Our live Q&A with Royal Horticultural Society ‘Young Designer of the Year’ winner Freddie Strickland, via our Instagram takeover, was a roaring success, with Freddie being asked some really in-depth questions, from which he was able to provide some priceless titbits of garden design wisdom. A truly wonderful time was had by all, and Freddie was in his element strolling through the stunning Hotel Meudon garden, soaking in its subtropical splendour and exchanging ideas and stories with our gardening team.
We managed to pin Freddie down to ask him a few questions of our own on his garden design journey, and his experience at Hotel Meudon. He is a busy man and we really appreciate him taking the time to shed a little light on his back story.
Can you tell us a little bit about why you got into gardening?
I was inspired to get into the industry through an emerging love of plants, and soon thereafter taking ownership of my own green space. It was a tricky coastal garden in need of renovation and became a place to learn and make mistakes. My grandmother was a fantastic gardener and loved all things horticultural, I’m sure she had something to do with it too.
Why did you decide to study in Cornwall? And the Eden Project?
I was living and working in Cornwall at the time, and the calling to change careers while still at a young age was too much to resist! The Eden project had a fantastic course taught by Matt James, it was a very easy choice to make!
Tell us a little bit about your garden design that won you the RHS Young Designer of the Year
‘On Tropic’ celebrated the sub-tropical gardens found in Devon and Cornwall, reimagining this famous style to a domestic urban or suburban Northerly context. With climate change in mind the garden also speculated upon the design, and particularly the planting, which might be found in North-Western gardens in the future, a matter very much on topic.
An intimate, relaxed atmosphere was intended. Simple, natural materials found locally were used together with immersive hardy exotic planting. Creating a stimulating, yet tranquil experience that evoked the spirit of the sub-tropical gardens of the South West.
The planting palette had been designed with the location of the show in mind. It features classic hardy exotics which are tough enough to survive in Northern suburban or urban gardens, alongside some more tender species that may become commonplace, considering our rapidly warming climate.
What makes Cornish gardens so different from gardens in the rest of the country?
Typical Cornish gardens can be found tucked in the sheltered cracks of the Atlantic coastline, a location that if not for the shelterbelt plantings would be extremely inhospitable!
This shelter provides a sanctuary for incredible plants to grow, out of reach from the destructive salt laden winds that many plants struggle to tolerate. In addition to this is the microclimate in the South West allows for many more exotic and unusual plants to grow, without the threat of regular snowfall.
Are there any plants that particularly caught your eye in the Hotel Meudon gardens? What makes them so special and unique to this part of the world?
I loved the huge Rhododendron protistum var. giganteum, It’s a real rarity in the plant world, apparently one of only four in the country. This was a fine specimen too, happily taking advantage of the microclimate that the Meudon gardens have to offer.
Any 'take-home advice' from within the Hotel Meudon gardens that you can offer? How can home gardeners cultivate their own sub-tropical Cornish plot?
Gardening is all about experimentation, don’t be afraid to get it wrong! It’s important to visit gardens to get ideas to inspire your own gardens development.
Following your garden visit go and talk to someone at a plant nursery, or a garden designer who can help you choose the right plants for your own space, as every garden is different.
Keep your eyes and ears open for any of Freddie’s future ventures; he is truly a rising star in this fascinating field of expertise and we will no doubt be speaking with him again in the near future.
Follow Freddie on Instagram: @freddiestricklandgardens