The latest edition of the industry's leading magazien celebrates horticulture and asked Andrew why he loves horticulture. Here is his response in full.
"More than anything else there’s a bond that is created by horticulture. It’s something that is hard to explain but when you’re in it you tend to get it.
Before I started my career proper I spent my childhood helping my Dad out at his allotments, one of which was behind Barclays Bank in the village. It’s where we talked because typically men don’t talk to each other but working side by side you do. I then spent teenage years picking fruit for Chivers Farms in the summer alongside my friends, a band of youngsters scratched to pieces by gooseberries but with healthy tans and with many laughs.
I didn’t choose horticulture straightaway but eventually I made the right choice and went to study at Askham Bryan College. The course was brilliant and we were another band of students bound together by a love of plants, parks and gardens. We even had a song and we supported each other as we started out in more ways than just studying. I look at the groups of students we have at London College of Garden Design and I see a similar thing happening. A love of horticulture brings people together and gives them a support network that goes above and beyond just plants.
My work is often with communities across a wide range of ages and abilities. When you experience the camaraderie of vision-impaired veterans in there 80s or talk to a 104 year old veteran about his garden you get it. The power of horticulture to help children escape tough family situations, to give young adults a new start when they’ve been carers all their lives, to let adults with learning challenges live independent lives and the elderly with dementia in care home settings is in many ways immeasurable.
But we are starting to measure it and the powers that be, those who hold the purse strings are starting to understand. When we see the power that they hold being directed to plants, parks and gardens, that will make me love horticulture just a little bit more."
Earlier this year Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer won a competition to design a new garden that will support the commemoration of the end of the First World War at the Thiepval Memorial in France. The memorial is the largest of its kind in the Commonwealth. The garden itself is not a memorial but a place of reflection and was commissioned to acknowledge the role of Welsh soldiers in the Battle of the Somme in particular.
It is inspired by the ribbon of history that connects both the past and the future. It will prompt a gentle, thoughtful reflection on those who fought in the Battles of the Somme and how we can prevent this happening again. The main structure is a single 100 foot long seat that sits gently upon the ground within a quiet part of the woodland at Thiepval. The seat is artisan made and wraps around and engages with existing trees. The seat will include Welsh oak and Portland stone to resonate with the existing memorial. It will sit lightly on the ground without the need to install into the ground. New planting will include the seeding of species primroses, recently voted as Wales’ favourite flower, across the woodland.
The seat was substantially made off site by our partners at Oxford Planters & Joinery and for the installation we had a team that included a Commonwealth apprentice gardener. The seeding of primroses will be carried out shortly by service veterans in collaboration with a new charity Veterans Growth that is aiming to support veterans with PTSD through horticulture.
We have developed our idea based on our own personal experiences working with veterans, community groups and younger generations in delivering sensitive stories through gardens and landscapes. Our aim for Thiepval is to deliver a garden that will be a place to reflect on our shared history and refocus on what we can do as individuals and communities towards a future peace.
For the fourth year running the Blind Veterans UK garden that we designed in 2014 has won awards at the Wales in Bloom finals. The garden won an outstanding in the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ section and a Silver Gilt in the Health & Social Care Establishment category. Llandudno town of which the garden contributes to also won a Gold. Joanna Tann, Volunteer Coordinator said "The volunteers continue to work so hard and have been amazing." so congratulations all roudn for looking after this amazing garden so well.
If you visit our articles page you'll find a brand new article on hiring a garden designer, some top tips aboyt the things you should be asking of a designer. Even better Andrew has recently recorded an interview for the well known Podcast Roots And All about the very same subject!
You can hear it here at https://rootsandall.co.uk/portfolio-item/episode-4-hiring-a-garden-designer/
The longest seat in the world to be made from sustainable Accoya is progressing well at Oxford Planters & Joinery. It is being made for the peace garden we have designed to commemorate the WW1 Armistice at the Thiepval memorial near Amiens in Northern France.
The seat includes elements of Welsh Oak and Portland stone reflecting our remit to reflect the sacrifice of Welshmen that lost their lives as well as the stone that isused in the Thiepval memorial. This isn't a memorial garden though, it is a peace garden and a place to reflect on what we can all do in the future to bring peace.
The garden will be installed in late September and opened by President Macron in early November.
In 2018 Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer will be creating a garden at the Thiepval Memorial in Northern France. The memorial is the largest in the Commonwealth and the garden of peace will stand alongside the memorial in the woodlands. Our winning entry is titled 'Through a woodland gently" and will include oak from Wales and England as well as France and Portland Stone to reflect the materials in the memorial itself. The garden will be opened by President Macron of France in October.
