Char­lotte Har­ris

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Gardening Talent -

My ear­li­est memories of gar­den­ing are be­ing in the gar­den with my grand­fa­ther and mother. I had a lovely child­hood climb­ing trees, mak­ing forts, be­ing very free. At week­ends I helped my mother in the gar­den – that was our time to­gether. It’s been quite in­for­ma­tive in my think­ing about how im­por­tant green spa­ces are – how­ever small they are, or in any kind of rough-and-tum­ble ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment – and that we re­ally should be de­fend­ing those.

I am a ca­reer changer (I came from a not-for­profit back­ground) and af­ter do­ing my gar­den de­sign diploma I started work­ing with Tom Stu­art-Smith. Every­one is aware of his mas­tery in plant­ing but his skill in de­sign and his ab­so­lute rigour around hard land­scap­ing gave me the great­est train­ing you could ever have. There was a real gen­eros­ity in the stu­dio around shar­ing and learn­ing.

The gar­dens I’m drawn to and as­pire to make are places you could lose your­self in, where you don’t quite know where the gar­den ends and land­scape be­gins. They will also, per­haps, en­com­pass a slow­ness in the re­veal, and that might not just be the move­ment through it but also a sea­sonal re­veal. I’m drawn to gar­dens that are time­less. When I was in Toronto I went to Martha Schwartz’s lovely city park, Yorkville. It was made in the mid 1990s and while you could tell it was of a dif­fer­ent plant­ing era it felt time­less and that to me is an in­cred­i­ble skill.

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