Response to I Hate Designing Gardens

April 4, 2010

in Uncategorized

by Chris Young

There are some interesting threads in this piece. Primarily, what Suzanne is alluding to is a) how, as a designer, you set your self up (and subsequently market yourself), and b) how informed (or otherwise) clients are. Both are tricky to do (especially the latter), but making sure both sides of the design equation know what is going on is essential.

But there is also another element here – that of how the individual performs in relation to people you know or like. I am in a situation that I am sure many design-trained people find themselves in: friends of ours call on my knowledge all the time, to give them a few ideas, suggestions or design proposals. They ask in innocence. And indeed, my day job is working on a gardening magazine in the UK, so they know that this isn’t my ‘job’. (Aha – but it is! Read on….)

However, one of my new year’s resolutions was not to give my advice too freely, to demonstrate to our friends that what I know has been built up over many years, and is indeed my trade. My knowledge has a value; just as a solicitor, plumber, architect. Would you ask for them to jot some ideas down, do a quick sketch or help you realise your ideas on the ground? Probably not. But how do you say no when you are having a beer with a friend in their garden, mulling over ‘what to do in this corner’ or ‘needing plants to screen this shed’.

The end result is that I continue to give my advice, because I like people and I like talking gardens with them. Surely the point is that if we get more people gardening, working on their gardens and enjoying their outside space, then all the better?

Yet I know I am now helping perpetuate the myth that gardening is intrinsically a hobbyist pursuit, and ideas don’t ‘cost’ anything. Obviously I don’t want to charge for everything, and it is certainly not about the money. But it is about making a statement that what I have learned is of value. And that people should respect that. This isn’t a sob story, and ultimately it is my decision. But I do feel like I am not helping the garden design cause. Answers on a postcard please….

Chris Young – Deputy Editor of The Garden

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