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A plant lover's career

By garden designer Faith Ramsay. I am surprised that I have become a garden designer, as I came from a family without a green thumb between them. I always loved plants and flowers as a child, but I didn't have a clue what to do with or how to grow them.

A plant lover's career by garden designer Faith Ramsay

After graduating university, I spent 15 years working in finance which was something I happened to be good at, rather than getting any great enjoyment out of. A house move out of London and starting a family meant that I had the opportunity to review my career choice. After a series of physical and mental health challenges exacerbated by my hectic work schedule it was clear that something had to change.

The house in the country came with a large garden that seemed a daunting challenge for someone with little practical experience of gardening.  So I embarked on a series of horticulture courses, which I loved, and gave me the knowledge to start making meaningful changes to my own garden. 

A second career focussing on the love of plants and design

After working on my own garden and redesigning friends gardens, I took the plunge and signed up for a Planting Design Diploma.  It was at this time I found Shoot, which proved to be an invaluable resource for my own garden as well as completing ever more challenging homework for my diploma.

I set up my own design practice, My Country Garden Design Solutions (www.mycountrygarden.co.uk) in 2013 and have been happily designing gardens in Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire since then. I have now found a career which supports my physical and mental health rather than challenges it. And I still find myself using Shoot to provide planting suggestions or maintenance guidance to my clients.

Becoming the Chair of Thrive

Thrive Gardening

I am a great believer in the restorative and transformative power of gardens and gardening to make meaningful and beneficial changes to people’s lives. Therefore, I was delighted to become a Trustee of Thrive, the UK’s leading horticultural therapy charity, three years ago.  I am honoured to have recently become Chair of this fantastic charity, which provides social and therapeutic horticulture programmes at three main centres in the UK as well as training horticulture therapists to deliver programmes elsewhere. The difference this can make to people with physical or mental health challenges is inspiring.

A newly designed garden

The garden design I have most recently completed is one in Silchester. The client had previously engaged two other landscape companies who had both taken the money and then declared themselves bankrupt leaving the client with a series of holes in the ground but not the dream garden she had planned!  The client had not been a keen gardener, but she had many memories of her mother lovingly tending her own garden and so she was keen to persevere with the project to create a link with her mother and to have a magical garden for her two lovely young grandchildren to play in.

A plant lover's career by garden designer Faith Ramsay

The garden itself was heavily sloping, with challenging soil and heavily shaded on one side.  However, it had the most wonderful aspect out to surrounding woodland that brought a lot of joy to my client and her husband. The existing planting was heavy on greenery with spring flowers, but did not have much interest beyond that season.

A plant lover's career by garden designer Faith Ramsay

The client had a love for an unusual mix of plants like Fatsia japonica, Pulmonaria and Hellebores which had proved ‘bomb proof’ in her garden. As well as lovely memories of plants from her mothers garden like Saxifrage London Pride and roses and even some plants that came from her mother’s garden such as fantastic Deutzia.

A plant lover's career by garden designer Faith Ramsay

I designed a planting scheme that brought together the existing plants in the woodland area like Hellebores, Lily of the Valley and Solomon’s Seal with some of the plants that the client loved, to create a scheme that would have year round foliage interest and flower colour from Spring through into Autumn. 

The scheme is full of easy to care for plants so my client can spend time in the garden with her grandchildren and enjoying the wildlife without too much onerous maintenance  - but I will definitely be pointing her in the direction of Shoot for some tips!

Plant list

Amelanchier lamarckii
Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'
Campanula lactiflora 'Prichard's Variety'
Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata 'Nora Barlow' (Barlow Series)
Nepeta x faassenii
Astrantia major subsp. involucrata 'Shaggy'
Syringa vulgaris 'Madame Lemoine'
Penstemon 'White Bedder'
Convallaria majalis
Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'
Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'
Helleborus orientalis
Choisya x dewitteana 'Aztec Pearl'
Fatsia japonica
Lavatera x clementii 'Barnsley Baby'
Iris 'Jane Phillips'
Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Tom Thumb'
Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau'
Monarda 'Beauty of Cobham'
Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki'
Viburnum opulus 'Roseum'
Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
Cornus 'Eddie's White Wonder'
Liriope muscari
Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'
Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'
Pulmonaria 'Blue Ensign'
Viburnum x juddii
Anemone hupehensis 'September Charm'
Astrantia 'Roma'
Geranium 'Orion'
Phlox paniculata 'Mount Fuji'
Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Arundel Green'
Athyrium 'Ursula's Red'
Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Brother'
Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata 'Blue Barlow' (Barlow Series)
Rosa 'Claire Austin'
Penstemon 'Stapleford Gem'
Phlox paniculata 'Blue Paradise'
Hakonechloa macra
Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian White' (Dalmatian Series)
Saxifraga (London Pride Group) 'Miss Chambers'
Phlox paniculata 'Blue Evening'
Polygonatum verticillatum 'Rubrum'
By Faith Ramsay

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