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Me & My Job - Stuart Charles Towner, garden designer, Hambrooks

Grow, 08 August 2014

Stuart Charles Towner, garden designer, Hambrooks - image: Hambrooks
Stuart Charles Towner, garden designer, Hambrooks - image: Hambrooks

How did you get started in the industry? Before Hambrooks I was at a local garden centre - Keydell Nurseries in Horndean, Hampshire - and I was doing a HNC at Sparsholt College while I was there. I decided I wanted to move on so I got the job at Hambrooks, where I've been for six-and-a-half years.

What advice would you give to others starting out? Go with your instincts and stay true to your principles. For me, it's about things you love bringing in - Gertrude Jekyll planting style, the arts and crafts movement and Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. That leads to original design and sits in context with your garden.

What is the best aspect of your job? Designing gardens for clients and getting that client satisfaction out of it for small or large gardens. I like being in control of the full package, from first meeting to build. As a designer you're involved the whole way.

And the worst? My beef is that garden designers don't get the respect they deserve and pushing education is the key thing for the future. There are minimum standards for registered architects and doctors, and good designers should move that way to give a bigger understanding to the profession.

What does your typical job involve? Our average garden is £15,000 and we're very busy this year. There was an explosion of work in March. The weather was on the turn and the recession is over. I started six years ago just before the recession and things are now getting back to that level. We've had a good pay rise. I recently designed the £13,000 Halo garden at Hampton Court.

What does the future hold? Finishing my degree. You can never stop learning.

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