Good garden design applauded at SGD awards


Ian Smith MSGD and Cleve West MSGD have taken the two most prestigious awards at the Society of Garden Designers (SGD) at Society’s third annual awards ceremony held recently in London.

Ian Smith of Acres Wild, was awarded the most celebrated award of the evening, The Grand Award, for a private garden in Surrey that the judges called ‘a transformational project’ (garden pictured above.)

Devised as a journey through interlinking spaces, the judges said the garden ‘feels composed and perfectly linked and has a period ambience, exhibiting confidence of scale’ and concluded that it was a ‘well executed, integrated design with sharp edges softened by sophisticated planting’. The garden was also named as best Large Residential Garden.


Cleve West’s Horatio’s Garden, (pictured above) created for patients and staff at a spinal treatment centre in Salisbury, was one of the most applauded projects at the ceremony. A garden full of hope and life, it was named best Public or Commercial Outdoor Space and honoured with the People’s Choice Award and a coveted Judges Award. The judges commented: ‘This is what healing gardens should be like; if only they all had a similar design. It has beautiful planting that works with the scale of the building and helps to reconnect people to nature.’ (garden pictured above.)

The newly introduced Historic Garden Restoration award was presented to Dan Pearson MSGD for a garden originally designed by Gertrude Jekyll. The restoration of the garden, for which Dan referenced Jekyll’s written work and surviving archival planting plans, was described by the judges as ‘a sensitive, beautiful and intelligent response to the client’s brief.’


Three awards went to Charlotte Rowe MSGD  for a contemporary garden in Wimbledon – best Medium Residential Garden and awards for Hardscape and Lighting Design. (pictured above © Marianne Majerus) The judges remarked on the good proportions and beautiful site lines of the design, calling the garden a ‘sublime haven’ and concluding that ‘the harmonious design worked perfectly with the house.’

Another new award for 2014 is the Pocket Garden category which was presented to Rosemary Coldstream MSGD, for a riverside garden the judges called ‘very pleasing’ while the Small Residential Garden was won by Sue Townsend MSGD.

There were joint winners in the SGD Student Award category – Joanna Midwinter and Jiyoung Kim. The judges commented that they exhibited in their designs ‘a mature approach in dealing with the complex and challenging sites they were tasked to design.’

Other awards of the night went to Debbie Roberts MSGD in the International category, Rebecca Smith for Small Budget Garden, John Davies in the Future Designer Category, Jackie Herald and Annie Chapman who were joint winners in the Designing for Community Space Award and Andrew Wilson FSGD and Gavin McWilliam who took the Paper Landscape Award – a category that welcomes innovation and experimental ideas.


Plantswoman and author Beth Chatto OBE (pictured below left) was awarded The John Brookes Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding contribution to the landscape and garden design profession. (Garden pictured above © Rachel Warne.)

The award was collected by her granddaughter Julia Boulton. Beth Chatto’s work has centred on a lifetime’s guiding principle that all plants can thrive if grown in the appropriate conditions for their variety and species, regardless of whether the conditions appear to be too shady, too dry, too damp or too sunny.

beth-portrait_2Her planting has been inspired by a naturalistic aesthetic, grouping plants that would naturally grow together in the wild, while pioneering in her designs the importance of shape, architecture, movement and colour.

In many ways her work was well ahead of its time, with her concerns for ecological preservation and diversity now universally adopted.

Philippa O’Brien MSGD, Chair of the SGD said: “Beth Chatto was a natural choice for the John Brookes Lifetime Achievement Award and the SGD Council was unanimous in its eagerness to grant the award to her.

“Beth Chatto has influenced generations of gardeners and garden designers through her passion for plants, her ecological approach and her inspired garden writing, continuing the important cycle of sharing and learning about plants. To a whole generation of garden designers, she is considered the guru of shade planting.”

Commenting on the SGD awards Philippa pointed out that one of the joys of superb garden design is that it looks effortless: “These gardens are however the result of years of training and experience, immense skill and razor sharp attention to detail. I am immensely proud that the SGD is the professional body representing such finely honed talents and we are able to recognize and celebrate these talents at the SGD Awards Ceremony.”

The Society of Garden Designers has been championing excellence in garden design for more than 30 years. It is the only professional association for garden designers in the UK and counts some of the UK’s leading garden and landscape designers among its growing membership.

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