A first-class line-up of speakers from the worlds of garden design, research and horticulture has been announced for the SGD Spring Conference on 27th April exploring the provocatively titled topic: ‘Sex in the Garden – flowers, fruit & foraging’.
Speaking at the Royal Geographical Society in London, speakers will include fragrance & sensory research scientist Emma Desmier, French ecologist and nurseryman Olivier Filippi, naturalistic garden designer Noel Kingsbury, world-renowned rose expert Michael Marriot, Henrik Sjöman, scientific curator of the Gothenburg Botanical Garden, and the inspirational garden leaders behind West Dean Gardens, Jim Buckland & Sarah Wain.
The speakers will explore improved strategies in plantsmanship; species selection for our changing climate, biodiversity and maintenance regimes, as well as revealing their strategies for extending the gardening season based on the most reliable, spectacular and valued flowering and fruiting plants.
Tackling the topic head on, Emma Desmier, will address the conference with a glimpse at the relationship between sex and scent in the human world, before going on to explore the relationship between scent and sex in the plant world, examining in detail how plants lure their pollinators with scent, and explaining the complexity of the aromas produced. Sharing her extensive knowledge, drawn from years working in fragrance and olfactory research and development, Emma will look at how an understanding of scent can be harnessed to enrich planting design and the experience of scent in the garden.
An expert on the fragrance of roses, Michael Marriott, one of the world’s most respected rose experts will also join the line-up, sharing his encyclopaedic knowledge of the species to explain why roses are one of the most garden-worthy of all plants, how to look after them and how to incorporate them into all areas and styles of garden.
Noel Kingsbury, one of the world’s most influential innovators, writers and teachers in the fields of gardening and planting design, is widely credited for helping launch the current wave of interest in naturalistic planting design alongside Piet Oudolf with whom he has collaborated widely.
In his talk, titled ‘The Whole Plant - beyond the blob on the planting plan’, Noel will explain why we need to take a more rounded view of the plants we use, understanding plant architecture, lifecycles and their uses both as food and materials, to create truly sustainable gardens.
Speakers from overseas will also join the line-up, including Oliver Filippi who, with his wife Clara, runs a specialist nursery in the South of France dedicated to drought-tolerant plants. Filippi, who has become something of a horticultural celebrity for his knowledge of dry-climate plants and his naturalistic approach to gardening, will explain his blueprint for future-proof gardening, inspired by the natural beauty of the Mediterranean garrigue. Also from outside the UK, Henrik Sjöman, a Senior Researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Scientific Curator at Gothenburg Botanical Garden, will explore a range of flowering shrubs and fruiting trees and explain how the flowers, fruit, wood and leaves that woody plants produce, can be understood in terms of the unique physiological investment different species make in order to safeguard their development.
Finally, from West Dean Gardens in West Sussex, Jim Buckland & Sarah Wain, the dynamic team behind the 100-acre garden’s world-famous restoration, will address the topic "Congress and Cornucopia – The innocent fruitfulness of West Dean Gardens” explaining how they believe, at its core, a gardens' function should be as a place of harmony, tranquillity and sensory delight where visitors can escape the world. Recounting the story of West Dean’s restoration over the last 28 years, Jim and Sarah will explain what makes a garden bountiful and beautiful.
The SGD autumn conference will be chaired by Arit Anderson garden designer, writer and presenter on BBC Two's Gardeners' World.
Discounted ‘Early Bird’ tickets are available until 11th March 2019. Visit the SGD website to read more and book tickets online.