Sarah believes in plant-driven design. She is developing a visual vocabulary using plants; their shapes, forms and patterns to compose her designs. Through an overview of past and current work she will give real examples and show how her design processes work. She will discuss how she developed her renowned Olympic garden and about her 2018 Chelsea Garden.
Alan and Graham bought East Ruston Old Vicarage in 1973. It had been empty for the previous two years with no garden there at all. Over the years, starting in 1989, they had the opportunity to purchase some of the former glebe land that had originally surrounded the Vicarage plus a bit extra. It occurred to them then that because of the modern farming methods a huge amount of wildlife habitat had been lost. Hedges, ditches, banks and ponds all swept away and so armed with the ordnance survey map from the 1880’s they decided to put back some of this valuable shelter. Gradually the original garden that had been created within the confines of the two acres was moved out into the newer land, and areas such as the clematis borders were scaled up to become larger and more interesting. Over the years the garden has grown further and now totals 32 acres.
East Ruston Old Vicarage and its garden are a reflection of the love, care and attention that Adam and Graham have invested over many years, and we are very excited to have Alan with us to tell us about his labour of love with this remarkable property and its stunning gardens.
Sarah Price has rapidly established herself as one of the most prominent and sought-after garden designers in Britain. Drawing on a prior training in fine art and a life-long love of wild and natural environments, her gardens have an immersive quality and are often described as ‘painterly’.
Her practice is unusual for its breadth and scope of work. Sarah co-designed the 2012 Gardens at London’s Olympic Park and was a planting consultant for LDA Design on the post-Games legacy design. Price continues to work on a number of large public planting schemes as well as private projects. These include new community gardens and an exciting ‘play’ landscape designed in collaboration with MUMA for Cambridge University; an “Art Garden” at Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery sponsored by Jo Malone; and a garden inspired by the New Forest for a new Maggies Centre in Southhampton designed by architects AL_A.
Price’s designs have collected numerous awards, most notably at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2012, where her Daily Telegraph Garden received a Gold Medal. Sarah is a contributing editor for Gardens Illustrated and also writes regularly for House and Garden and The Telegraph. In 2016 Sarah was awarded Garden Columnist of year by the Garden Media Guild for her monthly series on landscape design.
Sarah is a visiting lecturer in planting design at the Department of Landscape at Sheffield University and has lectured at the New York Botanical Gardens, Kew Gardens, the Royal Academy, and The Royal Geographical Society in London.
She graduated with a First class BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University in 2002 and from 2002 – 2003 worked for a year as a full time gardener at Hampton Court Palace, London.
Alan Gray began his working life working for Anglia Television in Norfolk, England as a mail boy delivering the internal mail in this busy award winning television company. It was a lowly position but to a starry eyed youngster it was show business and all the glamour that that entailed. After a few years he had worked his way up the ladder eventually becoming a film editor until the day he realised that to further his career he would need to spread his wings. Eventually he felt confident to break away from the safety of Anglia Television and become a free lance film editor in London. His move to the metropolis was further prompted when he met Graham his partner, now husband who have now been together for over 40 years, something of an achievement in this day and age.
Little did he realise that great changes were around the corner for suddenly he was presented with the chance to run a prestigious store selling English antiques many of which found their way to the United States for an American Antique dealer called Alistair Steel from New York city was a frequent buyer. Alistair liked the idea that Alan could search the length and breadth of Great Britain finding fine quality furniture that had not been seen in the trade. Alan’s shop in London was situated in Crawford Street in the heart of the West End and was laid out like a country home. Here flowers paid an important part adding luxurious and homely touches to his displays and allowing potential customers to see how his furniture might look in their homes.
By this time Alan and Graham had bought a country house for themselves in Norfolk around 120 miles from London. The Old Vicarage at East Ruston was their bolt hole that they retired to every weekend where they enjoyed creating a garden, do look it up on the internet, it might surprise you. This garden provided much of the flowers and foliage that Alan used in his shop. With the passage of time and with the advent of modern technology they were able to move to the Old Vicarage full time, Alan to garden and Graham building an office in the garden from which he runs his business. Their garden is now regarded as one of the foremost modern gardens in Great Britain. It occupies a 32 acre site and is a labour of love that is open to visitors for eight months of the year, it is also a partnership garden to the Royal Horticultural Society for which it raises money.
Throughout his life, Alan has continued to work with flowers both in his home and in churches and the cathedral in Norwich, Norfolk’s fine city. Today he finds that informality is the key with floral art taking on a looser feel but as we all know fashions come and fashions go so we must ask ourselves how long will this current trend last. Who knows and who cares, all that Alan asks is that he is able to continue his work with flowers and gardens, spreading the word that a life in horticulture, however tenuous that might be, is an enormously satisfying one.