Society of Garden Designers announces winners at the SGD Awards 2021

Company: Society of Garden Designers (SGD)
  • The Grand Award - Sara Jane Rothwell MSGD for a stunning sloped garden in London.
  • Kristina Clode won the coveted Judges’ Award for a school sensory garden
  • People’s Choice Award – Alice Ferguson MSGD and Jamie Innes of Artisan Landscapes
  • Highly Commended Award in the Small Residential Garden category - Cassandra Crouch MSGD

The Society of Garden Designers has announced the winners of the ninth annual SGD Awards at a live event in London celebrating standout projects from across the industry. 

The most prestigious award of the night - The Grand Award - was presented to Sara Jane Rothwell MSGD for a stunning sloped garden in London which the judges described as a 'sexy, avant-garde design which has been flawlessly executed’.  Kristina Clode won the coveted Judges’ Award for a school sensory garden and renowned garden designer, author and broadcaster David Stevens FSGD was presented with the SGD Lifetime Achievement Award marking a career that spans over 50 years. 

Richard Sneesby, head of the SGD Awards judging panel said: "With well over 100 entries this year, we judged some of the best gardens we have seen. We were especially encouraged to see many entries in the smaller garden categories which showcased exquisite detailing and beautiful planting as well as gardens which celebrate the importance of setting rigorous and challenging environmental goals and the critical role that outdoor places have in providing social and community benefits. In this, of all years, we were really delighted to see so many gardens making a real difference to people’s health and well-being”

Boasting an impressive hat-trick of awards, the Grand Award-winning garden designed by Sara Jane Rothwell was also named best Medium Residential Garden as well as winning the award for best Planting Design. Built on a steeply sloping plot, the garden transformed an overgrown, unusable space into a family garden incorporating a lawn, an outdoor gym and layers of cascading planting.  The judges described it as 'beautiful, accomplished and very exciting.'

Awards newcomer Kristina Clode was awarded both the prestigious Judges’ Award and the Design for the Environment Award for the Sedlescombe Primary School Sensory garden in East Sussex.  A true community effort built almost entirely by volunteers, with each school child planting a plant, the garden included a wide-range of wildlife friendly plants to increase biodiversity as well as drought-tolerant plants to reduce the need for watering.  The judges commended it for being 'sustainable in its widest senses, not only in terms of the use of materials and well-chosen planting, but in terms of its longevity'.  They described it as an exceptional learning environment to teach children about the environment and a great example of what garden design is all about.

The People’s Choice Award – the only award to be determined by public vote – went to Alice Ferguson MSGD and Jamie Innes of Artisan Landscapes for a garden inspired by terrariums and Japanese temple gardens.  The garden, which also won the Garden Jewel Award, was described by the judges as 'an exquisite subterranean garden providing a stunning focal point to look out onto, walk through and spend time in.'  In the second hat-trick of the evening, Alice and Jamie also won the Big Ideas, Small Budget Award for a tiny 33 metre square garden in Bristol.  

On a much larger scale, Society Fellow Andrew Wilson FSGD and Gavin McWilliam MSGD won the Large Residential Garden Award for Longwood - a garden designed in tandem with Jane Duncan Architects for a mid-century modern house in Hertfordshire which combined naturalistic planting with architectural statements, areas of meadow and a productive garden. 

Joe Swift MSGD delighted the Awards' Charity Partner Horatio's Garden by winning the Healing, Learning or Community Award for the garden he designed for them at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.  Transforming the space into a contemporary garden to bring nature and beauty close to the spinal centre and provide patients and their relatives an oasis of calm in the clinical environment, the judges called it 'absolutely phenomenal.'   

Former Awards judge, Ann-Marie Powell MSGD also triumphed, picking up two awards for a luxury spa garden in Hertfordshire in the Commercial Landscapes category and the Hardscape category. 

Elsewhere, landscape company Garden Club London led by Tony Woods MSGD was named the winner in the Small Residential Garden category for what the judges described as 'a truly-secret garden creating a sanctuary in the middle of a busy, noisy area of London. 

Sheila Jack, a previous recipient of the Student Award, returned to the Awards podium to collect the Fresh Designer Award and Landscape Company Reardon Smith Landscape, led by Edward Freeman MSGD, won the Community Landscapes Award for a public park in Westminster designed with a focus on biodiversity. 

The International Award was won by Chloe Humphreys MSGD for a stunning design in Naretoi, Masaii Mara, Kenya, which combines the requirements of a wild bush home with a sustainable and responsible design, both in the carbon footprint of the project and the impact on the local habitat.  The scheme was described by the judges as 'a perfect example of a garden hewn from the landscape.'

Other awards on the night included the Paper Landscapes category which was won by Tabitha Rigden and Helen Saunders for their Murmuration Garden and a Highly Commended Award in the Small Residential Garden category which was presented to Cassandra Crouch MSGD for a contemporary courtyard garden in Hertfordshire. 

The SGD Student Awards

This year two students received awards in the student design categories.  Laura Potten was the overall winner in the Student Design – Commercial category and Lyndan Brewer won the Student Design – Domestic Award.  Two further commendations were made to Harry Holding, who was presented with a Special Environmental Award in the Commercial category and Alberto Caffi who was presented with a Highly Commended Award for his Domestic design.  All four winners studied at the London College of Garden Design.

The SGD Lifetime Achievement Award

Other special awards given on the night included the SGD Lifetime Achievement Award – an award granted to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the landscape and garden design profession. The Award, which is gifted by the Council of the Society of Garden Designers, was given to the garden designer, author and broadcaster David Stevens FSGD. 
On presenting the Award, SGD Chair, Lynne Marcus said: "David Stevens has been designing gardens worldwide for over fifty years. He has 26 RHS Chelsea medals, 14 of which have been Gold and he has won three 'Best in Show' awards. He has also written 21 books on garden design and is one of our leading Educators.  

David has had an immense influence on the growth and development of garden design both through his own work and as a teacher. He was there at the inception of the Society of Garden Designers; he is ‘one of our own’. There can be no one more deserving as a representative of our profession and values to win the SGD Lifetime Achievement Award in our 40th Anniversary Year.”

Images of all the winning gardens in the SGD Awards 2021 can be seen on the SGD website visit

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