A packed lecture theatre at Imperial College yesterday for the SGD Autumn Conference, titled 'Heavenly Gardens in Hellish Places'. Five inspirational speakers throughout the day addressed the problems they have encountered in creating gardens and landscapes in difficult circumstances. Exposed roof gardens, huge projects in the US, gardens for large estates and for degraded urban environments were all covered. Lisa Delplace from Oehme, van Sweden discussed her work on the Chicago Botanic Garden, amongst others, with reference to her sources of inspiration in the mood and mutability of the natural landscape - the work, on an enormous scale, beautifully validated her approach. Nigel Dunnett showed what is possible in socially and environmentally compromised city-centre sites - his work on low maintenance meadow plantings to enrich the urban experience while mitigating the effects of unpredictably heavy rainfall shows that the evocation of 'wilderness' is something that can be achieved in the least promising sites. If not botanically accurate as meadows the plantings have far greater importance as areas for recreation and amenity, bringing the pleasure of wonderful landscapes to all. Anthony Paul closed the day with images of his iconic creations around the world - often in precarious situations and under difficult climatic conditions. I was thrilled that he used some of my photos (see above) of his own garden in Surrey in his final slide of the day.
There was a good turnout fom this year's Oxford College of Garden Design diploma course, there to see Sarah Naybour awarded the Student Designer of the Year prize - and to do the essential networking of course!