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Garden Design With James Alexander Sinclair


By AndrewR


Oxford Botanic Garden organise a series of lectures during the winter. Although it sounds a long way away, Bracknell to Oxford is only an hour by train (with a change at Reading) so it’s quite easy to get to.

James Alexander Sinclair was the first speaker. Who is James Alexander Sinclair? He’s been on the telly a bit – Chelsea Flower Show, Gardeners World, The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge – he writes and blogs, he’s a judge, he’s on the RHS Council – you know, this chap:

And he designs gardens. Which is what he was talking about. Actually with all the other things he does, you wonder how he finds the time. Maybe he just scribbles something in the back of an envelope and somebody else does all the work. Perhaps we’ll find out.

Actually we did find out a little bit but mainly we were entertained. He is extremely funny. Did you know garden design is really only about four things:
Hard Stuff
Soft stuff
Wet stuff
Other people’s stuff

Hard stuff is this:

Soft stuff are these:

Wet stuff is this:

And somebody else’s stuff is – well, stuff we don’t own, like this mountain:

Then you put them together – biff, boff, thing at the end end:

See, it’s easy – biff, boff, thing at the end

He then showed us five gardens he had made and how he made them. Actually the first one was made when he was a penniless student with a courtyard – a pot on a pile of bricks (“I lived next door to a building site, my materials were sourced locally.”)

The gardens he designs are for the very well healed and probably cost several lotto jackpots, but the talk is full of humour, asides, and general useful information. If he’s doing a talk near you, go and see him – you won’t be disappointed.

As for my garden, well it’s biff, boff, thing at the end:

I can’t afford a mountain in the background, but I’ve got the hard stuff, soft stuff and wet stuff. Eight of ten maybe?

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Ha ha ....very entertaining ! Yes, I have seen JAS on tv over the particular the Chelsea garden competition thing of a few years back sticks in my mind.He's an experienced and talented designer.

30 Jan, 2016


Thank you, wonderful blog, you have the last thing, other peoples admiration, wonder, delight and pleasure, you have it in spades.

30 Jan, 2016


Very entertaining blog and your garden looks very peaceful I admire JAS and he once wrote in gardeners world magazine don't feel quilt about discarding spring bulbs just as you don't about summer bedding so I just buy some bargain packets of tulips tete tete etc and then change the pots to summer bedding good if you have limited pot space ,he is a wonderful designer .

30 Jan, 2016


Excellent ... if you like JAS then check out on Youtube the 'Three men went to mow' videos ... very entertaining with Joe Swift and Cleve West joining James.

30 Jan, 2016


Which one was designed by him Andrew and which by you.!!! They are all very similar in interesting soft stuff, hard stuff wet stuff and the other stuff. You don't need a fortune to create a beautiful garden as you have proved with yours. All that's missing in your garden is the immensely expensive wood stuff. And you don't need that...

30 Jan, 2016


I am an ardent admirer of JAS and had a photo taken with him last year at Malvern Spring Show....a charming man, I follow him on Instagram too...also his blogs.
Shirley i have spent many a happy hour watching Three men went to mow, absolutely hilarious especially their latest episodes, love the one with Alan T.

30 Jan, 2016


Well, your garden looks wonderful don't need a mountain for it to look good.

30 Jan, 2016


I have seen James Sinclair on the TV and he is very interesting - your garden is beautiful what a fantastic selection of plants and shrubs -thankyou for sharing-Jane

30 Jan, 2016


Really enjoyed this because it was light hearted and yet extremely helpful!

Your garden looks so inviting and is really lovely.

Thank you.

30 Jan, 2016


Did recognize him but wouldn't have been able to name him, your garden is lovely Andrew, I would love to take a meander along your grass path to discover whats hiding out of sight, I like that in a garden and have mine set out similarly, you cannot see it all from the house, I like surprises, I have a bit of everything even down to the wooden bits, mine however are rotting logs and stumps and very tiny but its my homemade wooden sculpture and I quite like it, I cannot afford the posh either, no mountains here but I can see Burghley House amongst the trees from my bedroom window, I just ignore the rooftops in between us, lol...Great blog and Photo's Andrew....

31 Jan, 2016


Dotty, the one where Mr. T wants to be the fourth man? So funny .....

3 Feb, 2016

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