Around 350 people headed to Palmstead Nurseries to take part in a workshop that looked at Design for Maintenance.
Chair of the event was Chelsea winner, Andy Sturgeon, and his talk opening the show highlighted some the techniques he has used in his own garden projects to ensure they retain their intended look.
"We frequently use plants that you can leave and they’ll get on with it - rosemaries, lavenders, yuccas; they remain fairly static and require minimal maintenance – in a large area it’s vital to get that right – you also get fantastic textures from using those varieties," said Andy Sturgeon.
He also explained how he produced a maintenance guide for each garden explaining when to cut hedges, the exact height of those hedges and when certain perennials should be pruned.
Interestingly, Andy found that when a small fee was charged for the maintenance guide it was used more often, in the past when it was given for free it often was just discarded and not read.
Noel Farrer, an experienced landscape architect and specialist in public spaces, spoke about the politics of urban spaces and wherever recent riots in the UK were a reflection of the environments people lived in.
"Nature creates environments that communities can delight in and which in turn can help them to deal with social issues," said Noel Farrer.
"If you create spaces that enable people to feel safe then you have an incredibly desirable place and a sustainable space, because people want to keep it desirable."
Again his experience of providing maintenance manuals for larger projects was similar to the small gardens of Andy Sturgeon, with the guides left 'sitting on dusty shelves'.
Noel argued that if you provide a 'social' space then it will be sustainable from a maintenance point of view – those living there will want to keep it, and will fight to keep it.
Other speakers at the event were Gill Chamberlain, who stressed that maintenance of a garden was a skill that was currently undervalued.
Professor James Hitchmough explained that his work involved 'finding ways of creating vegetation that’s rich and highly detailed but using pared down processes to their minimal essence'.
Garden designer James Alexander‐Sinclair stressed that any garden will change, nothing stays the same for the client, but importantly owners should enjoy their gardens and that no one has ever 'been arrested for having weeds in their garden'.
For more information on the Design for Maintenance workshop, visit the Palmstead Nurseries website featuring background notes from the speakers.