Is it really a choice

between this








Read on!

I came across a good one the other day! In the Garden Design Journal for September.

Tim Richardson on his Comment Page: Are ‘real gardeners’ somehow deluding themselves in their continuing contempt of garden design?

Discussing the great ‘cultural’ divide between the designers and gardeners of gardens:

he says ‘real gardeners’ are ‘antagonistic and aggressive about garden design.’

But, apparently he thinks it never happens the other way around. 

So I haven’t attended a design event where gardeners were described as ‘the enemy’ and as having ‘stolen gardens’?

So I have not encountered people in the garden world to whom the very word ‘plant’ is anathema and any discussion of the technicalities of the plant side of design is regarded as the conversational equivalent of eviscerating your own mother?

So one key designer has not admitted to enjoying winding up horticulturalists and suggests that a lot of his fellows do that too?

It all depends whom you have encountered and how stinging the comments are.

But should we extrapolate so very much from them? 

Because there is one problem with TR’s neat little scenario: Me.

Just suppose that you combine both?

I do:

I have formally trained in horticulture and was, until five years ago, Head Gardener of a Botanic Garden.

I have trained formally in garden design and now design gardens.

So I am both.

Am I at war with myself? Do I have a split personality? Don’t answer that! 

But I can’t be that unusual surely? And neither am I! My design partner has the same background. The two colleagues I am in touch with from my design college days have also. Are we all so unusual? No, I am sure there are lots of us. 

And ‘real’ gardeners? What are they? What is a ‘real designer’?

As designers don’t we all garden in some way or if we don’t and we are any good at all at our discipline, we surely know about it. 

As gardeners don’t we all design in some way, whether formally trained or not, successful or not? 

TR in his comments on iconic gardens has already admitted the huge impact of untrained design on UK gardens. So what is all this great divide? 

Is it a little bit of a posery debate? A status enhancing ruckus? Does it mask insecurities and inadequacies? 

Is it even there at all, except in the minds of people who like to extrapolate and pontificate rather than do? 

Tim Richardson finds his answer in the class structure, ownership of land, the idea that garden design is thought by the landed to be ‘essentially vulgar’. 

Is that the problem? Or is it another one altogether? Is it less a case of hereditary money and stations. Or more a case of supposed intellect versus people who get their hands dirty. 

Perhaps it is the pseudo intellectuals who are trying to steal gardens! 

Fences and labels. The designers, the gardeners, the horticulturalists, the garden makers, the landscape architects. 

Why does there have to be this big divide? 

No, we should all be on the same side and then we could combine to convince the world of the real issues involving gardens.