“I am often asked what got me interested in garden design. This is a question that I have always struggled to answer, since there was no lightbulb moment of sudden realisation. I suppose instead I’d like to blame a cocktail of influences in my life.
I spent a lot of my childhood summers at my Gran’s house in a small Gloucestershire village. She would often plonk my brother and me in the car and run us down to her allotment. We absolutely loved helping to harvest her incredible array of fruit and vegetables, which we would bring home to rustle up some really tasty dishes.
More recently, my Mum got diagnosed with the gardening bug. I distinctly remember eating supper on my lap in the living room, since her plant ‘babies’ were nestled in their seed trays and occupied the entirety of the dining room table. In the spring, you could hardly move for the pots of seedlings scattered about the house – they’ve even been found in the shower. In a nutshell, my Gran and my Mum’s infatuations with their vegetable gardens is partially blame for my adoration of gardens and outdoor spaces.
Fast forward a few years, I finished university with a degree in English and started a job at a PR firm. I had never been one to sit at a desk all day. In fact, while writing my dissertation, my bedroom had never been so tidy, nor my car so clean, or my dog as well exercised. I began to yearn for a career that would allow me to express myself creatively.
Frustrated, I decided to go back to the drawing board and clear my head. Having always been curious about working outdoors, I took a summer job at a local plant nursery. I hadn’t begun to think of this as a career move, until one day I assisted on a planting job at a beautiful garden in Midhurst. Prior to this experience I don’t think I was even aware that garden design existed as a career.
When I got home that evening I hurried to my laptop and began researching colleges offering qualifications in garden design. I came across a few that sounded interesting, particularly KLC School of Design, and their open day happened to be that weekend! From that day on, my life became a complete whirlwind, but it is by far the best decision I have ever made.
I don’t think I could have ever prepared for how incredibly demanding the course was, however I was more than up for the challenge. In the past 11 months I must have burnt more than my fair share of midnight oil. I’d spend days in my PJs from dawn ‘til dusk huddled over my laptop. I certainly feel well prepared for any of the pressures that I am to face in the industry.
What made the course for me was the brilliant tutors and the fantastic guest speakers. Their enthusiasm, inspiration, passion and insight were infectious and captivating. My peers are a particularly motivating and creative group of people, and I have left with some great friendships, making the experience all the more positive. I am pleased that the horticulture is a close-knit industry, since there is a high chance of me bumping into them down the road.
The projects set by KLC were fascinating yet challenging. My personal favourites include a historical restoration project in Hampstead, and a therapeutic garden at the Royal Hospital of Neuro-disability. These assignments gave us plenty of scope to express ourselves creatively. I loved immersing myself in the topics and the research. If I have come away having learnt anything about garden design, it is that a strong concept will inform every aspect of a design.
The cherry of top of the cake was bagging myself a job with Jamie at Butterworth Horticulture. Planting design is timeless yet ever-changing, and in my opinion an absolutely fascinating subject with so much to learn and experiment with. I am delighted that I am going to be doing it for a living! I’ve had such a fantastic year and I am so excited for what is yet to come.”
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