Brian Minter: Emily Erlam brings environmental sensitivity and inspiration to garden design

If you are interested in landscaping or want to broaden the vision of your own garden, do not miss this talk given by a renowned British designer.

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A Sense of Place: Designing gardens with impact

When: January 31 7 p.m.

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Or: RH MacMillan Space Center

Tickets and info: $ 30 at eventbrite.ca, gardendesigngroup.ca


If you are interested in landscaping or want to broaden the vision of your own garden, don’t miss this talk by famous British landscape designer Emily Erlam.

Erlam, invited by The Garden Design Group, brings a wealth of experience, environmental sensibility and inspiring ideas to the art of garden design.

Postmedia News spoke to Erlam by phone in his London office.

Erlam’s initial training was in media, which gave him a career in television, but his job involved a lot of travel and long working hours, especially in the evenings.

At first it was exciting, but once she had a husband and two young children, the job became very difficult. So Erlam looked for opportunities in a new field. As a result of her travels in different European countries, she developed a very strong interest in architecture.

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This passion led her to the London College of Garden Design and the English Gardening School. Upon graduation from school in 2008, she began her landscaping practice and has been creatively engaged ever since.

Garden designed by Emily Erlam.  Photo credit: Emily Erlam Paysages.
Garden designed by Emily Erlam. Photo credit: Emily Erlam Paysages. Photo by Emily Erlam Landscapes /PNG

Did his television experience help his design process?

“Incredible, then,” Erlam said, explaining that the visual aspects of television gave him a better understanding of the art of presentation. The elements of composition, the constant need for preparation, the challenge of creating a sense of drama and the need to stay on a budget also ran parallel to his career as a designer.

Erlam approaches each site with great sensitivity, and she has learned to carefully observe and distill what is already there. She uses her sense of play to create the essence she is looking for.

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First, there are the physical elements – the buildings, the plants, the surrounding view and everything that exists, even the small details.

Next, she considers her emotional response – how the site makes her feel. Erlam’s talent is to weave these two concepts together to achieve harmony and capture the essence of the place.

Because not all buildings are tall, his approach is to tone down things that aren’t so appealing and polish the architecture, looking for some hidden charm. Erlam says that it is necessary to remember that the building, whether it is a home, office or warehouse, is the center of the design, and it is essential to do the right things. things.

Garden designed by Emily Erlam.  Photo credit: Emily Erlam Paysages.
Garden designed by Emily Erlam. Photo credit: Emily Erlam Paysages. Photo by Emily Erlam Landscapes /PNG

The theming is also very important – don’t mix the contemporary with the historical, she says.

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With the growing trend of urbanization and high density living, Erlam believes it’s essential to have a long-term view when considering the future of landscaping.

“It is important not to project 20 years from now, but rather to imagine 200 years in the future. Plan and plant a tree to last for 300 years. This is what we are doing in Great Britain. This is our story.

Looking to the future, Erlam believes that rooftop and patio gardens will be the order of the day, but they must be created with great tolerance to changing climatic conditions.

It is quite the opposite of most living walls because the maintenance and water they require are out of proportion. They need to be improved, she said.

Erlam recognizes that we are still in the early stages of urban planning and urban forestry and believes that there is still a lot to learn.

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A garden designed by Emily Erlam.  Photo credit: Emily Erlam Paysages.
A garden designed by Emily Erlam. Photo credit: Emily Erlam Paysages. Landscapes of Emily Erlam

Well aware of the connections between people and plants, Erlam believes that landscaping aims to help improve lives. A garden should talk about a person’s age and different times in a person’s life, she says, and when a difficult situation arises, all anyone can have is their garden, and they should be there specifically for that person.

Because environmental concerns play a bigger role in people’s lives, Erlam believes that in today’s garden designs, it’s important to take a softer approach by creating only a light footprint. She also cautions against removing or adding too much. Her advice: use what’s there, and whatever you do, it has to be long term.

According to Erlam, every project is unique and it is essential to find the opportunities in every design and to make the most of them.

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She says realizing just how transformative a space can be, she says, and garden designers should take the time to consider the feel and sensory potential of a space for a garden that is both relaxing and uplifting.

These are just a few of the refreshing approaches Erlam brings to his designs. In England, she says, probably less than 30 percent of gardens are professionally designed, and thinks that’s a shame as there could be so much more. Sometimes we are limited by our own imaginations.

Don’t miss Erlam’s lecture, you might come away with a whole new vision of your own garden.

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