Want to know more about how Show Gardens are judged at the Chelsea Flower Show? Here’s part two of my interview with Andrew Wilson, teacher, author, garden designer and RHS judge for the past 17 years.
- Would you agree that show gardens have become more sophisticated over the last few years?
Yes certainly, having been a judge for 17 years this year I can’t help but notice how gardens have moved on. I photograph each year and although there are splendid examples from each year, the overall trend is for increased experimentation, higher quality of build, plantsmanship, spatial character etc. I get a real buzz from the show gardens and it remains a privilege to see them in detail as I work through the judging process. Although RHS shows are often criticised for the horticultural emphasis there remain few platforms in which designers can proclaim their skills, concepts, ideas and capabilities and I think we all need to promote that point.
- Have you noticed any trends appearing over the last two or three years?
I try to box clever on trends and I tend to focus on the design quality in front of me when I judge. The gradual change of emphasis onto a more perennial palette is notable especially when you look back over the last decade. More sustainable ideas are percolating through the gardens and there is much more experimentation with new materials and building technology than journalists ever give air play to. Most focus on the planting which is a given but it would be fair to balance this from time to time with some of the more inventive ideas that can find their way into our day to day design work.
- How do you relax when you’re away from the world of garden design?
I relax in many ways although my wife probably feels I don’t relax enough. I love to ride my motorbike – the silence allows me to think about all sorts of things and reflect in a way that doesn’t happen elsewhere.
I swim regularly which also has this same quality, although it often means I forget how many lengths I’ve completed.
I also sing – I’m a tenor and sing with the Weybridge Male Voice Choir and with Mosaic Choir, a Woking based chamber-choir. I often solo with them too – this concentration on a different art form delivers a form of relaxation although I find the sight reading hard work. Although I have a trained voice I never really concentrated on reading music – too impatient probably. But when I sing well I’m transported to a truly fab place that I can never quite communicate to others.
Otherwise I love good food and don’t really mind what form it takes – my wife and I love to entertain & cook for others, to be fed and entertained by others or to just go out for something good. Now that my children are just about out of teens that means a re-focus on us as a couple and I’m looking forward to it if I can just find the time!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into all the work that goes into the judging process, if you missed part one of the interview, you’ll find it here
The Chelsea Flower Show opens on the 22nd May and tickets can be booked here.
Andrew Wilson: www.wmstudio.co.uk
photo: Jill Anderson