Olympic Park MeadowsThis weekend (10th November) I went to the autumn conference of the Society of Garden Designers, of which I am a pre-registered member. The theme was ‘A Perfect Union: the marriage of horticulture and architecture’. The speakers included the American designer Andrea Cochran FASLA and John Brookes MBE, FSGD. Andrea’s innovative approach, using a restrained palette, perfectly links the modern architecture she works with, to the surrounding countryside, whilst John’s very varied work equally demonstrates the importance for us as designers to design according to the environment and setting, including the architecture. This is why I strive to be adaptable and flexible, to respond imaginatively to each situation and client, rather than having a pre-conceived style of garden I want to achieve.

Dr Nigel Dunnet, one of the designers of the London Olympic Park, was amongst the other speakers at the conference. Nigel developed the concept of ‘Pictorial Meadows’ and aims to produce an immersive and uplifting experience of his work, where people interact emotionally and physically with their environment. He aimed, in the conference, to “show how beautiful, dramatic and sustainable planting can be used on and around buildings, and in the heart of urban environments to produce landscapes that have extraordinary public appeal.” The need to bring more green spaces into our cities has never been greater, both for the sake of biodiversity, the environment (for instance by reducing problems of flooding), and for the benefit of people’s health and welfare. I am very much looking forward to visiting the Olympic Park next summer, as I wasn’t able to in 2012.

At the conference I bought a number of books. I am currently reading the fabulous book by David L. Culp, ‘The Layered Garden’, whose passion for plants and gardening takes the reader on a journey through the year, each season bringing its own joys, from the snowdrops, hellebores, witch hazels, cornuses (dogwoods) and winter aconites of winter, through to the magical colours of what he calls ‘the fall’. I particularly love the collection of hellebores he has bred called the ‘Brandywine Hybrids’.

Photo: Rex Features

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