Fisher Tomlin lashes "boring" Chelsea planting schemes

Andrew Fisher Tomlin, the director of the London College of Garden Design has urged Young Hort conference delegates to be brave and not copy others when they plant gardens, or whatever they decide to do in their horticulture careers.

He said at a talk at the Young Hort conference at the recent Landscape Show, "standing up and standing out" was important, with "way too many people in our profession following the herd. They take the same option to be accepted by their fellow professionals. It's important to speak out and stand up for yourself."

Fisher Tomlin said he had spoken out against the Garden Bridge in London as a "complete waste of money that could be better spent", for instance the £30m from the Treasury on saving 50 science jobs at Kew. He said the planned Bridge was "nothing interesting or new" and something similar was already at Mile End nearby.

He said he had been criticised as "anti-horticulture" and "hasty to criticise" but he urged delegates to "stand up and be counted" like him.

The Chelsea selection committee chairman said at Chelsea and Hampton Court 2015 "the gardeners all executed the same planting, especially wildflower turf to make a picture frame around the garden with no relevance to what's going on in the garden".

He said many of the gardens were gold medal winners and were good but he was "criticising the means this planting was arrived at".

He said the planting was "boring" and "two-thirds of designers copy well-known designers because they thought that was the accepted norm and because they'd won gold medals at other shows".

Fisher Tomlin said Chelsea designers were "generally not doing anything exciting because they are given large sums of sponsors' money so tend towards safeness and tend to lack soul".

He said small gardens at smaller shows like Tatton Park had no money so "created their own story and did not take a safe route". 

He added that "clients see through the bullshit".

* In a separate talk, Planting design for heritage gardens: Approaches and practice, to garden designer delegates at Barcham Trees, Fisher Tomlin said many historic gardens pass the test of time not just by presenting planting from a particular period, but also by remaining relevant through the introduction of new planting design and ideas.

He said gardens soon revert to nature if neglected, and that fashion in gardens changes as in other areas of human activity. For example, Italian-style gardens were popular here before 1700, but Haddon Hall is a rare extant example of an Italianate garden. "We often reject our parents' ideas and revert to those of our grand parents", he said. Today 'secret gardens', 'tranquil retreats' and 'meadow borders' are in vogue; plantings may be rich, but they are 'installed' rather than planted. Clients want low installation and maintenance costs, while today's budgetary constraints mean designers rely on plants more than on hard landscaping.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

This year's Saltex will be looking to build on the success of last year by packing in a multitude of exhibitors and sessions over the two days, Sally Drury reports.



These tidy evergreen trees are not just for Christmas and come in a range of shapes and sizes, writes Miranda Kimberley.

Tree lifting, moving  and planting

Tree lifting, moving and planting

Successful relocations can see even big trees flourish while costing less than buying new stock, says Sally Drury.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Landscape Contracts & Tenders

Industry Data

New: We have pooled the wealth of data from the past six months' worth of Landscape Project Leads to create an exclusive report for subscribers looking at the key development trends, clients and locations for 2016.