It’s hard to believe that it’s already a month since the Society of Garden Designers held its fifth Annual Awards ceremony. With more entries than ever before and tickets for the event in high demand, nearly 400 people gathered at the Landmark Hotel in London for a celebration that lasted into the early hours of the next day. Host Joe Swift and the Award Sponsors revealed winners in 22 categories, demonstrating a wonderful range of landscape designs and designers at all stages of their careers
As SGD Council Member responsible for organising the Awards process, it was a personal highlight for me to spend time with both John Brookes MBE FSGD who received a Special SGD Award and also Christopher Bradley-Hole FSGD who received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Each of these inspirational designers have influenced me significantly throughout my own landscape design career. In addition, one of the stand-out aspects of the whole evening for me was the evident passion, enthusiasm and energy for beautiful landscape designs that permeate our profession. This was made very clear by Richard Sneesby from the Judging Panel. I felt that Richard’s words, borrowed here (thanks Richard!), really captured the positive influence a garden space can have on bringing people together and how gardens act as a setting for our lives:
We have seen many designers enter gardens for the first time and the quality has been exceptional. All the shortlisted gardens and winners have collaborated with other professions to create beautiful places with exceptional attention to detail, and many with exquisite flourishes. They have squeezed ingenious solutions into tiny spaces and created vast gardens which have become part of the wider landscape…
The photographs of completed gardens that we have seen tonight are gorgeous – but most don’t contain any people. We tend to visually capture spaces to reveal design ideas, layouts, patterns, textures and colours, but, in doing so, we miss seeing them as living spaces – places which act as a setting for our lives and places which have the power to bring people together.
Gardens do and must bring people together. Not only when completed, but also during their conception.
Richard’s comments about the contrast between ‘space’ and ‘place’ were particularly apt as he went on to present the Judges’ Award to Dan Lobb MSGD, Winner of the Designing for Community Spaces Award for the Breaker’s Yard in Hackney, east London. This 5-year project has resulted in a much-enjoyed urban setting and edible garden.
I left the Landscape Hotel next day feeling (despite lack of sleep and *slight* headache) very positive about the future for high-quality landscape design. Since then, the SGD has secured sponsorship from various organisations for next years’ Awards, including CED Stone Group as Headline Sponsor. In the next month, I will hand over my role as organiser to Cassandra Crouch MSGD who I know will do an excellent job in taking everything forward (thanks Cassandra!!). To close, I urge any of you designers out there to think about potential award-winning landscape designs in your own portfolios. Visit www.sgdawards.com to find out more about entering for 2017. For a peek into what the judges will be looking for, visit my blog about last year’s Awards process: ‘The Secrets of Successful Garden Design’.