Chelsea is nothing to do with Garden Design by Rupert Butcher.

June 5, 2013

in Articles, Chelsea 2013 Competition

Post image for Chelsea is nothing to do with Garden Design by Rupert Butcher.

Rupert Butcher takes issue with the relevance of Chelsea (and maybe even the RHS?) to garden design or gardening in his piece for the Chelsea 2013 thinkingardens competition.

Anne Wareham, editor



Chelsea is nothing to do with gardening or garden design, by Rupert Butcher.

Chelsea is a piece of fantasy, it can be a lovely fantasy or as generally this year a bit underwhelming overall.  It has however, nothing to do with the reality of garden design and as someone who is a qualified garden designer, I’m a bit fed up – putting it mildly – that neither the RHS or the Society of Garden Designers and I’m a member of both (membership generally being nothing more useful than an expensive magazine subscription, particularly in the case of SGD)  don’t do more to try and educate the public about what it is that garden designers and professional gardeners can bring on an everyday level to a  garden. Last month had National Gardening Week, surely a good time to raise this awareness and yet nothing from either society.

It’s not all about complete makeovers/designs that cost a fortune any more than being a gardener is just about weeding and mowing lawns and yet this is the perception the majority of the public have.  As a nation, despite a contrary image, we simply don’t value anyone offering horticultural services.

Designers are going to be too expensive and just give you something wacky that they think you should have and gardeners are expected to sweep the paths and live on wages that most other tradesmen would laugh at.

Whilst I find the idea of the RHS’s latest campaign to “save the horticulturist” fine in principle, it is no wonder that many young people are not interested in entering the field as a career when it is seen as a world of polar opposites where at one end it is totally exclusive and vastly expensive and at the other it presents a career choice for those who can’t do anything else and are expected to get by on next to nothing.  It is hard enough for those of us who are not the chosen few and already trying to make a living at it, why would anyone else enter this world given the current state of affairs?

Rupert Butcher 

website .. blog

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Tristan Gregory June 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Without Chelsea many people’s exposure to gardens would cease altogether. It is possible that in the peace of a post Chelsea world we who practice would find the economics even more challenging. Then again the whole tooth grindingly hideous spectacle with its loose money, meagre talents and miniscule charms probably repells potential visitors and customers in their hundreds of thousands.

I think I’d probably risk it.

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