Garden Design – 21/22 News roundup by Programme Leader Gill German
After the challenges of 2020 the Garden Design Department is now steadily growing. We had a successful assessment in July with all students passing with good grades and all continuing on to the next unit. It is really exciting having a range of student experience in the Garden Design Department. We have more students finishing current units now and I’m looking forward to their applications for their unit assessments.
We also welcome Jo Murray as our new tutor – Jo has many years’ experience as a practicing garden designer, writer and lecturer, publishing recently in ‘The Alternative Guide to the boroughs of London’ by Open House, London. She has taught in Higher Education for a number of years, lecturing in English Literature, Cultural Studies, and also Academic Skills as she particularly enjoys supporting students throughout the wider learning process. We look forward to some group work with Jo as well as her tutoring role.
One of our course authors and planting specialist, Alexa Ryan-Mills, recently shared with us the joys and tribulations involved in designing a Chelsea Show Garden, whilst sharing her own personal experiences helping to plant the ‘Core Arts Front Garden Revolution’ show garden earlier this summer. Some of our students visited Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows this summer. We are looking forward to welcoming more visiting speakers in the coming months. Group work has varied from Geometry of Shapes to beginner Adobe Creative Suite skills to basic model making.
My own work over the last 6 months has included working in practice on planting design for some rain gardens in Aylesbury and a 1.5km park along the seafront at Hove – both public realm projects, which will hopefully start construction in the next 12 months. Both have their own challenges – trying to locate places amidst underground utilities and finding suitable plants that can tolerate mesic situations for the rain gardens and those that can withstand windy, salt-laden air in chalk soil in Hove. I am also starting planning work for a private client on several acres for a replacement house in the South Down’s National Park. This entails the careful consideration and protection of a very special landscape.
As well as designing space creatively and sympathetically with the architecture of buildings, Garden Designers are now finding themselves working on projects where they have to deal with planning regulations, as well as considering the site conditions and managing client’s expectations. The Garden Design course at OCA seeks to give students a wide-ranging experience and introduction to digital design work as well as hand-drawing. As well as meeting the learning outcomes for the course, we are keen to prepare students for professional practice and employment, as well as being able to respond creatively to the garden or landscapes they encounter.