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Modern garden design has moved on greatly in the nineteen years since I graduated.

As a designer of modern gardens, I have to keep abreast of these changes or be left behind. I am fortunate that I teach at KLC School of Design in Chelsea Harbour and am constantly being recharged and challenged by the ideas, methods and attitudes of the student garden designers.

Rather than to upload endless images of garden in the construction stage, I will leave that to my twitter feed! I have decided to use the blog section of my site to look areas where changes to garden design are greatest.

The first area I will tackle is presentation style.

When I enrolled  on Capel Manor College’s Garden Design Course, I was given a list of  items I was required to purchase;  a set of Rotring Pens, two set squares, a scale rule, a set of compasses, a protractor and last but not least an A2 Drawing Board.

Rotring Pens are something every student Garden Designer came to hate. The nibs are concentric steel tubes with a fine wire running down the centre ( I know this as I have broken many) in 0.1, 0.3 and 0.5mm. These are fuelled with liquid ink from a manually filled cartridge. It was easy spot garden design students in the refectory as they were the ones with black fingers from filling these pens.

Drawing along plastic set squares, rules and parallel motions was something of a skill as the ink was often sucked by capillary action into the space between the plastic and the paper, producing a feathered line 5mm thick rather than 0.5!

Despite their difficulty, these pens were industry standard and we used them for many years. Even perfecting the skill of holding all three simultaneously so we could drawing all horizontal lines of different thickness in one pass of the parallel motion.

At college, dare I say it, the style was somewhat Edwardian! Colour rendering was taught in water colours and water soluble coloured pencils. This even at the time, felt incongruous to the designs being produced and perhaps due to my scepticism,  my renderings in this style looked more like those of a child at kindergarten than a fledgling Garden Designer.

In Practice we developed a style of rendering more in keeping with our style, using Pantone markers. Time consuming but bold and at the time contemporary.

We were happily drawing away with this equipment until one day my junior designer at the time booked us onto a seminar about CAD in garden design. From that day onwards, things were never the same.

In my next post I will explore the use of Computer Aided Design in garden design.

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