Winners have been announced at the Society of Garden Designers seventh annual award ceremony where 18 designers and two landscape design companies were presented with awards in front of nearly 400 guests.
The most prestigious award, the Grand Award, was presented to Marian Boswall MSGD for her Reighton Wood Garden, a large contemporary garden in Kent with abundant planting and dense borders which the judges described as ‘absolutely stunning’. Adolfo Harrison MSGD won the coveted Judges' Award for his Barcelona-inspired courtyard garden and revolutionary garden designer Piet Outdolf was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Marian Boswall’s garden, which the judges also said demonstrated ‘sumptuous planting with texture, mood, atmosphere and playfulness’, was also named best Large Residential Garden alongside Robert Myers MSGD who was joint winner in the category for his walled garden in rural Buckinghamshire.
There was a unanimous decision to award the Judges' Award to Adolfo Harrison MSGD for his creative approach to a small courtyard in West London. Including a pergola, a corten steel water cascade and a seating area set amongst lush green planting, the garden was described as ‘fresh, new and different’ by the judges who said the design ‘creates a wonderful atmosphere’ and offers ‘a welcome antidote to formulaic city gardens.’ The garden also won the Garden Jewel Award.
Newcomer to the awards, Dutch designer Noël van Mierlo won the International Award for a stunning Japanese-inspired garden in the Netherlands which was also voted winner of the People’s Choice Award – the only award in the competition determined by public vote. The garden, in which Japanese elements combine with a modern Western aesthetic, incorporates a Japanese teahouse designed as a refuge for meditation, meandering paths to encourage mindfulness and materials inspired by wabi-sabi principles of imperfection and the beauty of the ageing process. The judges called it ‘brave, accomplished, well-balanced and aspirational.’
Tony Woods MSGD picked up two awards in the Roof Garden and Public or Commercial Space categories for his Jam Factory and Merchant Square Floating Pocket gardens respectively. The latter transformed a disused area in West London into a series of floating gardens connected by walkways and including a deck area for seating, two large family friendly lawns and extensive planters, which the judges called ‘a wonderful floating oasis’ and said was ‘an amazingly clever idea that could be applied to any city.'
Returning to the podium for the second year running, Helen Elks-Smith MSGD won the Medium Residential category for her contemporary family garden in Hampshire while James Scott MSGD from The Garden Company Ltd was presented with the Small Residential Award. Also triumphing, Martha Krempel took home the award in the ‘Big Ideas, Small Budget’ category for her Horse Shoe Bend garden, a small walled garden in London inspired by Arizona’s Painted Desert and Pointalist art, where an indoor garden of cacti and grasses spills out into wildlife friendly planting outside in hues of coral pink, pale yellow and mauve.
Elsewhere Rachel Reynolds and Sam Westcott were named joint winners in the Fresh Designer category for designers who have been practising for less than five years; Landscape Company Bowles & Wyer, led by John Wyer FSGD, won the Healing, Learning or Community Award for one of five courtyard gardens they have designed for Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, and Gavin McWilliam MSGD and Andrew Wilson FSGD picked up the Hardscape Award for the hard landscaping of their Hertfordshire Garden, featuring drystone walls and corten steel windows which the judges said was ‘hugely accomplished, impeccably executed and demonstrated exquisite work’.
The Planting Award was won by Emily Erlam for Tithe Barn, described by the judges as ‘a plant-lovers garden demonstrating pure plantsperson talent’. Designed for maximum impact and year round drama, the garden, in the flat lands of north Norfolk, features exuberant planting around a series of spaces including an outdoor living room and kitchen, a courtyard and a rain garden.
Other awards on the night included Paul Hensey FSGD and Lara Behr who were joint winners in the Paper Landscapes category.
SGD Chair, Sarah Morgan said: “The SGD boasts some of the most talented garden designers in the world and these awards are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and showcase some of their inspirational work. Every year reveals some extraordinary projects and provides us with a visual feast of gardens and landscapes. 2019 has proved to be no different. It is clear from tonight just how much exceptional work is being done within the sector. Each and every one of these awards is richly deserved and I congratulate everyone on their achievements."
The SGD Student Awards
Duncan Cargill, who came to garden design after a career as a creative director in London and New York before graduating from the London College of Garden Design in 2018, was the winner in the Student Design – Domestic category for his Norfolk Flint Garden which the judges said was a ‘sophisticated design presented through wonderful sketches that evoke the landscape beautifully.'
Meanwhile Bob Richmond-Watson, also from the London College of Garden Design, and Michael Ekers, from Writtle University College, were joint winners in the Student Design – Commercial category.
The SGD Lifetime Achievement Award
Other special awards given on the night included the SGD Lifetime Achievement Award – an award granted to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the landscape and garden design profession. The Award, which is gifted by the Council of the Society of Garden Designers, was given to visionary garden designer and world-renowned plantsman Piet Oudolf.
The SGD Council said: "From the age of 25, Piet has made a phenomenal contribution to new ways of thinking on naturalistic planting using grasses and herbaceous plants. Using all the sound principles of good Planting Design, Oudolf’s work sits comfortably in formal and informal settings, town and country, without losing any of the design integrity of structure and balance.
"From the Highline in New York to Pensthorpe Natural Park, from the Wisley borders to Olympic Park, Oudolf’s work is both impressive and intimate. His determination to find out more about his ‘performers’ by opening up a nursery and astutely observing his palette at all stages of development has taken Planting Design to another level of horticultural science and experimentation and has launched a whole new appetite in the industry for a wide range of quality herbaceous plants.
"His plant combinations, brought to life through his seminal books written alongside Noel Kingsbury, have fast-tracked many a fledgling designer to add something quite magical to their projects and made his lifelong research accessible to others. Thank you Piet for your passion and generosity to our industry."
Images of all the winning gardens in the SGD Awards 2019 can be seen at www.sgdawards.com.