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Tuesday, September 10, 2013


, IntroductionsHi I’m  Robin  Shafer. I’ve been designing gardens for more than 30 years and here I am starting the first of my blogs.
I’ve learnt so much over the years since writing my book “The Garden As a Room” in 1994. I thought it was time to share some of more of my knowledge and blogging seems like a great way to achieve that.
My career started as a child, playing with flowers, plants and soil and I continued playing with flowers, plants and soil in a more formal way at university, studying for a horticulture degree.  I discovered my interest in design and my play shifted to using the flowers and plants with built objects to create garden spaces- spaces that are beautiful, balanced and proportioned – places to live and be.  Well designed garden spaces can make people feel at home, perhaps a little more centred. The idea that the results of my garden design adds value to people’s lives makes me happy. It gives me purpose.
Plants are the building blocks of garden design . I love plants- they are unpredictable, often difficult and uncompromising but would it be a garden if plants were inanimate and didn’t grow and flower and change with the seasons, like wallpaper or cushions! How dull a garden would become.

Am I a gardener?   Well….I try hard but my focus is always on something larger than the individual plant. I love to talk to real gardeners who have observational and husbandry skills that I will never have. As a designer I cannot survive without the skills of gardeners.

Planning and planting a garden happens in the present but by its nature is something for the future. I often think it represents an expression of hope.

I came across a lovely quote about that.

A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.  D. Elton Trueblood

I am off to Africa this morning to run a marathon later in the week. Perhaps some jungle and high veldt will be a new inspiration for upcoming design ideas.
Keep an eye out for my next blog.