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Expert advice

Winter reflections

During the winter period a reflective mood prevails. The garden sleeps with frosts and snow already evident in many areas. The weather made 2012 a remarkable year with an early declaration of drought closely followed by a record wet summer perhaps best symbolised by the deluge that greeted the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations on the Thames.

Finally the sun prevailed and the Olympics shone as a beacon of sporting prowess within colourful sweeps of pictorial meadows and perennial plantings that represented the continents of the world within the Olympic Park. Seed Developments hopes to work with the designers responsible for one of the world’s most admired landscapes, James Hitchmough and Nigel Dunnett, from the University of Sheffield, exploring the way in which larger scale seed carpets may introduce a new technology to the establishment of meadow and roof top habitats. We will keep you posted on new developments over the coming year.

There have been other causes for celebration with my practice celebrating successes at the inaugural Society of Garden Designers Awards. The new Rose Garden at Savill Garden was awarded best communal space and a large private garden in Surrey walked away with the People’s Choice Award run in co-operation with Homes & Gardens magazine. The same two gardens won Gold in America with the APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers) making it a great year for the Wilson McWilliam Studio. We have another garden in Hertfordshire submitted for a contractor’s award in the BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) Awards Ceremony. Fingers crossed!

One other award ceremony intrigued me for other reasons. I was invited to judge blogs in the Garden Media Guild Awards, enabling me to explore some splendid examples of this relatively new form of communication. Writers such as Michelle Chapman were celebrated as finalists, recognising her approach to productive gardening in particular with her 52-week salad challenge. The use of cut and come again salads is perfect for Seed Developments seed mats and tapes, making home grown fresh and tasty produce accessible to a wider range of gardeners, especially those new to this hobby. 2012’s winner of the category was the Guardian Gardening Blog that uses a range of contributors to expand the range of topics covered to include wider environmental issues that affect the garden and our landscape.

As bulbs start to emerge and the buds full of the coming year’s promise are revealed as the last few leaves finally drop, winter is really a period of optimism.  Winter flowering cherry, honeysuckle and Viburnum make the delicate link with the first snowdrops, hellebores and witch hazel that herald the onset of spring.