Did anyone manage to catch Gardeners' World yesterday (available on iPlayer if you didn't)?
Is Charles Rutherfoord's garden a planting masterclass or a bit of a mess?
I don't know what you thought but I felt the whole garden looked a bit of a pickle. If I'm honest it looked like a typical garden - seen many times on my travels during my career - that had been filled with plants from swapsies and plant fairs where the structure developed by a plant being placed in the nearest bit of available ground.
It's the kind of garden my clients achieved, quite respectably, by accident.
Charles Rutherfoord is the newly elected chair of the Society of Garden Designers and he's made no secret of the fact he isn't a lover of hard landscaping...in fact he thinks there's too much hard landscaping.
Could it be that Rutherfoord is actually frightened of structure?
I've seen Charles' gardens in a couple of springs - lovely planting of tulips giving over to irises and peonies (though not sure what happens after that, interest-wise). There's an inspiring genius loci, and the public respond with oohs and aahs. As others have commented, spatial planning is conspicuous by its absence. This is curiously at odds with the statements on his website 'an architectrual designer whose work is founded in the structural and sculptural' (i remembered he said he was an architect, so have looked it up). I was touched, on my visit, to see his RHS level 2 Cert displayed in the geodesic dome.
I don't doubt he is talented, though he may not have garden design/lansdcaping specific background. I hope he also possesses the quite different skillset needed to serve the SGD well.
I'd like to understand how the SGD election process works Helen.
I don't disagree with some of the things you are saying Helen but it throws up an awful lot more questions than answers for me.
Some of the most pleasing architecture (talking bricks and mortar here) I've seen on my travels has been created over hundreds of years.
Infill between properties, or additions or repair to a single building using two totally differing styles and materials that are completely at odds with each other, for example. The mistakes (I use that term in the context that an architectural student would have never been encouraged to do it) are often the most eye catching and inspiring.
This is one thing that really bothers me about today's hard landscaping. Is everyone is so fearful of being branded a cowboy that the only solution and way forward, it seems, is to create a garden that is precise and linear (and I even mean curves when describing linear)?
One of the most attractive features I ever built in a landscape was at a converted barn on the site of a medieval lepers colony. The history of the barn and its construction originated around the same time.
I was asked to extend a garden wall that had been built by the building company that had renovated the barn, Their work was pristine and exacting...in fact it couldn't be faulted except for one major flaw.
All of the materials were new. Double Diamond bricks were used for the quoins with non indigenous stone for the face of the wall. The pointing around the stone was raised and weather struck whilst the pointing on the bricks was ironed back to leave a crisp semi-circular effect.
The bricks were machine manufactured with crisp and precise faces and straight tight arris.
One only had to glance some fifty paces over to see that this new - but fantastically well built - wall was wrong in its location. It was design madness.
I successfully argued (and my client's didn't need much persuading as they'd bought the barn after renovation and hadn't commissioned the wall in the first place) that we should use the 2" and 3" soft hand made bricks or a matching colour and the local stone (the project was in Hampshire, not far from Gilbert White's house in Selborne and all of the local houses that were built in stone, used the limestone marl which formed much of the natural landscape, including the famous hangars).
We actually sourced much of the stone and some of the bricks from around the property itself in the end. The stone was irregular and the bricks twisted and knurled; some broken and incomplete.
I had a good friend help me. He was a builder by trade and what we did next made him uncomfortable.
We created a conventional footing as one would do normally. After this we abandoned levels and lines and used sight only.
Dave, my friend, remained uncomfortable almost until the end of the project but after raking out the lime mortar joints, back filling the border which the wall retained and raking clean the grass below, the result was truly pleasing to the eye.
After planting, the following season with its day lilies, forget-me-nots, ladies' mantle and columbine, was a real joy and it would have taken a keen eye (even though I say so myself) to spot that the wall wasn't built in a similar ere to the barn.
It's quite possible that the materials I used would have failed, in places, by now (the wall I built was circa 1990 and the materials had already endured several hundred years of weather in their previous setting) but I hope that the following twenty odd years have given pleasure to my clients?
I've just read back all I've written and I'm sorry I've gone off on a tangent with the topic but I hope my example gives everyone a sense of the challenges in garden design and build?
Back to Charles Rutherfoord for a moment. Does his appointment and the subsequent discussion(s) give rise to a complete rethink to the approach to garden design?
Helen Gazeley said:
Well, as you say Phil, Charles Rutherfoord has been elected to represent the SGD, so that indicates that the majority of its members think he has a point (or is the chairman elected by other means?). Perhaps they've been a significant body that hasn't spoken up.
I don't think, though, that I expressed myself lucidly enough (no change there then) about designing "by accident". If a good design looks as if it's been arrived at by accident - giving the impression grown over time, evolved etc - then this is an indication of the supreme talent of a designer.
Benedict says "An ad hoc continually evolving space is what most gardens end up being and what a designer should help a client avoid", but while I agree there should be a unifying scheme (premeditated, Benedict says), a garden is surely a living, breathing space, which must be continually evolving for it to call itself a garden. This, for me, is the weakness of so many garden designs - they look as if the plants aren't meant to grow and the design is static.
Incidentally, Luciano says of himself that he's not a gardener. He certainly produces works of art - but are they gardens?
Actually, the SGD website says Rutherfoord was appointed. There's no mention of elections.
"The Society of Garden Designers (SGD) has appointed Charles Rutherfoord MSGD as its new Chairman."
Can anyone from the SGD shed light on the process?
It doesn't bother me Kevin but I do have an interest (no I'm not a member of the SGD).
I think both members and non-members of any organisation that has an influence and makes decisions that affects others (especially non-members) should take an interest in the industry as a whole.
Yes Landscape Juice is open to all in the landscape and garden industry.
it just seems that your slant is that your troubled that Charles Rutherford will influence designers to use less hard landscaping, personally and being an SGD member by the way i look at all things and listen less for inspiration.
i also think if you were to look at the work of SGD members you would find a great variety of style and influence,irrespective of what Charles Rutherfords inclinations.
Also it is the client that drives the brief or at least it should be, and if they dont want to be sat on a pile of earth as opposed to a nice terrace, patio etc Im sure they would let me know.