Name: Joanne Murray
Course: Part Time Diploma Garden Design
What was your background before KLC?
I have an academic background and have lectured in English literature, cultural studies and academic skills at Birkbeck College, London South Bank University and Kingston University. My PhD thesis and associated publications explore aftermath aesthetics in New Brutalist forms, including architecture, visual art, installation space and literature. I also worked as Academic Advisor to the Embassy of the UAE in London.
Why did you decide to study Garden Design?
I have loved gardening since I was a child, growing my first vegetables as soon as I could walk! I worked on a farm growing fruit and vegetables throughout my childhood, teenage and university years, and I have continued my passion for vegetable growing for the past ten years on my allotment. My academic research interests are design orientated, but are also interdisciplinary, so the field of garden design seemed to offer me an all in one package that appealed to many of my interests. Garden design dips into so many different areas, from construction to plant science and beyond, so it is a constant source of inspiration for my enquiring mind!
What did you think of the course?
It was such a pleasure to spend the year acquiring so much knowledge. The course requires a great deal of commitment and self-directed study though, which was very challenging at times, particularly as the workload is so intense. I have gained many new skills, however, and I learned a great deal about myself and how I work.
What are your design interests/strengths?
I enjoy exploring landscapes and take inspiration from everything around me, particularly the natural world, architecture and visual art. I find it inspiring to travel and see plants grow in their natural habitats. I was lucky enough to travel around Latin America for six months in 2013-2014, and I was bowled over by the diversity of habitats and fascinating plants found throughout the region. I have a great eye for the details in design and I enjoy working with clients to help them realise their ideal garden.
What plant best represents you?
I love growing Dahlias, because of the incredible range of form and colour that they offer. Dahlias attract many bees to my allotment and they paint the landscape with vivid splashes of colour in the autumn. Finally, the more you cut them, the more they grow!
Which are your favourite gardens?
I love to visit Wisley throughout the year; it is a great garden to watch how the different seasons develop and look at plants up close. Other favourite gardens include Bodnant and Chatsworth, because of their impressive sense of scale.
Who is your favourite designer?
I like the work of Acres Wild, because of the way in which their designs reflect the wider landscape. I also admire Tom Stuart Smith’s work for its boldness, contrasts and richness of form and texture.
Jo as a child with one of her first garden plans, and Allium on her allotment