what fun it was listening to annie guilfoyle at terrain!

IMG_6604Terrain is doing these gardening-centric events.  Yesterday at Terrain Devon Yard was “What Makes Your Garden Great with Annie Guilfoyle”.

Annie Guilfoyle is an amazing British horticulturist. An award-winning designer and an RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal winner. For 18 years she was the director of Garden Design at KLC School of Design at Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, where she was instrumental in establishing their highly acclaimed garden design courses.

IMG_6602Those who know me well know that I am a total garden geek especially when it comes to my British horticulturalists.   Like did you know Monty Don was rumored to have been at Chanticleer recently? How I would have loved to have even just watched him work!

My list of UK citizens I would love to listen to lecture on all things gardening are Monty Don, Adam Frost, Alan Titchmarsh, Joe Swift, Carol Klein, Helen Dillon, and Annie Guilfoyle.  Yesterday I got to listen to and meet Annie!!  I knew who she was because of her garden course at Chanticleer, which is as follows (and on my to do list except WOW it is really EXPENSIVE):

Course Description:

Learn about designing gardens with highly acclaimed British designer, Annie Guilfoyle. This carefully crafted course will guide you through each stage of the design process, beginning with the fundamentals of surveying and site analysis. Followed by essential techniques of how to initiate the design, where to find inspiration, and how to develop a creative concept into a stunning garden.

Together with the Chanticleer staff, Annie will focus on ways of achieving imaginative ideas for hardscaping, along with how to perfect dazzling planting combinations and realize innovative designs for original furniture and sculpture.

This course is ideally suited to students of garden and landscape design and people working in the garden industry, or for those who simply want to redesign their own garden capturing the essence of Chanticleer under Annie’s guidance. The course includes practical studio sessions, lectures and demonstrations, garden walks, and critical analysis. Annie will be including up-to-date information and inspiration about what is happening on the UK garden scene.

Price:

$675.00 – Price includes garden admission, breakfast and lunch each day, and an opening reception.

To be honest, I know how to make my garden come to life and evolve, but the ability to be able to learn from an expert like Annie would be priceless.  And it would give me a more formal background to what has been instinctive and trial and error in my garden through a lifetime of just loving to garden.

IMG_6614.JPGTerrain had these Coffee + Conversation garden talks, and launched an additional series of garden “guidance” with each conversation led by a horticulturalist. Each Garden Guide conversation they do will feature an esteemed speaker in the horticultural world who will give tips, tricks, and valuable plant knowledge across a variety of garden topics. Each session will focus on a new area of exploration. And did I mention to be able to hear Annie was only $5??? (And they are having an awesome one in Glen Mills in August but I digress.)

So I was like a kid waiting for Christmas yesterday and Annie did not disappoint.  I do not know what it is about British horticultural experts but they are so NICE and welcoming.  And they share their knowledge without artifice. It is so refreshing.

Annie opened with what she was about: Worked at Hampton Court for years. Did a garden at Chelsea while a student. Did a BBC show small town gardens. Wears several hats and is also a garden writer. Teaches garden courses and loves teaching.  She judges garden shows all over the world as well.

Other things she said which resonated with me include: You can’t be a garden designer without being a gardener first.  In that vein, her students were sent to work in nurseries and gardens to learn.

Annie said gardens are a sanctuary from what is going on in this world. How true is that? It’s like I say everything is better after I have been in the garden digging in the dirt. Annie also believes the arts and horticulture have a strong connection.

IMG_6626When it comes to garden design, Annie is old school. She feels you can’t design gardens without looking at the proportions. People should draw out a garden plan or build a little model- don’t use computer software. So I guess my caveman like plot plans over the years are a step in the right direction after all!! (Yes I have notebooks here and there with little rudimentary sketches.)

IMG_6617So how do you make a great garden?  What are your influences? Architecture? Other gardens? Other gardeners?  Look at the links between architecture and landscape design and remember art, architecture, and gardens are inextricably linked.  Remember that landscapes should influence you.

Like many of us not so expert gardeners, Annie Guilfoyle believes a garden can change how people behave, and how they view the world.  Gardens are happy places. Relaxing places. Contemplative places. Natural classrooms.

One thing that Annie remarked on was Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC. I have been there but literally not for decades. Harvard owns it apparently? I do not know that I realized that when I was more frequently in Washington DC many years ago but I was sad to learn last night that the gardens are in disrepair? They were so beautiful, how can that be? I mean come on it’s Harvard and they have the money, right?

Sigh. That’s the thing about gardens sometimes in the USA. They aren’t treasured enough.

I have a bucket list of garden things I want to do. Among them is hit the flower shows in England and tour great gardens and small gardens and wander through UK plant nurseries which apparently for the most part have show gardens so customers can see the plants in situ.

IMG_6646Annie explained she  doesn’t have a definitive style per se,  she designs for her clients’ sensibilities.  She also believes focal points are an important concept in garden design and they draw you in.

IMG_6632Annie also stressed it was important to celebrate all elements of the garden, even the functional bits like sheds. She apparently has a love affair going on with this enclosure for her trash cans!

Annie encouraged us to create a sense of journey in a garden. And if you aren’t designing your own garden by yourself make sure you take interest in it so the end result is your personal vision.

She gave us a list of things to follow:

  • Be original
  • Key design ingredients should include:
    Sanctuary
    Respite
    Simplicity
    Inviting
    Sustainability
    Structure
    Vertical and Horizontal gardening
    Focal Points
    Somewhere to sit
    Details.
  • Art in the garden is a wonderful thing.

Annie also suggested we do our garden homework- where will the plants go? Know the ideal environment for the plants you plant. And don’t forget the structure. Structure as in not just flowers, don’t forget  shrubs and trees and seasons. (You know how I have said the late garden writer and American horticulturalist Suzy Bales influenced my desire to have a garden for all seasons.

Her final advice? Don’t be afraid to be individual in your garden. And how true is that? You garden for yourself first.  Annie also reccomended a book on landscape design written by John Brookes called The Book of Garden Design. I picked up a copy of this inexpensively on Amazon.

I had the best time last night and my inner gardening geek was on overload.  And the space at Terrain was so lovely besides.  And the staff at Terrain are so welcoming. After the talk I got to meet Annie and some other gardeners and wander around Terrain outside.  They are so creative with their plantings especially containers that it is truly inspirational.

I look forward to more lectures in this series and I hope I get to listen to more talks by Annie Guilfoyle some day.  She is the kind of person you would want for a friend.

Thank you Terrain at Devon Yard for the opportunity you gave all of us!!

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