SGD Autumn Conference 2023 - Crossing Cultures

Company: SGD
  • Sophie Walker
  • Garden by Charlotte Rowe Garden Design, Design Director Tomoko Kawuchi MSGD
  • Garden by del Buono Gazerwitz
  • Garden by JIm Fogarty

An inspiring line-up of speakers from all over the world will be sharing their ideas and expertise on creating globally inspired, locally focused gardens and landscapes at the Society of Garden Designers' Autumn Conference on 18 November 2023.  

Exploring the theme 'Crossing Cultures' the conference, which takes place at the Royal Geographical Society in London, will hear from designers and industry experts working in all corners of the globe from the UK to Australia, Japan, Kenya, Italy and the US. The acclaimed line-up includes Kenyan-born landscape designer Wambui Ippolito, who will be travelling from her home in New York and Australian landscape architect Jim Fogarty who will join the panel discussion live from Melbourne. UK-based speakers include tree expert and plant collector Tony Kirkham, MBE, VMH, FICFor (Hon), and garden designers Sophie Walker, Japanese Tomoko Kawauchi MSGD, Florentine Tommaso del Buono FSGD and American-born Paul Gazerwitz MSGD.

The day, chaired by garden designer and broadcaster Juliet Sargeant FSGD, will reveal insights into how the speakers’ cultural heritage, travels and other experiences have influenced their work. Crossing Cultures will address hot topics such as the ethical and environmental consequences of borrowing from other cultures, whether restrictions on importing plant materials affect the designer's palette, and how such issues are approached in responding to each client’s sense of identity, design brief and location. The conference will also consider the impacts of new research and climate change on the conservation of horticultural heritage, and the need for strategies to safeguard indigenous plant communities and endangered species.

In a change to the usual format of a Q&A session after each presentation, both morning and afternoon sessions will conclude with a panel discussion to debate key topics in greater detail. Delegates, whether attending in person or live streaming the event, will be encouraged to pose questions and participate in the conversation through a virtual chat room.


The morning session will begin with Chelsea and SGD Award winners Tommaso del Buono FSGD and Paul Gazerwitz MSGD explaining how they draw on cultures beyond their own to interpret the client's brief with examples of projects from Connecticut in the US to France, Italy and Suffolk.  Garden designer and author of 'The Japanese Garden' Sophie Walker will then consider the importance of the garden in art and culture and explain how a garden can change our sense of place in the world, and Tomoko Kawauchi MSGD will be sharing her thoughts around the topic of 'Two Cultures, Two Landscapes', examining the fundamental differences between Japanese gardens and English gardens in both design and purpose.

The session will end with a panel discussion exploring the designers' inherited and cross-cultural sources of design inspiration, structures, materials and the spatial arrangement of their gardens and landscapes.


Following a lunch break of networking with peers and B2B exhibitors who represent many facets of the garden and landscape industry, the afternoon speakers will focus on plants and planting design. Tony Kirkham, former Head of the Arboretum and of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, will talk about the international exchange of know-how gained through his plant collecting expeditions, and consequent re-thinking of how to plant landscapes for a resilient future. Wambui Ippolito will explain the evolution of a Nairobi garden through three generations, discussing her approach to ornamental planting that allows the flora in her palette to stay true to how those species grow in the wild. She will also reference her latest projects in the USA including the design a new courtyard garden devoted to African plant species, opening next year at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia. To finish, Australian designer Jim Fogarty will explore 'Culture & Horticulture in Contemporary Australian Gardens' explaining why he feels passionately that Australian garden designers need to embrace their country's own unique flora and culture, rather than mimicking garden styles from other continents.

Juliet Sargeant FSGD will lead the afternoon speakers’ panel to debate how the socio-cultural significance of plants can be used to express identity in a garden.  

Chair of the SGD Conference committee Jackie Herald said: "The SGD conferences are open to anyone with a passion for gardens and the wider natural landscape. We're thrilled to have such an international and culturally diverse line-up of speakers and anticipate a lively debate that goes to the heart of how and why people relate to gardens and landscape - the substance behind the style."

Tickets for Crossing Cultures: globally inspired, locally focused are still available through the SGD website. The SGD offers three different ticket options: to attend in person at the Royal Geographical Society (this ticket also allows on-demand access to the recorded presentations and discussions for 12 months); via live stream in real time; or, following the event, on-demand access to the recordings. 

To find out more and book places visit the SGD website

Share this...
Next Article Back

For the full list of Products - See the Product Zones