Gardeners, Designers – or Garden Makers? by Anne Wareham

August 18, 2016

in Articles, General Interest

My apologies. This was not the piece I intended to publish this week, and I had no intention of popping up again so soon to annoy you. But today I got annoyed and you know how rare that is.

For many years I had wanted to define and articulate the difference between those people who happily and simply garden, those people who professionally design gardens and those of us who do both at once, continually – usually in the same garden – as amateurs. So I wrote this piece for RHS The Garden –

Garden Makers

It’s that last sentence which is critical. Garden Makers, in my definition, are getting their hands dirty and making their brains hurt continually, and always refining, improving and sweating over their own garden. And sometimes the results of these – amateur – efforts shine.

Think of Special Plants, Derry Watkins’ garden, Kate Patel’s Barn House Garden in Gloucestershire, or Tony Ridler’s masterpiece in Swansea for examples. Or in America, James Golden’s Federal Twist and Pat Webster’s Glen Villa These were not made by professional garden designers. And that, without doubt, leads to significant differences from the professionally designed garden.

I have nothing against professional designers – some of my best friends are professional designers. But they work in a different context under different constraints. I think this distinction is worth noting and even celebrating.

So I’m more than miffed when I come across this press release:

Garden Maker’s Day at The English Gardening School – speakers: Arne Maynard, Diarmuid Gavin and Julian & Isabel Bannerman.

All professional garden designers.

Please could you consider, garden designers, letting us have our own patch? Our own designation?

And does anyone ever think that we garden makers may have more to learn from each other than from these relentlessly paraded professionals? (though count me out there, if it involves public speaking)

Anne Wareham.


Small Portrait Anne Wareham copyright Charles Hawes

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kjeld slot November 21, 2016 at 11:48 am

Hi Anne
I know a farmer, I am a friend with a biologist, my dearest neighbour is a teacher; educated as a scientologist. Some of my other acquaintances are unimployed workers, and a hole bunch of them all, are doing their job very well. Some are not. Some of them are doing their job as amateurs = (meaning friends who love the sector but have no skills). And some are pure amateurs not doing very weel, allthough they are educated (and nice people anyway). Some have talent, – some have not. And that does not depend on their education.

Anyway: I prefer to be operated by an educated Surgeon.
In Denmark wee have a lot of female-gardeners writing books and articles about gardens and gardening. Some of them have the title gardendesigner, without knowing what design means, and most of them are not very good gardendesigners, nor gardenmakers. maybe it´s because the gardens has become “the feminists place”??

I think its a funny thing, that many gardeners in THE-UK are affected so sick about the garden and it seems to me that some are insulted by the fact that gardening is not accepted as a work of art!??? Well, – to this, I think – there is too many people not doing their job well: the lack og talent, no plant knowledge, unsencitive for proportions, materials, texture and so on, – tells me that most of them are pure amateurs or bad professionals. One can be a professional without an education if he or she have a talent. If not: I think they are amateurs in the worst case. Just like bad artists, feckless doctors, miserable teachers, etc. The gardens are full of amaeturs; meaning people making their garden without knowledge. I think it´s one of the mainpurposes with private gardens. Let them do their amateurjob in the gardens and be mery, whether they call them selves gardenmakers, gardendesigners, landscapers, placemakers or whatever.

The result depends on the focus and the talent, – so have your drink at the best waterholes you can find.

Have a nice day.


Mary James August 29, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Wow, so many diverse and interesting comments. Don’t know where to begin… definitely agree on the point about some designers only using a small pallet of plants regardless. In fact remember a Lecturer saying this was the right approach! (Although I didn’t agree). Personally I am a hands on gardener and completely inept at drawings etc. but if pushed will ‘design’ by doing/talking. I have always felt the best Garden designers are those who have actually gardened for some years first, learnt their trade so that they don’t plant an olive in the wrong place. Recently went to a talk by Arne Maynard and he certainly has a sense of place, atmosphere and inate love of many and diverse plants.

