Juliet Sargeant took over last week following a vote of the society hastily arranged after the sudden departure of Rutherfoord, a highly respected member of the SGD. Sargeant has been vice chair for internal communications for the last five years.
"As an organisation of 1,300 creative minds the SGD is never short of ideas," said Sargeant on her appointment. "The active involvement of our members and friends is our greatest asset and I am keen to continue that tradition."
The society refused to comment on the departure of her predecessor other than to issue a short statement last week.
"Charles Rutherfoord has resigned as chairman after holding the position for eight months," said the press notice from vice chair Amanda Patton. "Charles has worked tirelessly for the society and achieved much in the time he held the post.
"In particular he has cemented the agreement between the SGD and the Garden Museum for a garden design archive and instigated an exciting initiative with the National Gardens Scheme for 2013."
Rutherfoord would say only: "It’s a shame but life moves on. I don’t think I want to make a more detailed statement on my reasons: I think probably they will become evident from what happens next. I would rather not comment."
In his most extensive public interview, given to Horticulture Week earlier this year, Rutherfoord said he was keen to shift the society’s emphasis from professionalism and adjudication to more aspirational aspects and "our role as a shop window for designers' and students’ work."
He criticised the design pendulum swinging too heavily towards hard landscaping and suggested the Brits were out of step with other nations on urban greening, citing the high-profile Exhibition Road in Kensington (HW 9 March).