Beautiful - Practical - Personal

I often think that I grew up in a garden rather than a house. My large family lived in a 'retired' boarding school dormitory house in Reading with an acre of garden, at least half of which was orchard and soft fruit bushes.

My earliest memories are of being wheeled about (at a great speed!) in a wheelbarrow, picking blackberries from the huge hedge, topping and tailing gooseberries, swinging from the beautiful walnut tree and failing to grow wallflowers that I sowed in a bare patch of earth next to a wall.

There was a wild flower that I could dismantle to turn into a miniature parrot and set into an array on a grass stem.

When the family grew smaller and we moved to a small suburban house in Manchester, my mother still grew her roses and I developed a taste for strawberry growing, leaving only enough lawn for two to sunbathe on! During my student days, studying Biochemistry and Animal Physiology, another move took my mother and I to a garden in the North Pennines with a large bed of blackcurrants, the fruit with which I learned to love jam-making, despite the tiny size of the kitchen.

My first forays into whole garden-making arose through negotiations for my husband and I to be allowed to keep our puppy in our rented London flat. I offered to keep up the garden in exchange, and that Spring the display from the 250 bulbs I had planted in the front garden was spectacular!

A few years later, in our first house in Stanhope, I had only a concrete back-yard. But that soon developed raised beds, an alpine 'mountainside and lake', with roses and clematis clothing the unattractive walls.

My chance to really get stuck in came when my growing family moved two doors down the street to a 'proper' garden. It was more or less flat, which is rare in Weardale! Sadly, though, it was afflicted with a common problem: lawn in the middle and a thin rim of plants around the edge, almost certainly bought as a Sunday Supplement offer of "Colour in Every Season!"

I have to admit that I worked in the garden when I should have decorated the house. There was at least one important reason: there is a 50 foot drop behind the low railings at the end and I needed to extend the border away from it and plant prickly things to deter my young children from the easily acquired habit of watching the caravan site below (and forgetting themselves and falling!). Then I needed to plant a box hedge to keep balls off the plants, then I needed to plant up the sides to match and wouldn't that tall west-facing stone wall make a lovely site for fan-trained fruit trees and.....

The upshot of moving to my own real garden was that I left my career as a Post-Doctoral Biomedical Researcher, retrained in 2004 as a Garden Designer and started changing people's gardens and lives for the better!

Recently, moving to a smaller modern house with an empty garden has given me the opportunity to experiment again, at last! The Pictorial Meadow for the front garden has been a huge success; the new lawn from seed looks like hairy soil, in a crazy-golf course (many massive manhole covers) and the very curvy borders have made the space look twice as big. I’m so looking forward to Spring, after planting more than 500 bulbs!

Professional Development

Course Title Date Held Organised By
Masterclasses in Design and Planting Sept 2014 Oxford School of Garden Design
Health, Safety and Environmental Test: Passed April 2014 British Association of Landscape Industries
Coaching for Leadership and Management Dec 2011-Nov 2012 NBSL
Designing and Building Gardens on Difficult Sites Nov 2011 Society of Garden Designers
Construction and Construction Drawings Oct 2011 Society of Garden Designers
Train to Gain: Business Mentoring Dec 2010-Feb 2011 NBSL
Coaching for High Growth (inc.Business Mentoring) May-Nov 2010 Solutions for Business
The Essentials of Excellence Oct 2010 Society of Garden Designers
Marketing Workshop Oct 2010 Business Link
Negotiation Skills Workshop Jul 2010 Business Link
Specification Writing for Real Life Mar 2010 Society of Garden Designers
Pictorial Meadows, Green Roofs & Rain Gardens Dec 2009 Society of Garden Designers
Heavenly Gardens in Hellish Places Oct 2009 Society of Garden Designers
Finance & Business Nov 2008 Finance Tree
Protect Your Website Sep 2009 Own-It
Water in the Garden May 2009 Society of Garden Designers
Making Money from Intellectual Property Jan 2009 Own-It
Surveying with Confidence Sep 2008 Society of Garden Designers
Business Development Programme Jun-Oct 2008 The Enterprise Agency
The Garden: A Reflection of Its Time Jun 2007 RHS
Not So Soft: Planting to Define Space Apr 2007 Society of Garden Designers
Unleash Your Potential Mar 2007 Women Into the Network
Stone Mar 2006 Society of Garden Designers
Running a Garden Design Practice Mar 2006 Society of Garden Designers
Advanced Certificate in Horticulture (RHS) Apr 2003- Jun 2005 RHS / Houghall College
BTEC National Award in Horticulture Sep 2003-Jun 2004 BTEC / Houghall College
City & Guilds Certificate Component: Garden Design Apr-Jun 2003 City & Guilds / Houghall College

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