Education Vs. Raw Talent and Experience

I have had countless heated discussions with a very good friend and fellow colleague about this very subject and have never really come to a solid conclusion about who is right or what should be done. Should all garden designers have a baseline qualification and belong to a governing body or should we let raw talent and creative people be and mind our own business?

To leave it alone is just not an option for me as this is something that I have become very passionate about over the last 10 years while working within the industry, alongside studying for my BA Hon in Garden Design at Greenwich University and Hadlow College.

I recently read a fantastic article by Janine Pattison about the very same thing ‘The Garden Skills Gap’ in the January edition of the Society of Garden Design’s Journal, discussing the varying skill levels that garden designers have post education. I say fantastic when clearly this flags an extreme issue within the garden design education sector, but I am thankful that someone else has seen and had the courage to mention this problem.

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The issues, as I see them, are simply that nothing governs who sets up as a garden designer, nothing controls the very education that these people have been taught and overall nothing governs the very industry as a whole.

The SGD, Society of Garden Design, is the only official body in the UK dedicated to garden designers and does amazing work to support, promote and raise the standards of its members and designers in general, helping to encourage others to achieve the high standards required to become a member. However outside of this there is little control to the type of education that schools, colleges and universities are offering aspiring garden designers and no control on who is actively practicing and the quality of the services they are providing.

What I feel and think should be done, I suppose a personal crusade and lifetime goal, is focused on education, however I don’t think the answer is singular and one directional. I think a combination of a governing body that regulates the entire industry like RIBA is to Architects or LI is too Landscape Architects, alongside a shake up in the education sector to provide a baseline qualification and a standard syllabus.

The industry needs a working partnership between the education sector and garden designers/practices. I believe the first step towards a more cohesive industry is a formal syllabus for gardening schools, colleges and universities to conform too, to ensure that the level of education is firstly what is required out in the real world and, done to the standards it needs to be to ensure that designers heading out into the world are ready and prepared for the jobs they will be doing.

In short, the age-old war of education vs. raw talent and experience needs to be put to bed! It is to do with a combination of all 3 of these things standing together as all are essential qualities and must not be denied or pushed aside, however something must be done for the industry to move forward and grow!

Feel free to post any thoughts, comments or ideas, would be great to discuss them.

We do it better than anyone else…

We do it better than anyone else…

Monty Don recently laid claim that Britain’s do gardening the best, being one of the first industrialised nations to lead the way.

However… Garden history stretches back over 4 millennia with the first gardens ever created found in Ancient Mesopotamia. The key to the development of these gardens and that of future nations throughout the world was all down to one simple catalyst, that of safety. Only once a nation was settled and safe could it shift its focus onto the development of its culture; the development of arts, beliefs, cuisine, and language and ultimately the art of gardening.

Secure, developed and Industrialised nations hence forth become the leading lights in the world of gardening and garden design, with Britain sitting firmly amongst these, yet not being one of the first. Britain is indeed a nation of gardeners and garden lovers but what evidence is there to say we do it better than others….

As time marches on garden design is becoming ever more diverse. Every movement in garden design throughout history has been based around the development of a culture, its art, a kings desire to demonstrate his absolute power to rule (Louis 14th – The Sun King) or a families demonstration of wealth (The Medici’s).

As we enter the 21st century garden design is spreading out in every direction, each designer creating a unique body of work that’s style is as unique to them as each garden is to the next and from one unique client to the next.

To say that one nation designs or gardens better than another is very short sighted, as there is a world of knowledge we can all learn from and it is only by reviewing the past can we move forward into a new era of garden design. Some of the gardens closest to my heart like Sissinghurst Castle Garden by Vita Sackville-West and Hestercombe by Gertrude Jeykll and Edwin Lutyens are stunning examples of British garden design, but they were appropriate to that time and place.

Only by looking back and learning from what has gone before can we look to the future, a future which is a world away from the traditional formal country gardens that have gone before.

Only once we as a nation move forward and embrace the inevitable change that is on the horizon for garden design, will I ever really believe

‘We do it better”

The first post of the rest of my life.

Well it has been some time since I last put a post on this blog and think it is about time I did. Much has happened in the last few months and thankfully all of it for the better!

I have finally finished my degree after 4 years hard, hard work gaining First Class Honours, which made it all worth while. Alongside gaining a First, myself and a very close friend Beth completed our first main show garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Green Seam, gaining an RHS Gold medal and Best In Show. We were beyond speechless and over the moon.

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Green Seam – Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015

Since then I have been busy setting up my own design practice and am firmly on my way. Please do check out my new website:

http://www.stuartcharlestowner.co.uk

This blog will become part of my everyday life now, posting blogs once a week linked to current topics within the world of horticulture, garden design and my work.

Hope you enjoy the posts as I begin my journey into the world of freelance garden design.

Another Seventh Circle of Hell….

Well my construction drawings are coming along nicely, but are driving me insane so I thought I have a break….and start my A3 design development document 😂😂😖😖!!

   

Some snipetts of the other hellish document we had to produce 🙈! 

And here comes the next one… 

 

I thankfully have scrapes of paper, doodles and notes which do actually document what the hell I was doing, ive just got to find some semblance of order in it!!! 

 

Back on it…

Well monday was a success even if it was a horrible day waiting for my 5 min talk…being the last one to do it 😖!  

  
Great feedback from tutors and the guest critics, which has really given me a boost. Now on with the technical drawing stuff, much of which I have roughed out already! Only the A3 progress document to pull together from scratch 😖😖😖!!!  

Lighting…

One of my last sheets to do was an additional lighting overlay. I took 4 of my sequential sketches and overlaid a black later to show what the lighting would look like throughout my scheme.

4 sketches later and with varying success you start to get a feel for the scheme 👍