Under the WFGA gardening scheme for training gardeners we certainly looked for Gardens headed by Head Gardeners, knowledgeable Gardeners and Owners, the latter including Garden Makers often. All have ever their strengths for training (after fulfilling certain criteria).

Somehow we need to educate the world at large that actually you need a lot of knowledge to be a Garden Maker of any kind and you never stop learning. I wish I had done more Latin at school, would be so useful now!
A good topic Anne, no doubt discussion will go on and on.

annewareham August 29, 2016 at 11:50 pm

Thanks, Mary.

Sheppard Craige August 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Then there are some of us garden makers who are not sure if what we are making are gardens. I refer to my own Bosco della Ragnaia, near Siena. There’s no house, no pool, no flower beds, no borders. What kind of garden is that?
What I have are many VBT’s. (Very Big Trees). Just now in late summer appear small blue blooms under the trees. That’s cerastostigma plumbagoides.

annewareham August 28, 2016 at 11:18 am

It’s a garden, all right, ( – but untouched by professional designers, I believe?

sheppard craige September 2, 2016 at 1:33 pm

Yes, Anne, La Ragnaia is untouched by professional designers. I rely on myself to recognize mistakes, which sometimes takes 10 years to happen.

annewareham September 2, 2016 at 11:19 pm

Your good friend Rory has been a help to me in that regard…. Xxxx

Katherine Crouch August 24, 2016 at 8:27 am

…..during lectures I enjoy at the SGD conferences for the inspirational views from someone else’s ivory tower, usually involving several acres of another continent, while us peasants in the back row mutter “it’s not exactly relevant to Mrs Smith’s garden at 22 Station Road”

…..during a lecture by a very famous garden designer about trees, and particularly acers, I pointed out that one of the slides was of a liquidambar, not an acer. There was a deafening silence. Nobody likes a smartarse.

….after a talk by Nigel Dunnett, many of us wanted to marry him and have his babies.

…..feeling sad that my lovely retired clients who need two level and visible routes (he is three-quarters blind) through a tiny garden cannot afford the most stripped-back of hard landscaping designs with a few concrete slabs, gravel and new plants because the work exceeds their strict budget of £2500. I can do the materials and most of the labour for what they want, but I can’t work for zero profit. I might suggest another solution which they could use but will not prefer, but £2500 is still more money than I can spend on my tiny garden. Those who need outside help the most often cannot afford it and are not able to do the donkey work of hard garden making.

…..and L’Occitane at Chelsea 2017, will your garden look any different to the last two?

Kate Patel August 22, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Sorry it’s taken me so long to get here to leave my thanks for including us in such illustrious company, we’re thrilled and honoured. Not only has Veddw House Garden has been such an inspiration. What Charles and yourself have achieved has been such an inspiration.

Katherine Crouch August 22, 2016 at 8:33 am

I describe myself as a garden designer because that’s what I get paid for. (If I had a double barrelled name and was better connected, digitally and socially, I might earn more). I was happiest when garden making (I now have a small crappy garden at a rented house). As a garden designer I am at my most despondent when I ‘sign off’ the garden after construction and planting. Even with maintenance and development advice in place and possibly a part time gardener, the chances of the garden evolving with increased energy and input are often slim. It’s like giving up a child for adoption – although you can’t possibly keep it, you worry it will be neglected or abused. Still, it is great when clients have new enthusiasm for their transformed garden. I just had to bite my tongue when a new praire border was edged with African marigolds and lobelia to ‘brighten it up a bit’.

annewareham August 22, 2016 at 11:14 am

I was wondering when you’d pop up. Your experience has certainly informed my picture of the nature of garden designing – and thank you for illuminating it. Thank you!

David Feix August 22, 2016 at 1:58 am

Each audience member obviously brings their own wants and expectations to any garden design lecture, and it certainly isn’t “one size fits all”. Even with expertise and years of speaking, who benefits will depend as much on one’s ability to connect with an audience as it does with talent or knowledge. I’ve seen enough presentations where the presenter did not research the background of their audience, and consequently either talked down to or over the heads of their audience.

