Gardens, like homes, tend to reflect the lives of those who live in it. Sun worshippers will have garden furniture for sunbathing and dining, more private residents may opt for tall privet bushes to shield them from unwanted attention, while those used to entertaining might plump for more lavish displays, such as water features and ornately sculpted topiary.
Deciding how you would like your garden to look is the easy part; the real challenge is finding the best kind of garden designer to suit your specific requirements.
When considering the design of your garden, one of the best places to start is by getting in touch with the Society of Garden Designers (SGD), which can put you in touch with the leading designers working in your area.
If you prefer, you can meet the SGD at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show, where members will be on hand to provide expert advice on choosing a garden designer for your own project, be it the transformation of a small urban space or a large country garden.
The proof of SGD members’ expertise can be witnessed each year as they join the leading garden designers in the world at the Chelsea Flower Show. At last year’s Chelsea alone, SGD members won 14 medals, including the Best in Show award. An impressive 11 medals were also awarded to SGD members at last year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
Going to a standardised body such as the SGD is a safer option than simply hiring just any private designer, as anyone can call themselves a garden designer these days. And the proliferation of garden design courses now offered means standards can vary a great deal.
As a result, the need for a professional body in garden design is now more important than it has ever been. To that end the SGD was established back in 1981 and is currently the only professional body in the UK dedicated solely to garden design. Some of its current members include leaders in the garden design world such as John Brookes, Sarah Eberle, Christopher Bradley-Hole, Arabella Lennox-Boyd, Dan Pearson, Julie Toll, Andy Sturgeon and Cleve West.
All registered members have proven experience and have passed the SGD’s thorough accreditation and appraisal process. They can provide a professional design service that covers a wide range of skills beyond most clients’ expectations. The complete garden design portfolio covers: all aspects of hard-landscaping including structure and drainage; planting design and sourcing; maintenance; costing; project management; specialist elements including water, lighting and garden furniture; and members may have additional specialist skills such as expertise on historic garden restoration.
Its not enough just to know which plants look best and what soil to use. Today’s designer needs to draw on skills that include a sound horticultural knowledge, an understanding of ecology and conservation, the ability to analyse the garden and, most of all, to interpret effectively the hopes and wishes of the client.
To this end the SGD’s website makes the search for a garden designer simple. A comprehensive search facility locates designers throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland and provides information on individual registered members’ areas of specialisation.