One of the big differences for me between designing a private garden versus a community or public space is that in a private garden you are very much able to get to grips with who your client is, whereas in a public space I am acting as designer and client. Often in a public space people are motivated to be there for a very different reason than we are in our own gardens.
In Greenwich Park, for example, the garden I designed is on an axial route so people are experiencing it while journeying from one end of the park to another. This requires it to be more ambitious, more flamboyant, to steal your attention away from the wider surroundings. In contrast my garden for Great Ormond Street, which was last year’s Morgan Stanley show garden at Chelsea, became a green canvas on which people could project their own emotions. The garden was designed to be rebuilt at the hospital as a private and reflective space for parents and families of the children undergoing care, so it had to be a very quiet and intimate space.
I think it’s almost impossible to design a garden well that doesn’t evoke all the senses. Of course the senses are not being stimulated to the same level in every part of the garden, all the time, and part of the great choreographic challenge we have as designers is to temper the rewards we provide, to decide which sense to trigger and where it’s going to be most stimulated.