If the UK trend seems to be a bias towards professional designers having more authority to represent the art form, might not that have as much to do with your feelings on the topic? Professional garden designers who seem most interesting to the public, in my view, need to know how to relate to their audience, exhibit a certain level of poise and distinctive viewpoint, some humor and awareness of past garden traditions to keep me interested. We all have different starting points as well as reactions as to what rubs us the wrong way. I like a garden design to challenge me on many levels; the artistic, horticultural, spatial and problem solving levels, in ways that are unique rather than overtly traditional.

annewareham August 22, 2016 at 10:42 am

I think my feelings are frequently engaged by mindless admiration, which is a feature of the garden world applying equally to celebrity designers and to gardens. My greatest wish – an increase in discrimination. Xx

Sherry brown August 20, 2016 at 5:12 pm

amen! I garden for me. When I come home and find a mom with tot exploring my flowers amazed with the butterflies, I get my reward.

annewareham August 20, 2016 at 7:50 pm

And what would be the best kind of person to teach you?

annewareham August 20, 2016 at 2:32 pm

One of two Facebook streams:

Carolyn Mullet

I’d love all my garden designer friends to read this blog post on the distinction the writer makes between persons who make their own gardens and professional garden designers. She wants the first to be called a garden maker but not the latter. Do we take up too much territory in the gardening world?

Gardeners, Designers – or Garden Makers? by Anne Wareham

57Vanessa Gardner Nagel, Jan Johnsen and 55 others

Paul Ridley I made the distinction, and even used the comparative terms ‘garden maker’ and garden designer in a lengthy response to a post on (I think) the thinkingardens site a few years ago. If I could trace it I would post the link. My problem with the distinction then, as now, is that it implies a hierarchy in which the untrained, muddy garden maker is somehow a better person as a result of their endeavours, engaged in hand to hand combat with pernicious weeds, than are designers directing a team of contractors to clear the plot. All nonsense – the comparison is between apples and oranges, not apples and apples. Designers exist to service a demand for expertise among people who a) want a lovely garden, b) are short of either time or knowledge and c) have sufficient resources to employ a professional to help. They are clearly not ‘makers’ in the sense of individuals crafting a garden in intimate connection with the land or plants, but they are not worse people because of it, nor are their clients. The crux of this non-argument lies somewhere in the entrenched snobbery of the gardening world, particularly in the UK where for some people the notion that one might have to buy one’s own furniture (as opposed to inheriting it) is irredeemably gauche.
There are of course wonderful gardens, the best in the world, created by dedicated makers with talent, experience and, almost invariably, personal resources to facilitate a life of experimentation and obsession in the garden – frankly, their gardens really ought to be the best!.

Carolyn Mullet Thoughtful & insightful, Paul. I suspect Anne would object to being called an “untrained, muddy garden maker”!

Paul Ridley I think she’d love it!

Paul Ridley The argument also hinges on the notion of ‘authenticity’, which again implies a hierarchy – we just need to accept that gardens, however they arise, are authentically themselves, created for diverse audiences, sometimes even an audience of one!

Carolyn Mullet Paul Ridley I couldn’t agree more.

Carien van BoxtelAnne Wareham Paul Ridley She’s right, Paul! Hate gardening. And nothing to do with that kind of snobbery but in the uk we do constantly get professional designers, and indeed, broadcasters, put in front of us to ‘teach’ us. Might be time to recognise that their skills are different and may not even be as applicable as we might wish for their audiences.

Anne Wareham Paul Ridley and Carolyn Mullet – please don’t let’s get into that old every garden is lovely thing. You don’t really think that. #don’tbelieveit.

Paul Ridley No – and I’d never say it, but the fact is that not every garden is intended for an audience of critically-savvy commentators/observers. If my neighbour likes concrete paving and gnomes, well, it’s her garden, not mine. There is a point to objectivel…See more

Anne Wareham Paul Ridley Well, of course. Getting a bit bonkers here!?

