How is garden design faring in today's economic climate?

We asked participants at a recent Inchbald School of Design event to give their views.

- "People who want their gardens de-signed are being more cautious. It's not that they're spending less but they are more discerning and check qualifications. In my own business we used to get the job straight away but now clients are getting quotes and designs from several companies.

"For our graduates, having a direct employer is better than setting up your own business right away. And being a member of the Society of Garden Designers ticks a box for some clients.

"There's a huge new market of people doing up their gardens to sell their houses. The instant market benefits too as people want instant gardens to sell their properties."

Andrew Duff, director, garden design, Inchbald School of Design

- "It's a worrying time although garden design tends to have a certain amount of protection. As a premium service for top-end designers, the credit crunch is not a problem.

"But as a consequence of the downturn in the building industry, building contractors will start to present themselves as landscapers so it becomes a more competitive market and standards of construction will not necessarily be equal.

"People give unrealistic prices when times are tight. For instance, they won't include snagging and other important quality-control issues. Cowboy operators will take off down the road with the profits and won't come back."

Peter Thomas, chairman, Society of Garden Designers

- "There's been a boom time with a number of good designers coming through. That's to be celebrated but now there will be less work around.

"You do get that during times of uncertainty. Things need to quieten down a bit. People will be doing up their houses rather than building new properties or moving. That always happens in a recession.

"However, in terms of creating gardens we have been through a boom time and that will even out."

Diarmuid Gavin, garden designer

- "Employers just want people who are very competent on CAD. Gardening is a dying tradition.

"There are an awful lot of designers and not many people who want to do maintenance anymore. For instance, Sissinghurst is still good because the gardeners make sure it's not overgrown.

"My horticultural knowledge is as important as what I've learnt about design. So while a lot of people forget the maintenance and will continue to pay for the name of a designer, they really need to think long term."

Joh Bates, garden design graduate, Inchbald School of Design.


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