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Theme of the month – Annual Society of Garden Designers Awards

And the winners are…

Christopher Bradley - Garden Designer

On Friday 27 January 2017, Christopher Bradley-Hole received the Society of Garden Designer’s highest accolade: The Lifetime Achievement Award

On Friday 27 January, I was extremely fortunate to be invited by the SGD Education Committee Chair, Sarah Morgan MSGD  to sit at the ‘Educator’s Table’ at the Society of Garden Designers Annual Awards Dinner and, as the SGD Chairman – Philippa O’Brien noted, “my goodness, you garden designers do scrub up well”. The event was held at the elegant Landmark Hotel in London’s Marylebone and provided the perfect setting for an astonishingly diverse range of projects in 22 categories. All the entries were connected by commitment to integrity and respect for the environment as evidenced by the winners of the two highest accolades, The Lifetime Achievement Award deservedly collected by Christopher Bradley-Hole FSGD  and the Special SGD Award, equally well deserved being collected by John Brookes MBE FSGD  for services to the industry. The Special Award was designed by the excellent David Harber.

John Brookes - Garden Designer

John Brookes MBS FSGD received the Society of Garden Designers Special Award

I am not going to attempt a full discussion of all 22 winners and the criteria for selection – such an undertaking would fill a book rather than a blogpost, but I will pick out some of my unashamedly personal favourites. A full review of the winner’s and their work can be found at:

A clear favourite was ‘The Hermitage’ designed by one of my long-standing garden heroines: Arabella Lennox-Boyd MSGD  whose well-structured but sensitive planting complements the beautiful Cotswold landscape in which it is set. Lady Lennox-Boyd quite correctly won the ‘Large Residential Award and the Planting Design Awards. An indication of the knowledge, sophistication and insight evidenced by her ‘sophisticated interpretation of the classic style’ can be seen below:

Arabella Lennox - Garden Designer

The International Award and Grand Awards were won by Tommaso del Buono MSGD  for his Chateau in Provence. The project took almost three years to complete and combines impeccable attention to detail in both the hard landscaping and the planting. The judges commented that “This was a self-confident piece of landscape architecture with an outstanding organisation of space that works well in the setting”.

Tommaso del Buono - Garden Designer

The Big Ideas, Small Budget Award was claimed by Joanne Willcocks for her Small Lakeside Garden. An essay in exuberant planting, appropriate use of materials and respect for the site, this garden is even more remarkable in that its construction budget was under £10,000. Part of the brief was to create ‘… a simple but bold organic design with soft natural style planting to encourage wildlife and give some privacy in summer months.”

Joanne Willcocks - Garden Designer

The important category of Future Designer Award, open to partially or pre-registered Members who have been practicing for less than five years. This Award was won by Daniel Shea for his garden ‘Game Keeper’s Cottage in rural Hertfordshire. The judges thought that Daniel’s was “An exceptional design that met the client’s brief in a bold yet sympathetic way. The garden design helps unify the new build into the existing site and complements both the old and the new.”

Daniel Shea - Garden designers

Finally, in this abbreviated overview of the SGD Awards, The Student Awards. These are divided into two categories: Student Design Commercial and Student Design Domestic. The winner of the Commercial Award was Richard Riddell for the Royal William Yard Gardens in Plymouth, a complex of historical listed buildings of mixed use. A challenging brief responded to by Richard in a well-organised and sympathetic way.

Richard Riddell - Student Award Garden Designer

The Student Design Domestic was, unusually, claimed this year by joint winners Victoria Chesterfield for her Woodcombe Crescent garden and Jane Finlay for The Restorative Garden.   Of Victoria’s design, the judges said “A strong, elegant design with a clear narrative that takes you on an interesting journey through the garden.  A cohesive theme throughout with some exciting cantilever elements.” and of Janes  A good use of space and interpretation of the brief.  The theming was bold, without feeling imposed. Strong graphics that enhanced the narrative, including some very useful sectional elevations”

Victoria Chesterfield and Jane Finlay Student Award Garden Design

(Left) Victoria Chesterfield: Woodcombe Crescent (Right) Jane Finlay: The Restorative Garden

Please do visit the Society of Garden Designers Awards website for much more information on these winners and the winners of the other categories together with information about sponsors and the construction companies who installed the gardens and on whom so much depends. 

I will end with a Call to Action: All students of Garden Design should enter the SGD Student Design Awards competition, the future vitality of the industry depends on you and winning may provide your career with a flying start.

Anthony Rayworth

Director of Studies, National Design Academy



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