20 November 2013 By Billy Hawkins
As part of our on going relationship and friendships with garden designers here at Alitex we like to be involved with the Society of Garden Designers.
Last Saturday was the Autumn Conference, held in London and attended by garden designers from all over the UK and even internationally. It's a good networking event and our team even managed to catch a chat with Rae Wilkinson who designed the garden we used in most of our adverts this year (see the image).
Amanda Stephens and Jane Tocher represented Alitex in the trade hall which runs alongside four lectures which run through the day – ably chaired by the great raconteur James Alexander-Sinclair. Our team also visited the lectures which is a great way of catching up with the personalities involved and hearing what they have to say. Predominantly the brief appears to be explaining how they got into the gardening profession, sharing life experiences and how they are making it work. As you can imagine this provides good content for laughter and inspiration. As Jane said “It is the most enjoyable conference I’ve been to in at least half a dozen years – a work day which feels like a personal day will always be fun.”
Cleve West started the lectures with amusing anecdotes about his horticultural life – clearly a good pal of James Alexander-Sinclair’s, the banter brought gardening on the allotment (and beyond) to life. Both Amanda and Jane found great inspiration in the talk by Acres Wild; Debbie Roberts and Ian Smith talked of gardens “evolving” and aiming to sit the garden in a non-obvious way alongside nature. “I particularly liked this talk”, Amanda told me, “it’s a personal taste thing – I like the idea of the garden seamlessly and harmoniously taking shape – but the scale Acres Wild was working with was extraordinary. Country Estate massive but still getting it so right!”
The opportunity to meet new and old garden design friends is a welcome one at events like this; the society is a forum which has relevance and energy and is well organised by Juliet Sargeant. Even the catering got a big tick from Jane and Amanda.
The afternoon session also got a thumbs up from the Alitex team. Amanda thoroughly enjoyed Jinny Blom’s talk because it was full of details of her extraordinary life. Jane said that you could have heard a pin drop in the room – by incorporating amusing anecdote and huge surprises everyone was hooked. Sounds like a great speaker. Andy Sturgeon rounded up the day (very brave as so much has already been said and shared) shedding light on his recent projects, creating a shared understanding of the challenges involved.
In between all the lectures the delegates have the opportunity to wander the trade hall, finding out more about advances in the horticultural industry and what’s out there (Easigrass for example, the event's sponsors, have a really good quality product which is a good substitute for grass in either small gardens or well trodden areas.)
We ran a prize draw for Chelsea tickets – the winner will be notified shortly.
The Society of Garden Designers Awards take place in London on Friday 24th January and we are pleased to sponsor once again, the John Brookes Lifetime Achievement Award. This evening has been described as the horticultural Oscars so we look forward to reporting back.