This is the second time that we have created a garden in the region with the first a permanent island garden open to the public in the centre of Amiens.
We're involved in National Gardening Week at Warren House. For more details of free tours and activities during this week visit
On Tuesday 1st May and Wednesday 3rd May we'll be taking part in celebrations for National Gardening Week with two days of special tours and advice at Warren House in Kingston-upon-Thames. If you woudl like to hear the history of the house and gardens and its famous horticultural neighbours just turn up at the house where Andrwe will be leading tours. If you plan to come in advance you can book lunch or afternoon tea in the orchid room as well.
Many of you will know that we've created gardens in other countries, especially NewZealand and Australia. Often at garden shows these serve to highlight our interest in the power of gardens and gardening for our well-being. In 2015 we curated a 3D printed show and in 2016 we curated a show with 15 designers in Istanbul well now we are bringing both well-known designers and new young talent to Ascot Racecourse next Spring. For more details and to get it in yoru diary take a look at https://www.ascot.co.uk/garden-designs-unveiled-ascot-spring-garden-show-2018-launch-event
We're celebrating a big win in the Britain in Bloom Awards this week for Llandudno where our garden for Blind Veterans UK garden at the charity's centre at the entrance to the town played a big part in securing a Gold Award. With the restoration of a large 4 acre woodland with new planting and access for the members, staff and volunteers, as well as local schools and community groups we also managed to help effort towards increased biodiversity. And everyone loves the garden, especially for a quiet moment in the sun!
Andrew this month delivered a seminar with renowned plant specialist and designer Peter Thurman at HM The Queen's tree nursery, Barcham Trees, in East Anglia.
The day started with a look at planting design to achieve different and more interesting plant choices led by Andrew who is known for his creative approach to planting design that results in better, more sustainable mixed plantings. It continued to a guided tour of the more unusual tree stock that Barcham Trees have. Over 50 attendees were then treated to a look at the challenges facing our tree population in the UK and some suggestions of new, resiliant species that we should be using by Peter.
Our trees are facing unprecedented attacks from pests and diseases and so this day coudln't have come at a more opportune moment. If you are interested in having something different or more resiliant trees for the future then please contact us.
This might seem a bit of a strange post but more and more of our customers with large gardens are opting to plant perennial meadows. You might have visited the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (we were advisers on part of the scheme for the site) and seen the amazing pictorial meadows that were designed and planted especially for the 2012 London Olympics. Well we learned lots of lessons about how to create sustainable and long lasting colour in planting and now we're benefitting.
Even small spaces can benefit from a pictorial meadow. The picture above shows part of a 500 square metre meadow planted in the shade of some very old oak trees. We've used a woodland edge mix that starts with some yellow but quickly gives blues and eventually this high density of creamy white Ammi in high summer. We've cut this back to 8 inches now so that other perennials can establish for the second and succeeding years. Plants like evening primrose Oenoethera odorata introduced by the Veitch Nurseries in Victorian times but now an essential part of an English summer garden.
If you're interested in establishing a colourful summer meadow give us a call to find out more.
We're not just creating private residential gardens. Recently a new swimming pool and gardens were designed for Roehampton Country Club in London and after a 6 month build they were opened to members.
The opening has gone well despite the recent spate of British Summer rainfall (!) and one member commented " I would like to add my congratulations to all involved for an outstanding job. What a transformation. The design of the new pool is excellent, as is the artificial grass interspersed with carefully selected and landscaped flower beds."
We are now working on permanent planting for the club this autumn and further developments to support their position at the top of London's private sports clubs.
This week we were able to host Streetscape at Warren House to support the regular gardeners with a big renovation of the rose garden and an early summer tidy up of the Veitch Heritage Garden. Apprentices were able to learn about what it means to work in a heritage garden where there are lots of visitors and find out about the history of the house and their famous neighbours in Coombe Wood, the Veitch Nurseries.
There are still some tours available for this year at Warren House, just contact the house direct on 0208547177.
We're very happy to have received a Gold medal AND the Best Construction Award at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017 this week. The award is for the Blind Veterans UK garden that we have been working on for some 2 years and features some of the most complicated and detailed structures we have ever tried for a show garden. Tribute to the 65 people who came on site and the additional 40 who have worked in workshops and supported this project was paid when we received the outstanding award for construction excellence, something that is so important to our work.
We're now on day 12 of the Blind Veterans UK #allboutcommunity garden installation. The hot weather last week was pretty intense but we have managed a few cooler days now and we are on track to create the largest show garden design we've ever attempted in the UK. If you are thinking of coming to the show make sure you book up your tickets now as they are sellig fast. And if you mention this article we'll try and get you a tour of the garden by one of teh blind veterans themselves!