The View From Outside

-Why it might be a good idea to employ a garden designer.

If you follow me on twitter, (and if not why not?) you may know that I have had an artist working in the garden. Her brief is to produce me a painting, drawing or pastel which says something about the garden. My garden is at an interesting crux in its life and I thought this should be recorded.


Of course I can draw plans and axonometric visualisations as part of my trade. I am a garden designer. But, my talent is to put a garden in place on the ground. I am also a plantsman, a gardener and as keen on all aspects of garden implementation as I am about the drawing. I thought this should be recorded by an artist, whose sole object is to get the garden and something of my character on paper or canvas.

Partly because of this project therefore and my professional interest in garden design I was interested to come across the following punt on the ether the other day. Here’s the gist:

Why employ a garden designer? A few quick lessons, (to be paid for of course), and you could do just as well yourself. In fact you could do better. Designers are only in your garden for a couple of hours. You are in your garden all the time. You know yourself better than they do. Don’t worry if you can’t visualize it-just have a go! A little advice, just put a few plants together, and if you like the look, just go for it. Enough! Its rubbish, right?

Of course, Tim Richardson, a controversial and spirited garden and landscape critic, recently opined that most of the modern iconic gardens have been made by non professionals. But, exactly how many gardens does this iconic status apply to out of the many thousands of gardens created every year? How many people have the imagination, the vision and if we are honest the taste to create such a garden?

Leaving aside the issue of their longevity as bona fide icons, which is questionable, wouldn’t these iconic gardens have been created by keen knowledgeable amateurs over a long period of time?  Haven’t they also been created by that rare gem, the natural untrained designer? Do most aspiring Sunday painters pretty immediately produce works which equate with those of Vermeer and Picasso? Obviously not!

Aside from expecting a work of art in my garden painting project it is as important to me that I am seeking her outsider view. Will I be in the painting or absent? Will she draw my topiary, paint the little wood or in delicious chalky pastels immortalise summer in my ‘serendipitous border’? I am intrigued to find out. The vision is hers. My not knowing is part of the experience.

What you pay a garden designer for is the spark, the outsider’s view, the ‘outside the box’ thinking. You pay for a designed and stylish garden, swiftly conceived as an entirety. It will accord with your brief and deal with all the nasty unpleasant little bits which we all have and are tempted to draw a veil over!

I am also expecting technical expertise from the artist – not just visionary skill, but mastery of paint and so forth. You also can pay for the know how to achieve the actual garden itself, the contacts for the implementation, and the monitoring of the work. Your garden will then be swiftly implemented rather than muddled through! You have the comfort of the designer’s and the contractor’s training, qualifications and experience, their reputation and their insurance!

As with my artist, your confidence is part of the package.

We are for the record in your garden for a lot more than 2 hours – it takes that long just to walk round it with you and take the brief! We then…… No, that will be a future post!

Enough said?