Image credit © Tom Stuart-Smith

16 May 2011

New exhibition at the Garden Museum puts the spotlight on one of Britain’s most enigmatic garden designers and six of his private gardens

Tom Stuart-Smith is one of the most influential and admired garden designers working today. He has won eight Gold Medals for gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show, was responsible for creating a new garden at Windsor Castle to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 and for the reinvention of England’s largest formal garden at Trentham in Staffordshire. For the first time, his work will form the basis of a major exhibition at the Garden Museum in London. Taking six beautiful private gardens as its focus Planting Paradise: the Gardens of Tom Stuart-Smith will provide an insight in to his creative process and explore how his work is dynamised by the reconciliation of opposites: connection versus separation, order versus naturalism, and openness versus enclosure.

The exhibition will reveal the story of Tom Stuart-Smith’s own garden as well opening the door on three epic country house gardens and two London gardens designed by him. Extensive photographs and large-scale drawings will be on display alongside six specially-commissioned films, which reveal how each garden changes in response to the seasons.
Known for his work as a landscape designer working on a large canvas, and inspired by natural and semi-natural planting schemes like meadows and prairies, Tom Stuart-Smith’s gardens are modern, elegant and uncluttered.

The Gardens:

The Barn, Hertfordshire
Stuart-Smith’s own garden, created with his wife Sue over 25 years, on the edge of his family’s estate: a series of interlocking semi-enclosed spaces surrounded by an open meadow of trees and wildflowers. Their book, telling the story of the garden, will be published to coincide with the exhibition.

Broughton Grange, Oxfordshire
The first large-scale garden: a one acre enclosed space, consisting of three terraces, with views out over the Oxfordshire countryside.

Whitehall, Norfolk
Two contrasting gardens by the sea: a wild, open garden situated between house and sea and a highly ordered enclosed garden protected from the elements.

Mount St John, Yorkshire
A garden inspired by the most remarkable view: a series of terraces in front of an eighteenth century house.

Moon terrace, The Connaught Hotel, London
The enclosed garden, surrounded on three sides by five storey buildings and on the forth by a 12 foot stone wall: a cloud-pruned tree leans over black water while a moon image shimmers on the water’s surface.

Thornhill Road, London
A garden as close to a box as one can get: densely populated with tree ferns, grasses and box, it is both primitive and exotic.

Tom Stuart-Smith has won eight Gold Medals for gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show, including three awards for Best Garden in Show. His work includes a new garden at Windsor Castle to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the transformation of Trentham in Staffordshire and the creation of a new garden around the bicentenary Glasshouse at RHS Wisley. He studied Zoology at Cambridge University and then read Landscape Design at Manchester University. He has been practising as a landscape architect since 1984, and runs a practice based in Clerkenwell in central London.