a gardeners’ gardener

Sarah Price

Sarah Price is one of the darlings of English gardening world.  If the standing room only crowd yesterday at NYBG is any measure, Price has  gained celebrity status in the American gardening world.  And I know why.  She is a good designer, but more than that, there is no BS about her.


Olympic Park plantings


A drawing by Price of the Olympic Park plantings

Price spoke candidly about her evolution as a garden designer … from a child walking up a country lane in Wales with her father to art school to seeing the Piet Oudolf borders at Wisley to the establishment of her current reputation, as one of the designers of the Olympic Park borders.’s hard to remember, as Sarah pointed out, how revolutionary the Oudolf style was.  Today, many people find those large drifts of plants combined with hedges as old-fashioned. In 2016, it is hard to grasp how influential they were. I include myself in the group, who were amazed and impacted, by the Oudolf plantings… the freshness and artistry of his work.


Olympic Park plantings

Price is well-known for her layering of plants and intermingling of species.  She believes gardens need to be immersive, imaginative experiences.  She talked in detail, about the design of the Olympic gardens:  the engineered soil, the deep layer of sand, why maintenance was almost unnecessary, and the ecological balance of the plantings.


Drawing by Sarah Price

She has moved away from creating these kind of plant communities; to looking at landscape, the way she first saw it as a child.  She calls this style a conservation approach to  “managed habitat.”

pricePrice gave examples of her current use of trees and shrubs in gardens.  In a funny aside, she showed this illustration from a book she reads to her three year old daughter.  “My daughter likes the car; I like the tree. “


Photograph by Josef Sudek

Prices’ art background, informs her view of landscape. She is an expert user of sketch-up, photoshop and indesign. But Price also  believes in drawing with your hand. “I am not interested in copying nature, but I am inspired by being in it.”

Price recommended the following book: Garden Design by Sylvia Crowe.
I have never heard of it, but I am going to get it.



Sylvia Crowe

16th Annual Winter Lecture Series at NYBG.  The third and last lecture , “The Art of Making Gardens” will be given by Luciano Giubbilei.









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