Gardening Magazine

How to Be a Show Critic

By Danielcarruthers

Back before he was famous, important, an RHS worthy – and made silly films with Joe Swift and Cleve West as part of Three Men went to Mow – James Alexander Sinclair and I used to have a very jolly time going round the various RHS shows each year, passing our own judgment on the various gardens. He taught me how to assess the various qualities of the gardens and ask myself why I liked or disliked aspects of design or planting. The most important piece of advice he gave me was this: When you like a garden, ask yourself what you would leave out (apparently designers nearly always add something extraneous at the last moment). If you don’t like a garden, look for the one redeeming feature. I’ve been doing it ever since and it really does make looking at show gardens a richer experience. Try it next time you’re at a flower show.
The garden designer James Alexander Sinclair

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