Paul Ridley Haha – well, if you will kick wasps’ nests, lol

Jan Johnsen I design them and then make them….

Cynthia Gillis Thanks Jan. I am now too old to do the actual “making”, but I an there, I supervise and I make sure it is made properly. The idea of a distinction, that somehow designers just design & then disappear, is ludicrous

Teresa Watkins Jan, Cynthia, Similarly, I design gardens and install them. While I dont always have to dig, I’ve paid my dues in that respect, I often have dirty hands while overseeing installations. My gardens are personalized for my clients and I do stand around, look, feel, to create the garden style and soul-nourishing landscape that my clients want before it goes on paper. I take my labels of Master Gardener, Horticulturist, Landscape Designer, and Environmental consultant seriously. My clients benefit from my 20 years of labels of experience and knowledge. While allowing for growth, Garden Maker is a limited label.

Michelle Derviss This doesn’t bother me after years of being called a gardener after investing years into a landscape architectural program. There are more important thing in life than stuff like this. just my thought, your milage may differ. 🙂

Teresa Watkins Thanks for sharing, Carolyn
So interesting to read how people view what they do.

Anna Williams Brooks She lost me at “Horticulturalist is some kind of posh gardener”. I think she may want to brush that chip off her shoulder and carry on…

Anne Wareham Thanks – check out original audience…

Renee Koerssen Hmmmm….not completely on board with this. Not for the ‘definition’, but rather for the exclusivity and exclusion of others who may very well dovetail nicely into that ‘class’ (of garden making) also.

Carolyn Mullet That’s what bothers me too. It’s a big tent and I want everyone included in whatever way they wish.

Carien van Boxtel The Bannermans and Arne Maynard are great ‘garden makers’ in this respect by the way too…

Jesse Mase I don’t worry about the titles. What I want to see are the gardens, which speak volumes for themselves.

Carolyn Mullet Exactly!

Anne Wareham These are lectures, not gardens. So the lecturer’s credentials may just matter a little.

Julia Fogg Life is too short – we do what we do and enjoy it.

Anne Wareham and comment on it…….

Julia Fogg No just get on

Anne Wareham That wasn’t, of course, a comment.

Mary Therese Horsfall I wonder about the relevance of labelling people in all walks of life and situations. Labels should not define us or limit us. Call yourself whatever seems appropriate in the time and circumstances. Tomorrow it could be different. Just enjoy your gardening and your garden, whatever role you play in it and whatever you call yourself.

Anne Wareham Making distinctions, which illuminate problems (relevance of skills in particular situations, ) is not mindless labelling.

Gypsy Rose Lou Nicholls I get upset at designers who dont know their plants (thats my thing) they have a pallette of plants they stick to rigidly regardless of soil types, aspects etc. i once worked with a very respected designer who did make beautiful gardens it has to be said but on this occasion planted an amazing (and very expensive) olive tree in a place that caught an east wind. it obviously did not flourish in the ways the others had and the explanation she was given for that did not go down well as it implied (i assume) to her that she had made a mistake. this same person replaced a shrub 4 times, each one died within a month or so. the 4th shrub i was there when it was planted but wanted to find the cause of the previous deaths. the gardeners had been read the riot act about lack of water but swore blind theyd done exactly what was asked of them. looking at the dead shrub i believed them as the symptoms where of overwatering rather than under. so i asked for a much larger hole to be dug to investigate what was happening in the soil. turned out it was sitting slap bang on a natural spring and consequently the pant was drowning. My point is that had they known their plants they could have recognised what the problem was themselves and not wasted the clients money (Or they could have believed the people employed to do the job? #snark 😉 ) if a designer does not know their plants it can cause all manner of problems as julie points out regarding the longevity of the design. some designers who do very well in shows where longevity is not a factor struggle in real life conditions unless they have a team of individuals around them that do understand the other factors involved and if they are lucky enough to have that believe and trust in their knowledge enough to say “ok heres my idea, how can me make this work” im sure this is the case in all design industries though. i used to be a process egineer in the jewellery trade, my job was to take the designers ideas and translate them to the toolmakers in a way that was possible for them to actually be made whilst staying as true to the design as possible. perhaps the problem is not so much with the media but with egos of individuals? anyway…. im waffling… carry on! :p

Pat Webster August 20, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Regardless of terminology, I am honoured to be one of those you named as a Garden Maker.
Thank you, Anne.

