Diploma in Garden Design -

Clare Braham

Garden Designer

What were you doing before KLC and why did you decide to study with the school?
I worked for many years in an office-based job as a finance and administration manager for local government. I had always harboured an abiding passion for gardens, garden design and plants and wanted to expand my knowledge and experience, so embarked on a one year placement as a WRAGS trainee with the Women’s Farm and Gardens Association. I was based at Barnsdale Gardens in Rutland, gardens created by the late Geoff Hamilton, famous for presenting BBC Gardeners’ World and also where Adam Frost trained.

I loved the versatility of the course being offered by the KLC as it fitted in very well with work and family commitments. Life has this notorious habit of getting in the way sometimes, so being able to pick-up and put down the course, when necessary, was very appealing.

Can you identify some of the highlights and challenges of your time studying with KLC?The course was hard work but thoroughly enjoyable. I particularly liked putting together the concepts for the designs and the drawing and rendering of them. I also loved researching plant choices.

The staff at the KLC were always very helpful with any queries I had. Some parts of the course involved a steep learning curve.

I always used to enjoy receiving the marks and feedback when I had submitted a project. Undoubtedly, the ultimate highlights were being awarded a Distinction for my diploma and being presented with Runner-Up in the KLC Student of the Year Award.

How has your career evolved since graduating? Tell us about your professional experiences and employment thus far.
I have set up my own garden design practice based in Kent - Ammonite Gardens & Design – and have been building my business, my brand and developing a portfolio of designs with clients.

I have also invested in a Vectorworks licence to develop my skills in CAD drawing. Now that I am a pre-registered member of the Society of Garden Designers, I have also taken part in their one-year business mentoring scheme, which is proving very useful.

Proof that I can’t get enough of plants and garden design, outside of the business I have taken on some volunteering opportunities via the KLC. Last year, I was on one of the planting teams for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where I spent several days helping on a main avenue garden. I was also involved in a similar endeavour at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show on Matthew Childs’ Smart Meter Garden which was awarded 'Best in Show' and Gold.

Lastly, since late 2019 I have co-organised the Society of Garden Designers Kent cluster group, a networking group which is proving a great way to share ideas and chats with other designers.

What kind of projects have you been working on recently?

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I learned from the Business Mentoring Scheme was to think carefully about what kind of garden designer you want to be and what kind of gardens you want to design.

I developed Ammonite Gardens and Design with a clear sense of wanting to work with nature to build sustainable gardens with wildlife and home-owners in mind. That ethos comes across in a couple of recent projects I have been working on – a coastal garden on an exposed ridge overlooking the English Channel and a woodland scheme in a shady garden in rural Kent.

I have also been working on a freelance basis, which has been a great opportunity to work and learn with other designers.

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