Garden Design Diploma -

Holly Fleming

Garden Designer

What was your background before KLC?
I was lucky enough to study at the UCLA school of Art and Architecture (University of California Los Angeles) and received a BA (hons) in Fine Art, specialising in Ceramics and Oil Painting. I graduated in 2013 and then undertook the project management of a complete farmhouse renovation - sourcing all materials, scheduling the build, controlling budget and overseeing a team of 10 workmen.

Why did you decide to study garden design?
I really enjoyed project managing and the communication and organisational skills required, and I have always loved the outdoors, so it seemed like a good way to combine these two things, whilst still having a creative output. Shortly after finishing the renovation I was watching the coverage from RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014 and something seemed to just click - how amazing would it be if you could design gardens for a living. That started me researching schools and set me off on this journey.

What did you think of the course?
The course is very ambitious, very challenging, slightly overwhelming at times but so worth it. It is both all-encompassing and all-consuming, preparing us well for life after the course. KLC really do demand a lot from us, but that helps us to grow as much as possible in a short time frame - it is amazing what they squeeze into just one year.  

Q. What are your design interests/strengths?
I think I am generally a good all-rounder. I love construction and hard landscape detailing but a garden is nothing without plants and they are a big part of what influences my creativity. What is so special about this field is how many different disciplines a good designer should have.

Which are your favourite gardens?
There are too many to mention, I really do get my inspiration from all over the place and try to visit different gardens as much as possible but I suppose there are three that have really captivated me this year. I love Trebah Garden in Cornwall - there are intimate spaces created all over the garden and I love how water is incorporated through a series of pools.  The Koi Pond is a particular favourite. 

The second would have to be Great Dixter, each time I go something different inspires me and its great for expanding your plant knowledge.

The third would have to be Chanticleer Garden, I was lucky enough to do work experience there this summer and so got a behind the scenes look at all aspects of the garden, living on site as well. There are seven head gardeners and each has his own section of the garden to transform into their own playground of plants, it is an absolutely breathtaking garden unlike any other and its astounding how hard the team works to keep it that way.

Who is your favourite designer?
I don’t have one definitive favourite designer but rather several that inspire me. I love Jinny Blom’s style and the breadth of work she undertakes, I love Erik Dhont’s use of 3D model-making and his sculptural topiary, as well as the Bannerman’s use of materials and planting. 

I admire Arne Maynard’s cohesive designs, as well as Andy Sturgeon’s more contemporary work. I am constantly discovering new designers and work that is just beautiful, and i think that’s really exciting.

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