The Legendary Garden Designer Tom Stuart Smith


On Wednesday night I was lucky enough to get to go and see one of  my favorite designers Tom Stuart Smith at the Garden Museum in Lambeth. 

When I say I was lucky enough to get a ticket, that required a little persistance.  By the time I had heard about the lecture it had sold out.  I phoned to place my name top on a waiting list and then phoned back three times to check it was still top and no-one had returned a ticket.  On the third phone call the poor lady gave in to my begs and pleads and gave me a seat by the exit.

This is a world renound gardener who has won 6 gold medals at Chelsea and 3 Best in Show including the fabulous Laurent-Perrier Garden in 2008.  I was incredibly disappointed when he didn’t exhibit this year. 

Tom delivered an inspiring lecture on “The Spirit of Place”.  He talked in great detail about his inspiration for his designs and  how he contrasts exposure and enclosure when looking at the dialogue of the landscape.  He is a great fan of viewing garden spaces from an aerial view, often by climbing a tree and getting a feel for the landscape and the patterns he can incorporate into that.  Tom is conscious of trying to reattach us with our sense of place, measuring the location by river ways and footpaths rather than motorways.

Tom designed a garden in Mount St John overlooking the Vale of York.  He wanted the garden to be a prostration to the surrounding views and to repeat some part of that view within the planting plan. He got hold of old maps of the area and used the hedgerow pattern as his basis of his planting and design. It was really stunning. 

I could wax lyrical about Tom’s designs till the cows come home, so I will try to conclude fairly succinctly.  Tom uses nature, art, science and literature as inspiration for his incredible designs.  He proves that sustainability doesn’t have to be lacking in style and thought and I sincerely hope that is something I will take with me throughout my design career.

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