Review of the Society of Garden Designers Awards 2013

John Lawson, Andrew Lawson and John Brookes at Society of Garden Design Awards 2013

Last Friday, the Society of Garden Designers Awards celebrated the best of 2013 – the achievements of creative and innovative garden designers, spread across eighteen award categories.

The evening has been described as the horticultural Oscars and we were very fortunate to have many winners on our two tables, made up of British garden designers who work both locally to us (Hampshire), nationally and internationally. In fact the evening was well staged (by the SGD) and hosted and the awards, whilst being inclusive, did not take all night to hand out – as James Alexander Sinclair (the MC) amusingly said “no speeches – the stage belongs to me...” Juliet Sargeant, chair of the SGD told the three hundred guests that there were to be lots more winners to celebrate this year, but to happen in the same time frame as last year. As a result, the evening was fun and entertaining; everyone had the opportunity to relax and chat, as well as celebrate individual triumphs. 

In the vain hope that there may be a future award for “the best Chelsea Flower Show Bronze award,”James A-S steered the awards with a deft hand. The Young Designers award sponsored by Haddonstone was won by Nicholas Morton with James A-S commenting that it was good to get the “pushy young whipper-snappers out of the way”. Andy Sturgeon (pictured -top)won three awards which was amazing and certainly demonstrates how high he is flying at the moment, along with his recent win in South Korea. Sally Court,(pictured with John Brookes) another of our guests won the International Award, sponsored by Landform. Sally’s garden featured an Alitex greenhouse , which made her win even more special for us, although we were delighted to see a number of the short listed and winning gardens feature our greenhouses. For a full list breakdown of the winners click here.

The Alitex team included many familiar faces – Tom Hall, Jane Tocher, Chris Sawyer, John Lawson and Laura Bradley, whilst the rest of us watched the awards seep through onto Twitter. Our team loved the anecdotes and quotes displayed by the sponsors Barcham Tree Specialists - eg. "I like trees but burglars hide behind them", or "I like trees but they keep growing and dropping leaves." You certainly can't please everyone it would seem!

New awards included “Paper Landscapes”, sponsored by The Modern Garden Company. Nicola Greaves won this award which acknowledges that some of the best designs get no further than the paper they were imagined on. It’s a great way of including inspirational projects which for all kinds of modern day reasons just don’t happen.

We sponsor the John Brookes Lifetime Achievement award, as Tom Hall, owner of Alitex comments: “We have known and worked with John for decades and is very much a guiding light for Alitex, often showing us ways forward. It’s an honour to be associated with John and by sponsoring this award we hope we demonstrate that.”

John Brookes has been an influential British garden designer for so many years, both at home and abroad, as James A-S commented, “he’s been around since before Adam and Eve”, that it is entirely fitting he should present the Lifetime Achievement Award. John listed some of his influences as being Sissinghurst, Barnsley House and Hidcote, whilst mentioning that designers he admired included Chris Bradley Hole, Dan Pearson and Tom Stuart Smith.

“John Brookes is one of the most influential garden designers of the late twentieth century, famous for his work, his teaching and his writing” (Influential Gardeners by Andrew Wilson – Mitchell Beazley)

The winner this year was Andrew Lawson a garden photographer who has brought the beauty of gardens to so many. Andrew described his purpose as “capturing the perfect moment between the dew and the moment the sun comes up – so that others can share it.” He accepted the award on behalf of all garden photographers, who, like the gardening world all seem to share a camaraderie alongside healthy competition.

It will be interesting to see how the SGD can build on this event for next year – it truly was a successful event and not just for the winners – it was good fun!

Well done to all shortlisted garden designers and to the evening’s winners and we look forward to your work in 2014.

Tags: alitex, society of garden designers, john brookes, sally court, james alexander Sinclair, andy sturgeon