12 June 2019 By Tash Ellens
West Dean College is set within the impressive West Dean Estate and is surrounded by the beautifully restored gardens. It provides an inspirational and creative place to study.
We attended Annie Guilfoyle’s Garden Design class on Sunday 9 June. The course explores how to transform your ideas into a plan, taking you through the stages of finding inspiration, surveying the site and designing your layout.
Annie has a wealth of knowledge in Garden Design, having been working within the industry for over 30 years. During the course Annie shares her favourite places to find inspiration and details about the garden design process.
Annie Guilfoyle's Top Garden Design Tips
Find your inspiration from a range of places and books. By visiting public’s gardens you can learn a lot from the way they use materials, shapes, plants and colours. You may also be inspired by countries you visit and the architecture around you.
Survey the site or hire a surveyor for a professional review that uses the latest digital tools. By surveying the site yourself you may want to invest in a few measurement tools to look at the size of your garden and the existing permanent features. You will also want to consider where your windows and doors are and what they will be looking out onto.
Identify the soil type by looking the pH and the structure. You will want to know what the pH value is to get an idea of what kind of plants will thrive in your garden. The structure, whether it’s more sandy or clay-like, will also help when planning your planting scheme – however, the structure of your soil can be improved over time by adding in the nutrients and materials that it may be lacking.
Where does your garden sit on the compass? Photographing your garden throughout the day will help you understand how the light moves around the space. Whilst looking at which direction your garden faces, also consider how the wind affects the space and whether it will need screening to filter the wind load.
Print out photographs of your garden, stick tracing paper over the top and then begin to sketch out some ideas in sections. For example, where the trees are located, will they affect your design and do you want to block out the neighbours or make the most of your views.
Look beyond the garden at the surrounding area to find inspiration for your planting scheme. See what is growing well in the countryside, or your neighbour’s garden as this will likely grow well in yours.
The course had lots of information packed into it, with Annie’s knowledge and passion for horticulture shining through. Whether you want to learn more about gardening, artistry or craft skills, there are a number of courses at West Dean with a range of tutors hosted throughout the year. To find the perfect course for yourself see here.
If you are unable to attend West Dean, Annie has teamed up with Noel Kingsbury to bring together a programme of Garden Masterclasses held across the country and Europe. Each workshop is hosted by an experienced horticulturalists, organised around a specific topic and designed to help participants to learn, create and apply new knowledge and skills. Find out more.