Barcham Trees’ latest free-of-charge seminar was tailored to the interests of garden designers and led by Amanda Patton, who has been designing for private and commercial clients since 2000, with 160 gardens to her credit. Her company Amanda Patton Landscape & Garden Design was a natural progression from the 20 years she had previously spent as a professional illustrator following a degree in Textile Design, which developed her appreciation of colour, touch and texture.
Looking back to her childhood, she told delegates that having been good at both art and mathematics at school, and with a love of the natural world, the seeds of becoming a landscape designer were sown early in her life. Her career began as an archaeological illustrator, drawing items such as Neolithic flints and pieces of pottery, which called for precise, detailed work.
Amanda then moved into illustrating gardening books, including all except one of Alan Titchmarsh’s gardening titles, plus publications from Frances Lincoln and Reader’s Digest. Having designed her own garden, she then embarked upon a correspondence course on planting, which she soon outgrew. Her design work takes inspiration from classical geometry and proportions, employing horizontal and vertical lines and planes to frame views or to lead the eye in a certain direction.
Inspiration comes from nature, light, the seasons and colour; Amanda is intrigued by contrasts in tone and the subtleties of light. But it was the five elements of design she discussed with her Barcham audience. Line directs our vision and where we look, leading our eyes round the space. Form allows the viewer to understand what he or she looks at as they try to recognise shapes. Texture gives depth and allows a play with perspective, colour provides mood and atmosphere, while value shows or accentuates form; it is form which Amanda feels is most important in a garden.
We read a line from left to right, and use plant shapes to direct the eye in the garden. Before any designing begins, Amanda believes it is important to ask what it is we wish to achieve. As regards value and colour, tonal variation is important and, although few appreciate the value of tone, it is very important in a garden. From a distance a meadow may look green, but when we walk through it we become aware of its texture, with grasses giving a dynamic texture at close quarters.
Amanda especially likes creating semi-naturalistic plantings, employing perennial plants and grasses chosen for their ability to catch light and create good textural combinations when not in flower. Trees, hedges and clipped forms of box, yew and beech also figure structurally in her designs.
After lunch and the opportunity to network, delegates were given a tour of Barcham’s extensive 350-acre nursery, which has more than 200,000 trees and is the largest container tree nursery in Europe.
For further details of Amanda Patton’s work, log on at www.amandapatton.co.uk
Report by: Colin Hambidge