Topics announced for SGD spring conference

Topics have been announced for the Society of Garden Designers (SGD) spring conference on 21st April, 2018. With a distinguished line-up of top industry speakers from the USA, UK and Sweden, the conference will explore the art of understatement in garden and landscape design.

‘A Light Touch’ will see designers share examples of their work to illustrate how landscapes can be crafted with minimal intervention, by drawing on a site’s natural features and embracing the wider landscape. Speakers will guide delegates through their techniques and processes to help explain the creative thinking behind such an approach.

From the USA, Julie Bargmann, world-renowned for her work regenerating neglected sites into renewed landscapes, will address the topic ‘The Art of Restraint‘, posing the question ‘why wouldn’t one always use a light touch?’

Also visiting from the USA, American environmentalist and plantsman Rick Darke will use the topic ‘Design and Nature of Contradiction’ to explore design models informed by the art of observation, illustrating how his work blends ecology, horticulture and geography in the design and stewardship of living landscapes.

Michael Vergason, from Virginia, USA, will focus on the topic ‘Heavy Lifting/Light Touch‘ to explain that a landscape that appears natural to the untrained eye often requires heavy lifting and surgical precision and that in actuality the project is highly designed with careful, deliberate consideration to the balance of restoring ecological systems, fostering human experience and revealing the essence of the place.

From Sweden, acclaimed landscape architect Ulf Nordfjell will address the topic ‘Design based on Knowledge about the Past & Present crucially informs Site Potential‘ exploring why knowledge about the past is essential to understanding the present of a site and its surroundings.

Dr Catherine Heatherington FSGD, from the UK, has chosen the topic ‘The ‘Do Little’ Approach: revealing landscape change in post-industrial sites‘, to discuss how landscape designers can approach the development of derelict, post-industrial landscapes and re-imagine them in more subtle ways. Catherine will draw on examples of all sizes and types and from as far afield as Australia and the USA as well as closer to home.

The conference will be chaired by Dan Lobb MSGD, whose own work, places environmental considerations at its heart with material and plant choices ensuring local biodiversity is improved with each project.

The Conference will be held at the Royal Geographical Society, London, SW7 on Saturday 21st April, 2018. For more information and for ticket information please visit:

Picture credits; pictured banner above: Combs-Point ©Michael Vergason; middle: ©Rick Darke