Garden designer Juliet Sargeant says more can be done to attract different cultures and ethnicities into the horticulture industry.
Sargeant is believed to be the first black designer to design a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Her Modern Slavery garden will be featured in the Fresh section this year’s show.
“I don’t come across any other black garden designers when I’m out and about so in a sense it’s not surprising they are not at Chelsea because I don’t see them. But that doesn’t mean black people aren’t interested in gardening and design. If there is an issue, the issue is engaging people of other cultures and ethnicities and I do wonder if perhaps more could be done. I know people always blame the media but more could be done in the media. What we’re offered is very much the typical English garden, but perhaps that is not as relevant to people of multiple cultures and ethnicities that live In Britain,” she says.
“There are lots of gardening styles and different ways, growing different food and with different ideas.”
“The question in my mind is whether that is being represented and whether we encourage young people of all cultures and ethnicities to come into gardening and design. I suspect not.”
Sargeant, a former junior doctor who studied garden design at Middlesex University from 1996-99 added: “The whole issue of attracting young people into gardening is an added problem.”
The former Society of Garden Designers chairwoman said: “It’s great to see more women at Chelsea this year. I’ve been down in the dumps for the last couple of years about the number of women on main avenue but at Hampton Court it’s great to see lots of new female talent coming through and I’m looking forward to Hampton Court 2015 designers coming to Chelsea in the future. If they don’t then we should be asking questions.”
Cleve West, who is Anglo-Indian and is designing for M&G at Chelsea this year, has also questioned the lack of different ethnicities represented in high profile horticulture, but said he did not know what the solution was.
What do you think? How can we attract and engage people from all cultures and backgrounds into the wonderful world of horticulture and garden design?