Award-winning West Country designer offers consultation, design and even garden maintenance in the wake of Royal Horticultural Shows.
It’s been a busy few weeks for Cherry Carmen. The Somerset-based garden designer followed her Silver Medal at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival by taking on the role of mentor to an up-and-coming designer at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show.
Carmen was invited by the Association of Professional Landscapers to create their show garden at Hampton Court with the brief being a believable space that visitors could imagine being their own garden. The chosen title was A Place to Meet. Her design proved extremely popular with visitors, many of whom expressed admiration that she had managed to combine so much planting with a seemingly spacious seating area inside such a small footprint.
“I like the way Cherry’s garden flows. It’s got the steps that climb to the seating platform and then down again to the plunge pool.”
The garden was adjudged right at the top of the Silver Medal category, missing out on a higher award by just one point. Phil Tremayne, General Manager of the Association of Professional Landscapers, had nothing but praise for Carmen though, “I think the garden looked fantastic. One of the essential parts of A Place to Meet is an area for seating which we’ve got on the raised platform. Our main sponsor, Kebur Garden Materials, wanted to use the black granite paving and Cherry came up with an idea for fusing the straight lines of contemporary paving with a wildlife element that showed that you could use both within the same small space. Essentially, she nailed it.”
Carmen’s garden was busy without being fussy. A Place to Meet seemed much bigger than it was due to the use of different heights. Similarly, the garden fulfilled the promise of its title on many different levels. Most simply, it was a place for people to enjoy one another’s company, either on the patio furniture overlooking the planting areas or in the plunge pool – a feature that had many a visitor during the hot week of the show looking on in envy. Then there were the aspects of the hard lines of modern paving harmonising with the soft natural vegetation of the traditional wildflowers, humanity meeting nature and pollinating insects interacting with the flowers.
“When it was mooted by the APL committee that we should have a show garden, Cherry was the clear choice to design it for us,” continued Tremayne, outlining why Carmen was the designer he wanted, especially given the APL’s need to use materials from a wide range of suppliers. “I would definitely work with Cherry again, she’s great to work with. We had 18 different contractors come in and help build this garden and all of them were so complimentary about Cherry. The way she was able to handle them and communicate what she wanted to them was a real credit to her.”
Hot on the heels of Hampton Court Palace, Carmen headed up to Tatton Park in Cheshire in an advisory capacity to young designer of the year entrant, Laurence Senior on his Baroque Garden. It is a mark of the esteem in which she is held that, at the age of just 32 herself, Carmen is being invited to mentor a talent such as Senior who won Young Landscaper of the Year in 2018 and was making his garden design debut.
“I want to be there.” Visitor pointing to the seating area.
Having relocated to the Langport-Taunton area early in 2019, Carmen is looking to build her customer base in Somerset and the surrounding counties. It is not every day that West Country residents have an award-winning garden designer available on their doorstep. The APL’s Phil Tremayne endorsed her talents, “Cherry as a garden designer understands what people want. She knows how to interpret a customer’s brief properly. She’s not the sort of designer who strays from brief in order to impose their own style. When Cherry commits to something, she commits 100%. She’ll deliver a super project, a super garden.”
Cherry Carmen offers a consultation service for those who want some guidance as to how to use their garden space or a full
garden design service where she designs and installs to brief. Unusually perhaps for a top designer, she is also keen to get back out into the garden herself, “People think I’m mad, but I love weeding. Sure, I’ve got the qualifications and I love designing gardens but, equally, sometimes I just want to be out of doors getting my hands dirty.”