Grand ges­tures and off­beat visions

The Daily Telegraph - Gardening - - Front Page -

De­sign­ers Julian and Is­abel Ban­ner­man have added fresh drama to some of Bri­tain’s great gar­dens. Mary Keen dis­cov­ers what drives them

Julian and Is­abel Ban­ner­man are gar­den de­sign­ers by ap­point­ment to HRH the Prince of Wales and have been dream weavers to many other own­ers of large gar­dens. In­cur­able ro­man­tics, their idols are off­beat vi­sion­ar­ies, and they live life to the ef­fort­less max. The Ban­ner­mans met at Ed­in­burgh, where Is­abel was read­ing His­tory and His­tory of Art and Julian was run­ning Ban­ner­man’s Bar, which was the in-place for ev­ery­one con­nected with the fes­ti­val and the arts. Af­ter ex­pe­ri­ence film­ing, build­ing and paint­ing (“but you have the hands of a sculp­tor, not a painter”, Henry Moore told him), Julian ended up in Ed­in­burgh, work­ing for Richard De­marco’s gallery. De­marco, the Scot­tish painter and arts pro­moter, lit the touch­pa­per for the Tra­verse Theatre and count­less wider con­tem­po­rary projects, and he cer­tainly qual­i­fies as an “off­beat vi­sion­ary”. Julian de­scribes the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with De­marco as “a walk­ing Open Univer­sity”.

Both Ban­ner­mans have been ob­sessed with ar­chi­tec­ture since child­hood. They still are, con­fess­ing that their in­spi­ra­tion al­ways comes from man-made build­ings and places. Is­abel says “we hate a wilder­ness”. The first time I came across them was when they were work­ing on the cre­ation of the grotto at Leeds Cas­tle, with sculp­tor Si­mon Ver­ity. Two of my daugh­ters were also help­ing out over a long sum­mer hol­i­day. It sounded wild. They all slept in an empty house and danced out­side to the car ra­dio. The daugh­ters loved it.

In 1990 I was asked by Lord Roth­schild to help him choose a designer to re­store the Pul­hamite rock­work be­hind the Dairy at Wad­des­don Manor in Buck­ing­hamshire. The meet­ing was held in a Lon­don heat­wave and Is­abel, a beau­ti­ful nymph to Julian’s Bac­chus, ar­rived in black linen shorts. Com­pared with the land­scape ar­chi­tects who were their com­peti­tors, they just looked so cool

Vi­sion­ar­ies: the Ban­ner­mans, left, and their Campo Santo at Worm­s­ley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.