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Join us and get 10% OFF your first course

Design and create your dream country garden

Taught by Tom Stuart-Smith

Course Description

Learn the philosophy, technique and skill behind one of the greatest minds in garden design. If you are taking on your own garden design project and need some inspiration, tips and advice from a world class designer, this is the course for you!

During this course, you will learn the core principles of garden design from Tom’s work, and will learn how you can apply these to your own designs in a way which realises your artistic ambitions. You will explore Tom’s own design philosophy, and ways that his own garden reflects the history and culture of its surroundings. The overall ‘mood’ of your garden is the most important thing to have in mind when designing your plans, and this should be at the forefront of any decision you make in the garden. You will also be encouraged to consider what you can source locally, and how maintenance, feature choice, structure and soil type all have a part to play in bringing your plan to life.

You’ll have the opportunity to ask Tom and his team any question you’d like during this course, and will received detailed feedback on your plans. By the end of this course you will have designed the characterful and stunning garden which suits the mood and character of your landscape.

Course outline

  • Day Zero

    In this introductory lesson, Tom, one of the greatest names in landscape design of our time, tells the story of how he transformed a patch of wasteland into the spectacular, world renowned garden we see today. He will show you the 1984 plan of his dream garden which he drew as a student, and will then show you pictures showing the site as it was and how it is now, talking about his influences and key considerations.

    Tom will talk you through the principles of garden design philosophy as it is realised at the Barn – should a garden reflect the landscape or be in contrast to it - a microcosm of all that is best? He will look at some examples of widely contrasting projects to illustrate how making a garden should always be a unique response to its surroundings and the culture of the place.

  • Materials & Structures

    Tom will consider the range of different materials needed to make a garden. He will explore structure, looking at how landform, paving, walls, trees, bushes, shrubs and hedges can be used to make the bones of the garden.

    Very few gardens are made without moving earth and this has to be the first consideration. Will this improve a view? Will it give breathing space or make a terrace possible? You will then look at the spatial sequencing of a garden and think about how ways that you can apply these principles to your own project.

    You will explore the ideas of prospect and refuge – the underlying narrative can often be helpful in stitching together a pattern and plan of a garden. Garden design is like art, and Tom will let you in on his own artistic philosophy, and how the use of models, three-dimensional views and other art forms can be used to test and communicate ideas.

  • A garden of contrasts: Fertility and Water

    Tom will show you the variety of garden zones, focusing on different soil types and how these are managed. He will also discuss planting techniques involved and how management will differ.

    You will be taken on a whistle-stop tour of garden designs from other projects, ranging from central Spain to Chatsworth. This should give you a range of climates and soil types, helping you to design your own plan based on your means.

  • Designing your dream garden plot

    In this lesson Tom will bring together all you have learned and set you on designing your own dream plot. You will be taken on a tour of the community horticultural project he is developing on his own land. This will demonstrate three contrasting designs, giving you inspiration and practical ideas for your own plans.

Choose how you want to learn

  • The Expert option


    Develop your learning further with marked assignments and personal tuition from Tom Stuart-Smith

    • Start course anytime from July 27th 2020
    • 4 weeks tutor access for personalised assignment feedback & coaching
    • 4 assignments marked by Tom Stuart-Smith
    • Certificate of completion from Tom Stuart-Smith
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 4 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • Group chat & direct message with tutor & classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more
    Start anytime from July 27th 2020
  • The Peer option

    Discover the benefits of group learning in an online interactive classroom of no more than 20 people. Get the most from shared knowledge and community study

    • Start course anytime from July 27th 2020
    • Practise what you learn with your peers
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 4 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • 4 course assignments
    • Group chat & direct message classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more
    Start anytime from July 27th 2020

How it works

About Tom Stuart-Smith

Tom Stuart-Smith is a landscape architect whose work combines naturalism with modernity and built forms with romantic planting. He read Zoology at the University of Cambridge before completing a postgraduate degree in Landscape Design. Tom has since designed gardens, parks and landscapes throughout the world.

Significant projects in the public domain have included Her Majesty the Queen's Jubilee Garden at Windsor Castle, Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire, the Bicentenary Glasshouse Garden at RHS Garden Wisley and the Keeper’s House Garden at the Royal Academy of Arts.

International projects have included Le Jardin Secret in the heart of the medina in Marrakech, a garden located on the waterways near Kottayam in Kerala, and a show garden for the international horticulture exhibition at IGA Berlin 2017.

Current projects include a garden square at King’s Cross for Argent LLP and the Aga Khan Foundation, several projects at Chatsworth, a garden for the Scottish baronial estate of Aldourie Castle, a new public garden at the Hepworth Wakefield, and the masterplan for RHS Garden Bridgewater which is the largest new garden project in the UK.

He has also designed eight award winning gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show, all of which were presented with gold medals and three ‘Best in Show’.

Tom regularly gives talks and lectures, and continues to write occasionally for the Guardian, Financial Times and Daily Telegraph, amongst others. An exhibition on his work, the first about a living garden designer in the UK, was held at the Garden Museum in 2011. A monograph of his work to date is due to be published by Thames & Hudson in 2020. Tom is a Vice President of the Royal Horticultural Society, a trustee of the Garden Museum, Garden Advisor at RHS Wisley, an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA and a Fellow of the Landscape Institute.

Throughout his career Tom has also developed his own family garden at home in Hertfordshire, which is open to visitors each summer, by appointment.

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