, and the other Brentwood Moss Nursery near Irlam where I am to speak with Catherine. And I’m to mention his name.
Wednesday 11th April, 2012
Today I met with my lovely friend Katie Guillebaud and her husband Alex in Taddington. The drive there was so breathtaking, I had forgotten how beautiful the Cotswolds are. They live at Taddington Manor where Alex runs Architectural Heritage who provide absolutely stunning period and reproduction garden ornament.
Katie is a fantastic garden designer and I wanted to pick her brains as she has loads of show garden experience at Chelsea. She gave me tons of advice over lunch, particularly about planting. When I left she filled my car boot with Miscanthus and Sanguisorba menziesii… a garden designer’s party bag!
Tuesday 10th April, 2012
Had a great meeting with Rupert from Keyscape in Pershore. Rupert is knowledgable and helpful. He’s had lots of experience building show gardens and got really stuck into bouncing around design ideas. He is also going to take me to meet Simon at Ready Hedge tomorrow to look at options for the boundary.
Monday 9th April, 2012
I’ve spent all day at the drawing board, surrounded by books and photos for inspiration, gardens I’ve visited and plant combinations I love… and quite a lot of time trying to remember how to set up a grid for a two point perspective drawing.
Sunday 8th April, 2012
I’ve spent a very productive afternoon pegging out the outlines of the (still very) draft design with bits of broken bamboo canes and string in the garden. I knew that if the size of the show garden could fit into my own garden, then I could mark it out (just like a stage manager would do for actors in a rehearsal room) and walk around it, getting a feel for the space and scale. My garden is in an embarrassing state for a landscape and garden designer (too many ideas, not enough budget) but it’s perfect for finding bits of broken timber to lay out and the odd discarded indoor pot plant to represent a tree.
Saturday 7th April, 2012
A day off. I stayed over with my brother and sister in law and helped them plant up their garden (designed on a train a couple of weeks earlier). I played with my adorable niece and had a lovely evening eating takeaway and drinking wine. I didn’t open my design folder once… lovely.