Society of Garden Designers announces winners at the SGD Awards 2017

Company: Society of Garden Designers (SGD)
  • Judges’ Award
  • Grand Award
  • Roof Garden Award
  • Large Residential Award

The Society of Garden Designers has announced the winners of the SGD Awards 2017 at its sixth annual award ceremony in London. 

Robert Myers MSGD was presented with the most prestigious award of the night, winning the Grand Award for The Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace; while Matt Keightley MSGD won three awards including the distinguished Judges’ Award for his eastern-inspired Tyre Hill House Garden; and visionary Spanish designer Fernando Caruncho was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.  

In total 17 designers were presented with awards across 19 categories including accolades for the best Large Residential Garden, Healing & Learning Garden, International Garden and Roof Garden. 

The Grand Award, the most celebrated award of the evening, went to Robert Myers for a contemporary playscape created for the Historic Royal Palace at Hampton Court.  The garden, designed as an imaginative and playful new garden for families and inspired by the rich history of the palace, was described as ‘truly magical’ by the judging panel, who called the design ‘ambitious, innovative and cohesive’ and said it was ‘full of surprises and fun.’ The garden was also named best Public or Commercial Outdoor Space, with the judges describing it as an ‘exciting, generous and inspirational project’.

There was a unanimous decision to award Tyre Hill House Garden by Matt Keightley MSGD the Judges' Award.   Inspired by the east and incorporating a series of stunning geometric pools surrounded by a mix of cloud pruned taxus, pinus hedging and bonsai-form pines, mixed with magnolias and irises to provide year-round interest, the panel said it had ‘a clarity, simplicity and purity that was simply beautiful’, calling it ‘contemporary, peaceful and very, very accomplished.’

The garden also won the Planting Award and was a joint winner in the Medium Residential category with Ian Kitson FSGD who, alongside Matt, picked up the award for his Estuary Garden designed to reflect the tidal movements and sand patterns of the River Conwy, over which the garden looks.  The Estuary Garden also received the Hardscape Award for what the judges described as a ‘bold, ambitious and beautifully constructed’ scheme. 

Returning to the winner’s podium after winning the SGD's Future Designer Award in 2015, Emily Erlam won the Roof Garden Award for a stunning scheme on one of London’s largest roof terraces.   An outright winner in the category, the garden is designed around a series of multi-layered steel planting systems dividing the space up into ‘rooms’ and filled with Mediterranean planting which the judges said ‘creates a wonderful feeling of calm.’ 

Elsewhere, Jane Brockbank MSGD and Sue Townsend MSGD were named joint winners of the Garden Jewel Award while Helen-Elks-Smith MSGD won the Small Residential category for her Harbour Garden on the banks of Christchurch Harbour in Dorset.   Newcomer to the awards Anne Windsor triumphed in the Big Ideas, Small budget category for an inspiring courtyard at the centre of a four-story apartment building in Manchester, which the judges described as a modern take on the classic inner courtyard gardens found in Paris and Rome, and which transformed a previously dead space into a flourishing garden. 

Host for the evening Ann-Marie Powell MSGD had to step aside from her duties to receive the Healing or Learning Award for her inspirational Chestnut Tree House Garden at a children’s hospice in Arundel.  Incorporating a woodland walk, spaces for therapeutic play and a ‘hanging’ garden, the judges said it was ‘an absolutely fantastic garden’ describing it as ‘gentle, soft and magical.’  

Other awards won on the night included James Basson MSGD who won the International Award and Debbie Roberts of Acres Wild who picked up the Large Residential Award

The Historical Garden Restoration Award was won by Christian Sweet MSGD for Villa Balbiano, a 16th century mansion on the shores of Lake Como.  Building on the surviving framework from the last major redesign in the 1960s, Sweet created a series of  ‘rooms’ including an ornamental vegetable garden, a rose garden, a garden of mixed-shrub borders and a shaded vine-walk to breathe new life into the gardens.  The judges said it was ‘a beautiful restoration demonstrating excellent attention to detail and a beautiful finish.’ 

In other categories, Carolyn Willitts won the Paper Landscapes Award and Fiona Stephenson MSGD won the People’s Choice Award – the only award in the competition determined by public vote.  

SGD Chair, Sarah Morgan said: “The SGD Awards are all about celebrating the very best in landscape and garden design and recognising the incredible talent being brought to bear across the industry.  It’s clear from tonight just how much fantastic 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
Student Sheila Jack, who came to garden design after a successful career as an editorial Art Director on US Vogue and UK Harper’s Bazaar, was the undisputed winner in the Student Design – Domestic category winning the award for two of her submitted projects.  Meanwhile,  Nicky Burridge, from the London College of Garden Design, won the award for Student Design – Commercial for a project the judges said ‘perfectly complimented the façade of the building.’

The 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 international landscape designer and philosopher Fernando Caruncho.    

The SGD Council said: “Since the creation of his first garden in the early 1980s Fernando Caruncho has designed timeless gardens both in Spain and internationally with a simplicity and lightness of touch using geometry, light, water and connection to the wider environment at the heart of his projects. Fernando is an inspirational philosopher, landscape architect and gardener who continues to inspire with his philosophical approach to garden creation and the SGD is delighted to present him with this year's Lifetime Achievement award.”

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