Susan Cohan August 20, 2016 at 12:09 pm

I don’t think the distinction matters. Does it matter if you ‘make’ or ‘design’ or ‘build’ one spectacular garden with yourself as a client or many over a lifetime for others? Is the distinction in having others paying the bill? As a professional designer, I sometimes work on gardens for many sequential years–tweaking and learning from my own triumphs and mistakes on a parcel of land that is not owned by me. Am I a maker or a designer then?

I haven’t made a garden for myself of any consequence because I’m too busy doing it for others and interested in other things when I’m not. If I had made one for myself, would I be a maker or a designer or a designer maker?

annewareham August 20, 2016 at 2:38 pm

My point here (not clearly enough expressed) is that what you are and what skills you possess do matter when you lecture. And professional garden designers might not always be the best people to teach gardeners and garden makers. (these terms help us understand the likely skills and preoccupations) Yet here in uk they are routinely offered, doing exactly that.

David Feix August 19, 2016 at 11:24 pm

I approach your conundrum from the opposite end; having a degree in landscape architecture and sole-proprietor of a design/build/maintain firm doing residential garden making. I feel the best results for my work require my continued shaping and cultivation of the garden if I want it to maintain my vision for it. Caring for plants and knowing their cultivation needs most definitely is not the typical list of job skills for most professional landscape architects, but has always existed within the profession; my personal favorite example being Roberto Burle Marx. Like Marx, I am equally inspired by both the intrinsic qualities of the plants themselves, the inspired beauty and lessons to be learned from their arrangements in habitat, and the lessons of art and culture as they apply to creating a garden. Like Marx, I think many gardeners/makers/designers here in the Americas design and garden in reaction to historical trends, feeling they don’t speak to the conditions of the New World with its lack of continuous historical imprimatur. Historical imprints here on the West Coast tend to come from the Spanish and Portuguese colonizers or trade contacts with China and Japan, or more recently leisure travel industry trends more so than other European or British influences.

I find it amusing this continued reaction to being called a gardener, designer, horticulturist or professional what-ever. It seems trumped up to me, and I’m perfectly content to call someone however they prefer to name themself, as well as answer any “how do you grow this?” types of questions on occasion. I will admit that I most enjoy visiting gardens that indicate the same multiple influences I combine, especially with someone who can talk knowledgeably about plants and gardens. Perhaps why my best friends are nursery owners, not other designers. Life is too short to get hung up on titles and semantics, and the pleasure comes from both creating and sustaining a garden over decades; like being a parent.

annewareham August 19, 2016 at 11:40 pm

I think this may be a specifically UK irritation. In the last 15 years or so we have had professional garden designers thrust at us relentlessly in all our media outlets and at talks and so on as you see from the advert I referred to. It is as if they must be the only ones who can teach us all how to and where to and what with. So my point is not simply about names, so much as what people actually do and whether they are really useful in these contexts beyond being our latest celebrities.

I really don’t seem to have made myself clear enough.

Janet DelTurco August 19, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Hello Anne:
Having recently sold the house and garden I have lived in for 59 years and moved into a house in the country with an acre of garden, I must suggest a refinement to your term and declare that I am now a garden Re-Maker
Keep up the good work!

annewareham August 19, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Wow – that’s a tough one! Hope it goes well!

