A collection of ambitious and innovative gardens and landscapes were celebrated at the Society of Garden Designers (SGD) Awards last night at an annual event that recognised the creative talents of a wide cross-section of SGD Members.
Among the 22 winners on the night were Andy Sturgeon FSGD who won the highly prized ‘Garden of the Year’ Award, Stefano Marinaz MSGD who took this year’s Judges’ Award and James Hitchmough who was presented with the annual SGD Lifetime Achievement Award.
The SGD Garden of the Year Award – the most prestigious of the SGD Awards and also known as the Grand Award – was presented to Andy Sturgeon FSGD for the rooftop gardens designed for London’s iconic Battersea Power Station. Created without fences or boundaries, this series of private communal gardens was designed to be read as a single, cohesive space while seamlessly incorporating a number of private gardens. Respecting the heritage of the building and the constraints of the architecture were key to the success of the project as was the creation of human scale environments on this exposed London site.
The judges described the project as ‘an extraordinary piece of work’ while remarking on the ‘fantastic endeavour, scale and creativity of the project and its beautiful execution’. The scheme was also named as the winner in the Roof, Podium or Raised Courtyard category.
In a separate category, Hobhouse Court designed by Andy Sturgeon received the award for best Hardscape Design.
Another triple award-winner on the night was Stefano Marinaz MSGD who took the highly coveted Judges’ Award, the Medium Residential Garden Award and the Design for the Environment Award for Church Barn in Essex. The judges called the project ‘a beautiful, understated nod to modernity’. They were particularly impressed with the ‘complex and interesting planting’, saying it was ‘a perfect example of how to be bold with big planting’.
The People’s Choice Award – the only award to be determined by public vote – went to one of the Society’s newest Registered Members, Adam Vetere MSGD for a treetop garden he designed in Berkshire. The garden, which also won the Small Residential Gardens Award, was described by the judges as ‘a really good piece of design that demonstrated great skill in working within a limited flat space at the top of a very steep site’. They also commented on the ‘meticulously executed construction detailing and the superb level of finish’.
This year’s Large Residential Garden Award went to Robert Myers MSGD for a garden in Cambridgeshire that was designed to enhance the setting of the house, improve access and circulation while creating new garden spaces and increasing the wildlife value of the site. The judges called it a ‘strong and confident garden’ and remarked on the lovely combination of colours, texture and movement that created a feeling of total immersion for the owners.
At the opposite end of the scale, the Garden Jewel Award was won by SGD Awards newcomer, George Cullis MSGD for a garden the judges described as ‘a lush oasis providing a truly immersive garden experience’. (pictured above). While Harry Holding returned after his success at the 2022 SGD Awards to take the Big Ideas, Small Budget Award for an enchanting woodland garden with an impressive planting design that the judges felt had achieved ‘a wonderful transformation’ (pictured below).
The hotly contested Planting Award went to Nic Howard MSGD this year for a scheme the judges called ‘an excellent example of a traditional approach to planting’. The panel was impressed by the considered, cohesive and well-proportioned plan and commented on the ‘bold mix of plants suited to the site, good textural consideration and an excellent use of trees’.
The new Wellbeing Garden at RHS Wisley designed by Matt Keightley MSGD took the prize for the best UK Commercial or Community Landscapes this year. The judges were impressed with the strong design aesthetic, accomplished, well-considered planting and great use of texture, colour and shape, calling it a ‘complex and beautiful scheme within a very difficult space.
Further afield, the second commercial project to be recognised on the night was Masseria Pistola in Italy designed by Adam Hunt which was named best International Commercial or Community Landscape & Garden. The garden comprises of a series of distinct terraces, a farm shop, parking, and an amphitheatre for performance, picnics and star-gazing in the clear Puglian skies. The judges remarked on the lovely balance between a human scale and a landscape scale and called it ‘an absolutely stunning project with an exemplary quality of planting and forms and shapes that blend beautifully with the wider landscape and are perfectly suited to the climate’.
This year’s ‘one to watch’ is Emily Crowley-Wroe who was named as the best Fresh Designer for 2024. The judges called her modern cottage garden ‘a bold, seductive design’ remarking on the cleverly laid out space that they felt had led to a dramatic transformation and a very welcoming garden.
The Society introduced two new Awards this year. Matt Nichols MSGD was the first recipient of the new Designer & Landscape Contractor Award which was presented to him for a project titled ‘Living the Good Life’ that he created in collaboration with Creative Gardens & Driveways.
The new Sustainable Product Award which was judged by Rachel Bailey MSGD, the SGD’s lead on sustainability, was granted to PlantGrow Mulch. Rachel said PlantGrow Mulch was ‘a brilliant example of how quality products can be created through a closed loop circular economy, considering both the inputs and outputs in a way we should all be doing’.
Other awards on the night included the Paper Landscapes category which was won by Holly Birtles. The judges describe her entry as ‘an exemplary piece of design demonstrating an interesting and intelligent approach, strong themes and great environmental credentials. A model for the kind of approach we need to see going forward in the industry.’
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