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Chelsea Inspiring JBA’s Landscapes

Just in case you saw the Chelsea coverage on TV recently, I was very impressed with the garden by Andy Sturgeon, which embraced a naturalistic planting style very much in vogue right now. It works well, containing a lot more herbaceous plant material than past fixation on all-year-round evergreens dominating most schemes. The change to an ever-greater emphasis on naturalistic planting serves to celebrate the seasonal changes through the year, with the crescendo of summer flowers. I liked the way this was achieved by Andy, and fits my ultimate test of a good planting scheme – what I call ‘curated informality’.

I have seen some great schemes in recent months, blending formal clipped forms with loose, frothy and natural planting approaches, the more formal and architectural forms, providing a rhythm to the planting – ensuring the disorderly froth is curated into regulated zones, and in Andy’s case – associated with water, stone and the degrees of dampness.

I have had the privilege of working alongside Andy Sturgeon for a development in London, and went on to deliver a continuing professional development talk on designing for nature, and how our possession of an ecology team within JBA has influenced our approach to landscape design and the benefits in biodiversity and sustainability.

Andy is the second Chelsea Gold Medal winner I have worked closely with in JBA’s long history – I was also lucky enough to work alongside Bunny Guinness in London, many years ago.  We worked together on my first commission for my fledgling practice James Blake Associates back in 1988. Her work and advice back then have always been an inspiration.

James Blake