Ann Hawkins August 19, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Oh my, I had no idea there was such a cauldron of dissatisfaction in the gardening world!
I’ve been making my garden, (small, domestic, rectangular) for 30 years.
I do everything and, as Anne says, every time I stand at my back door and gaze at the garden its with an eye on what looks good, what fits, what needs moving. I’m constantly improving it and amazed that its a job that is never finished.
No body taught me do it. I look things up when I need specific information (checking my sources to make sure they’re not unpaid bloggers talking rubbish).
I consider myself to be a garden maker, because that’s what I do!
Thanks for another thought provoking post Anne. As someone who does what you do in another sphere, its good to keep stirring the pot!

annewareham August 19, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Thanks, Ann – and that sounds spot on… Xx

Souren August 19, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Dear Anne

Your article is spot-on and thought-provoking, as usual. I have been calling myself a garden-maker for some time now. Because it has taken years for me to become comfortable with my definition of what I do; and because everyone seeks to pigeon-hole us – there are after all gardeners (perhaps they can be elevated to ‘plantspersons’, perhaps not), landscapers, and garden designers. Full stop. OK, maybe tree surgeons too.

I would say though that to be a good garden-maker, gardening skills are as important as design skills: you need to know how to make plants thrive, which ones will look good together, and how to keep them looking good throughout the seasons, even the years. Time over-powers everything. Anticipating and allowing for the passage of time in a newly built garden is a real challenge, and is often overlooked by designers.

I do accept that to pursue beauty and harmony at a single location can be an inspiring, almost religious exercise. I sometimes wish I could have taken this path myself, but it was not to be. But I don’t think you have to be involved only with a single garden to be a garden-maker. You must simply be involved with every aspect of its creation and maintenance. And inevitably, with its changes and improvements over time, as with any other object of love.

Very best wishes
Souren Ala

annewareham August 19, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Yes, you are right, doesn’t have to be just one garden – but it does involve those hands dirty skills and knowledge (about the particular places you are involved with especially). Thank you for your thoughtful response, Souren.

TingTong. August 20, 2016 at 1:35 am

Spot on. A delight to read. Thanks Souren.

Nicky Fraser August 19, 2016 at 9:24 am

I think we need to rename from the bottom not the top. The difficulty in defining yourself as a garden related person is distinguishing yourself from the ‘blow and go’ brigade who daily pile out of vans to follow blowers, mowers and power washers around. They are not gardeners, having no skills practically or creatively related to gardens. They can pull a cord and walk. Yet they label themselves gardeners. If they were given a new title – outdoor cleaners perhaps – then everybody else who uses the word ‘garden’ in their title would be elevated to a position where the word garden would indicate some knowledge or skill relating to the subject.

It may also help customers to not look aghast when you tell them that your skills, qualifications and creativity come at a slightly higher price than the unskilled workers they employ to blast the algae off the driveway.

Gardener, garden maker, garden designer, oh and horticulturalist -Not posh. Educated. – I am all of them. And so are you Anne (Well not the horticulturalist bit.)

annewareham August 19, 2016 at 9:49 am

Definitely not horticulturalist….

Martin August 18, 2016 at 11:26 pm

I’m not entirely sure why you are bothered by this Anne – are you expecting everyone to agree with your definition of Garden Maker? Even then can not amateur garden makers go on courses about garden making taught by professional garden designers which is what this appears to be? When you “…obsessively learned all I can about gardens.” did you never look at a garden created by a garden designer? Did you only learn from amateur garden makers who never charged people to visit their garden unless for charity? The only difference between reading a book by a garden designer and going on a day course by a garden designer is the amount of money you have to spend and how good the food is. Do you lose your Garden Makerishness if you have anything to do with a professional gardener or even designers who are “relentlessly paraded professionals”?

You don’t help your point by suggesting that “Horticulturists …appear to be a posh sort of gardener” when perhaps they could equally be gardeners who learned obsessively about gardens and then passed an exam in the subject. The Young Horticulturist of the Year, for example, is a great way of celebrating knowledge of horticulture rather than poshness and I think we should celebrate knowledge whether amateur or professional.

I think amateur garden makers (using your meaning of the term) contribute hugely to UK gardening culture and always have historically; I think there are some very good points to be made about what they do contribute and I think you do do that frequently, but I can’t see how complaining because professionals teach amateurs is going to help.

annewareham August 19, 2016 at 12:11 am

What is interesting is that the gardens I looked at then (cf Hidcote, Sissinghurst, Beth Chattos, Rosemary Verey’s, Penelope Hobhouse’s, Dixter) were nothing much to do with professional garden design.(but they did all charge entrance to the gardens)

Maybe that has influenced my perceptions and my belief about who we most need to be influenced by. True,I have never been on a day’s course, or any course, by a garden designer.

But my point is really that your ‘professionals’ may be teaching the amateur garden makers, – but are they teaching what garden makers need to know? Or what garden designers have learned for totally different purposes?

Julieanne Porter August 18, 2016 at 10:01 pm

That’s a good point about context, garden designers don’t often continue work on a garden over years. I like the title Garden Maker and can see that’s a nice distinction from design, gardening etc.

I see myself as an Amateur Gardener or Permaculture Gardener (depends on the day). I do have a Certificate in Permaculture Design and do sometimes talk about design on my blog. However, I’m usually talking about it within the context of permaculture design, which is quite different from garden design, though of course there are areas where they overlap. I try to be clear that this is where I’m coming from, because I make no claims to be neither a formal garden designer, nor a garden maker.

Naming can matter and I don’t see why you shouldn’t rant and claim Garden Maker back from Garden Designers!

annewareham August 19, 2016 at 12:02 am

Thank you, Julieanne! I do think we warrant a little recognition of our own! Xxxx

Tony Spencer August 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Let me cast a vote for garden makers.

I’ve softly favoured it in my writing for a while now and actually, here in Canada, our better hort magazine is called ‘Garden Making’.

To my ears, it sounds like someone who’s gardening out of passion and intent, not duty and profit.

annewareham August 18, 2016 at 5:31 pm

We need to see off those designers who wish to pinch the title then…..

Tony Spencer August 18, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Off with their deadheads!

annewareham August 19, 2016 at 12:02 am

That’s the gardeners who know what they are!

Rachel the Gardener August 18, 2016 at 3:08 pm

I heartily agree, Anne!

For many years I have stood on my soapbox and shouted that we need another word for “someone who gardens professionally, who understands and utilises all the principles of design, who understands and is knowledgeable about plants, but who is not a theoretical person, or a hit-and-run person, but is someone who actually DOES the job, ongoing, year after year”.

My analogy is cooking: I can cater for a dozen without breaking a sweat, but there’s no way I would call myself a Chef.

In the same way, as a Professional Gardener, I know a great deal about garden design, but I would never call myself a Garden Designer.

You may think of yourself as an “amateur” gardener if you wish, Anne, but I would disagree: the definition of “professional” is basically “good enough to get paid for doing it” and I would submit, yer Honour, that as you open your garden to the public, and people are therefore paying to see your garden (which is fab, by the way, and my review of it will be coming to my blog soon, I promise!), then you are indeed professional.

There is a bit of an upswell at the moment, about the iniquities of horticultural pay and working conditions (which are generally abysmal): but I maintain that until we come up with another word for someone who gardens at a level above the “amateur”, then the perception that gardening is somehow a job for thickies who are unable to get an office job, will not change.

Oddly enough, I considered Garden Maker as my job title when I first started out!

annewareham August 18, 2016 at 5:30 pm

I am an amateur designer, though, surely, Rachel? I have only designed Veddw, apart from helping out a few friends, mostly for free.

Confusing too, wondering what people do pay us for when they visit the garden. An interesting question, but it’s not my amazing gardening skills either. (which interestingly I have recently contrasted to ‘Fine Gardening’.)

Looking forward to your review. Should be bracing! Xxx

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